American League East Preview

by Maize_in_Spartyland

The Boston Red Sox and Detroit Tigers get baseball started on April 4th, with a game at 1:10 PM EST at Comerica Park. At 3:05 PM EST, the Toronto Blue Jays will visit the Cleveland Indians. The start of the major league season means a new beginning for each of the 30 teams – each team has an equal shot at making the post season. While each team starts with the same record, the end result won’t be the same.

Today, I’ll cover the American League East teams, offering a prediction as to whether each team will exceed or fall short of their expectations.

Baltimore Orioles

Manager: Buck Showalter, second full year

Last Division Title: 1997

Last AL Pennant: 1983

Last World Series Title: 1983

Last Season Record: 69-93

Key Changes: Lost SP Jeremy Guthrie, 1B Derrek Lee, and OF Luke Scott; added OF Endy Chavez, IF Wilson Betemit, and RP Matt Lindstrom

LVH over/under win total: 69.5

Baltimore has the tough task of having Boston, New York, and Tampa Bay in their division. Toronto has been good in recent years, so Baltimore has been relegated to the cellar. The Orioles have a quality manager in Showalter, someone they are hoping improves up their 2011 win total. Baltimore was in the top half in batting average in 2011, with a team batting average of .257. Their pitching staff was awful though, as Baltimore had a team ERA of 4.89, a major league worst. The problem appeared to be the starting rotation, as the Orioles had an American League low 32 saves. Further, Baltimore has only 60 quality starts – a MLB worst – with the nearest team having 71. Baltimore will have an Opening Day rotation of Jason Hammel, Wei-Yen Chen, Jake Arrieta, Tsuyoshi Wada, and Brian Matusz. Tommy Hunter is making a case to be a candidate for a rotation spot. Zach Britton is out right now with a shoulder injury; having received platelet therapy, Britton won’t make his 2012 debut until May.

Over/under win total projection: Under

Boston Red Sox

Manager: Bobby Valentine, first year

Last Division Title: 2007

Last AL Pennant: 2007

Last World Series Title: 2007

Last Season Record: 90-72

Key Changes: Lost RPs Jonathan Papelbon and Hideki Okajima, SP Tim Wakefield; added RP Andrew Bailey

LVH over/under win total: 89.5

After the 2011 collapse, it was clear the Red Sox were bound and determined to clean house. Boston did just that, allowing Manager Terry Francona and GM Theo Epstein to leave, replacing them with Ben Cherington and Bobby Valentine, respectively. Boston also lost Papelbon, Okajima, and Wakefield, key components to their 2007 World Series winning team. John Lackey will be out the 2012 season with arm surgery. In fact, Josh Beckett appears to be the only controversial Red Sox who will be playing in 2012 with Boston. Boston was second from the bottom in quality starts in baseball last season, with 71. An ERA of 4.20 put them in the bottom third of all of baseball. With 875 runs and 842 RBIs, Boston was first in those categories; they also were second in batting average, with a mark of .283. Boston will have a starting rotation of Jon Lester, Josh Beckett, and Clay Buchholz, Felix Doubront, and Daniel Bard to open the 2012 campaign. Aaron Cook will likely start the season in Triple-A, at Pawtucket. Daisuke Matsuzaka should return in June. Alfredo Aceves will be in the bullpen. Andrew Bailey will be likely out until the All-Star Game, with an arm injury.

Over/under win total projection: Over

New York Yankees

Manager: Joe Girardi, fifth year

Last Division Title: 2011

Last AL Pennant: 2009

Last World Series Title: 2009

Last Season Record: 97-65

Key Changes: Lost SP A.J. Burnett and SP Bartolo Colon; added SPs Michael Pineda and Hiroki Kuroda

LVH over/under win total: 93.5

The Yankees were an American League best 97-65 last season, but fell in the first round to the Detroit Tigers. The Yankees were among the top third of teams in team ERA and batting average and lead MLB in home runs. But the Yankees also were in the top half for strikeouts, as their hitters frequently left runners on base. Yes, New York continues to get older, but Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, and Mark Teixeira have still shown the ability to hit. With Jorge Posada’s retirement, the DH role opened back up, allowing one of the aforementioned hitters to take a day off from the field. Expect the New York Yankees rotation to be C.C. Sabathia, Michael Pineda, Hiroki Kuroda, and Ivan Nova. The final rotation spot will come down to Freddy Garcia, Phil Hughes, and Andy Pettitte.

Over/under win total projection: Under

Tampa Bay Rays

Manager: Joe Maddon, seventh year

Last Division Title: 2010

Last AL Pennant: 2008

Last World Series Title: Never

Last Season Record: 91-71

Key Changes: Lost OF Johnny Damon; added C Jose Molina, RP Fernando Rodney, and OF Luke Scott

LVH over/under win total: 87

Tampa Bay’s playoff push in September, and ultimately clinching the wild card, was brought about by their pitching, not their hitting. Tampa Bay had a team batting average of .244. The Rays ERA of 3.58 was good for seventh in all of baseball; they had 99 quality starts last season, putting them in fourth place in MLB. Tampa Bay’s starting rotation will be David Price, James Shields, Jeremy Hellickson, Matt Moore, and Jeff Niemann.

Over/under win total projection: Over

Toronto Blue Jays

Manager: John Farrell, second season

Last Division Title: 1993

Last AL Pennant: 1993

Last World Series Title: 1993

Last Season Record: 81-81

Key Changes: Lost C Jose Molina; added RP Francisco Cordero

LVH over/under win total: 80

The key to improvement for Toronto lies with the pitching staff. The Blue Jays had a team ERA of 4.32 and 33 saves last season, placing them near the bottom in major league baseball in both categories. Toronto converted only 57% of their saves, meaning that the back end of the bullpen could have used an upgrade. Give GM Alex Anthopoulos credit for making the move to bring Cordero over the border – he had 37 saves in 2011, 40 in 2010, 39 in 2009, and 34 in 2008. The last time Cordero had fewer than 30 saves it was 2006. Sergio Santos is a good candidate too, but he likely will be in a setup role. Toronto’s starting rotation will likely be Ricky Romero, Brandon Morrow, Brett Cecil, Henderson Alvarez, and Kyle Drabek. Dustin McGowan will start the season on the DL with planter fasciitis in his right foot. McGowan hasn’t pitched since July 2008.

Over/under win total projection: Over

One response

  1. Pingback: New Content Added: Week of April 1st | beforevisitingthesportsbook

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