12. Los Angeles Angels – The team with a once in a generation talent doesn’t really have too many supporting players around him to make a dominant team. They have the worst farm system in the MLB and I can’t see them making anymore trades; so no reinforcements are coming, this is the team they’ll have all season. After Trout the two best hitters on this team are Albert Pujols, a first ballot hall of fame career but with his best years behind him, and Kole Calhoun, only an above average hitter and a name spelling nightmare. This team doesn’t have any depth and I have trouble seeing anyone on the current lineup breaking out or improving too much on their previous year, but the rotation is where I see the most room for growth. Garrett Richards wasn’t 100% percent last year and he was worth double the WAR just the year prior, I still see ace potential in him. Andrew Heaney has the pedigree and showed enough promise last year that it wouldn’t surprise me to see him as a top of the rotation starter soon. Jumble together the rest of the potential starters the Angels have available and I see something resembling a strong rotation. It should help that they have one of the best defensive shortstops now in Simmons. Mike Trout hasn’t been talented enough to carry this team to the playoffs every year, but he should be good enough to carry them within shooting distance, again. If he ever got injured this team would be in hell.
Playoffs Teams of the MLB Rankings (Ranking at Half) (Preseason Ranking)
1. St. Louis Cardinals (1) (3) – I don’t know how they keep doing it – they just win. Their best pitcher went down for the year after a handful of starts, but will somehow miraculously return to the team in a relief role for playoffs! As a Mets fan having Wainwright in the bullpen is scarier than seeing him as a starter. Their star veteran OF didn’t play for most of the year and when he did play he was subpar. They gave up winless wonder Shelby Miller for a RF that never broke out offensively, but his defense remained among the best in the game. They keep pulling these random OF prospects out of nowhere who produce! Piscotty was their #1 ranked prospect heading into the season, but who the heck are Pham and Gruchck? They’re doing just as well! Jon Lackey, really?!! He’s never been this good ever and now he’s their Game 1 starter. A winning season, sure, playoffs, a stretch, but to win 100 games in the toughest division amid a sea of crucial injuries! Black devil magic is the only explanation! They lost Yadier Molina and Carlos Martinez right before the playoffs, and every baseball fan outside of St. Louis should be rooting for the Cubs, but it wouldn’t surprise me to see them go deep into the playoffs, again. Somehow. I can’t think of a single candidate for MVP, Cy Young, or ROY on the MLB leading 100 win team…how is this even possible.
Final Record: 100-62
9. Toronto Blue Jays
I’m sorry. I want to rate them as the best team in the AL, but they’re the Blue Jays. As sure as Canadian maple syrup will be deliciously sticky this team will disappoint. Last year the Red Sox and Rays were neutered, the Yankee pitchers were dropping like flies, the Orioles lost “star” players Wieters and Machado, and this Jays team still blew it. I’ll give them one more chance though. Edwin Encarnacion is capable of hitting 16 HRs in a month and he’s reliably productive even through injuries. I could almost say the exact same thing about Bautista except his defense is better, he never earned a lovable error based nickname. Dickey isn’t the Cy Young guy he was in Queens, but him and Buehrle are reliable innings eaters. Shorty Marcus Stroman impressed last year, apparently Doc Halladay taught him a sinker and he was unhittable after that. Drew Hutcherson looks like a promising young flamethrower in the icy city of Toronto. This offense is nasty, they were in the top 5 in most offensive categories last year and now they added Josh Donaldson and Russell Martin, if everyone stays relatively healthy, they should be the best offense in the league. How did the Blue Jays not win the Donaldson trade again? “So you’re telling me you guys only want Brett Lawrie and a handful of our midlevel prospects?” Moneyball failed here. Jose Reyes is still toiling around as one of the best SS in the league, offensively at least, but 2B and the OF outside of Bautista are weaknesses. Good thing they signed oft injured Michael Saunders… Yeah this team is good, please don’t blow this Canada.
Instead of doing the more traditional rain dance, Bautista does the HR dance to help teammates.
Who I want to win the AL
1. Kansas City Royals
2. Oakland Athletics
3. LA Angels
4. Baltimore Orioles
5. Detroit Tigers
20 years, that’s how long the city of Pittsburgh had to pretend they only had a hockey and football team. That was the longest losing streak by any sports team in the United States, but at least they aren’t the Cubs right? Last year that streak ended with the Pirates finishing with a 94-68 record and winning the 1st wildcard spot. The streak was mercifully over, the young core of Pirate players looked primed and young enough to keep their success and maybe start a new 20 year streak, this time in the opposite direction. This year the Pirates head into the All-Star break with a 49-46 record and sit 4th in their division with a -2 run differential. Probably not were they hoped they would be going into the season, but it’s not all bad. The Pirates are only 2.5 games behind the 2nd wildcard race, actually there’s still a handful of teams competing for the wildcard spots in the NL, anything is possible.
17. Kansas City Royals
And they’ll never be royal (royal). It only runs in their blood…and is their actual team name. Apparently the Royals inspired Lorde to write her hit song Royals. I guess we’ve just witnessed Billy Butler’s peak performance over the past two years, it doesn’t look like he’s going to overcome his personal mountain of 2 stolen bases a season. We’re all rooting for ya Billy…I’m still in disbelief he managed any. It must be bittersweet for Royals fans to see Wil Myers play so well for the Rays when they only got a short-term rental on James Shields…and I guess Wade Davis too. Honestly if the Rays were interested in any of my teams prospects, that prospect would become a whole lot more interesting for me. I’d just have the Rays come look at my organization and see who they wanted, then that’s how I’ll figure out whose good on my team. I have a lot of respect for Royals fans, this team has been bad for longer than I can remember. And as much as ESPN and Cardinals fans want you to believe that they have the best fans, a notion that’s ridiculous to begin with, but if I’m going to believe this facade I would nominate Royal fans being the best. There are no bandwagon fans here…and I don’t think there ever will be. Like it’s really tough to be a Cardinals fan when they always make the right decision. Royals fans just saw a future star traded away and attendance went way up because the organization was desperately trying to get wins. And it worked. This is the true underdog and I hope they do their best.