2016 MLB American League Preview – Division by Division

2016 American League Preview

Welcome to our 2016 American League preview!  We’re looking at each team’s outlook for 2016. With key losses, key additions and predictions for each division.

American League Central

 

American League Central Preview

Image courtesy Flickr

Kansas City Royals
2015 Record: 95-67 (World Series Champions)
Key Additions: Ian Kennedy
Key Losses: Johnny Cueto, Ben Zobrist
Even after winning the World Series, the Royals are not even favorites to win the AL Central in 2016. Re-signing Alex Gordon is one of the few reasons that they will stay in contention. Ian Kennedy will have to readjust to the American League after his time with Arizona and San Diego. After stealing the national spotlight last season, Lorenzo Cain will have to acclimate to the pressure of being the face of the franchise.

Minnesota Twins
2015 Record: 83-79
Key Additions: Byung-Ho Park
Key Losses: Torii Hunter
After years of being a bottom-dweller in the AL Central, the Twins took a major step last season by competing for a Wild Card. The addition of the Korean slugger Byung-Ho Park could have a monumental impact like Jose Abreau did for Chicago a few years ago. Sophomore players Miguel Sano and Byron Buxon look to make big strides and contribute in Minneosta’s efforts to return to the playoffs.

Cleveland Indians
2015 Record: 81-80
Key Additions: Juan Uribe, Rajai Davis
Key Losses: Chris Johnson
Terry Francona has been able to work wonders with the Tribe. He has helped create one of the most valuable, per dollar amount, teams in the sport. Middle infielders Jason Kipnis and Francisco Lindor will lead the offense while former MVP-finalist Michael Brantley recovers from offseason shoulder surgery. The Indians had four pitchers strike out 200 batters, only the second time that has been accomplished in history. Although they will have to improve their offense internally, expect Cleveland to be competitive in the crowded mess that is the AL Central this season.

Chicago White Sox
2015 Record: 76-86
Key Additions: Todd Frazier, Brett Lawrie, Mat Latos
Key Losses: Jeff Samardzija, Alexei Ramirez
The White Sox made three major movies to bolster the team by acquiring Todd Frazier, Brett Lawrie and Mat Latos. Frazier, Jose Abreau and Lawrie could easily combine for 85 homeruns; on the flip side, Chris Sale, Jose Quintana and Latos will be a gauntlet for any team unfortunate enough to face them 1-2-3 in a series. If Chicago falls out of contention by the Trade Deadline, however, don’t be stunned to see them jump ship and break apart the team for prospects.

Detroit Tigers
2015 Record: 74-87
Key Additions: Jordan Zimmerman, Justin Upton
Key Losses: Rajai Davis
Detroit’s dynasty was ended when age finally caught up to them and sent the Tigers tumbling to the cellar of the Central. Aging stars like Justin Verlander, Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez all were bugged by injuries and did not produce like they have in years past. Look for bounce-back years from them along with significant impacts from newcomers Jordan Zimmerman and Justin Upton to help the Tigers in their hunt for the American League Central.

AL Central Best Hitter: Justin Upton (Detroit)
AL Central Best Pitcher: Chris Sale (Chicago)
AL Central Player to Watch: Jose Quintana (Chicago)
2016 AL Central Champions: Minnesota Twins

American League East

 

American League East Preview

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Toronto Blue Jays
2015 Record: 93-69 (AL East Champs)
Key Additions: Drew Storen
Key Losses: David Price, Mark Buehrle
Outlook: Coming off of their first AL East title since 1993, the Blue Jays face an uphill battle in 2016. Despite the return of flamer-thrower Marcus Stroman, Toronto is losing 419 innings from their starting rotation with David Price leaving for Boston and Mark Buehrle retiring. They will have to take advantage of what is possibly their last season with Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnation.

New York Yankees
2015 Record: 87-75 (AL Wildcard)
Key Additions: Aroldis Chapman, Starlin Castro
Key Losses: Adam Warren
Outlook: Since the departure of Robinson Cano, the Yankees have struggled to fill the hole at second base. The acquisition of Starlin Castro from the Cubs is a major step in the right direction. Even with Aroldis Chapman suspended the first 30 games of the season, the back end of their bullpen is stacked. Look out for Luis Severino to break out in his first full season with the Yankees.

Baltimore Orioles
2015 Record: 81-81
Key Additions: Yovanni Gallardo, Mark Trumbo
Key Losses: Wei-Yin Chen, Gerardo Parra
Baltimore’s two biggest moves of the offseason were resigning Matt Wieters and Chris Davis. Despite having a strong starting lineup, the Orioles will struggle to keep pace with the rest of the AL East with their depleted pitching staff. Youngsters Dylan Bundy and Kevin Gausman will have to take big steps in their careers if Baltimore wants to return to the playoffs.

Tampa Bay Rays
2015 Record: 80-82
Key Additions: Corey Dickerson
Key Losses: Jake McGee, Asdrubal Cabrera
2016 is an important season for the Tampa Bay Rays. Cy Young-finalist Chris Archer will head one of the stronger rotations in the American League. With only one All-Star in the lineup, starting rotations around the AL East are going to have a field day with the Rays’ lineup in 2016. After having his last two seasons butchered by Tommy John surgery, starting pitcher Matt Moore looks to resurrect his career.

Boston Red Sox
2015 Record: 78-84
Key Additions: David Price, Craig Kimbrel
Key Losses: Wade Miley
Boston looks to have one of the biggest turnarounds from 2015 to 2016. Team icon David Ortiz will be retiring at the end of the season and the Red Sox want to send him out on top. With the newly acquired David Price manning the rotation and Craig Kimbrel closing, American League hitters are going to be in for a rough time. For the second time this decade, Boston is looking to go from last place to first and contend in 2016.

AL East Best Hitter of 2016: Manny Machado (Baltimore)
AL East Best Pitcher of 2016: David Price (Boston)
AL East Player to Watch in 2016: Mookie Betts (Boston)
2016 AL East Champion: New York Yankees

American League West

 

American League West Preview

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Texas Rangers
2015 Record: 88-74 (AL West Winner)
Key Additions: Ian Desmond
Key Losses: Yovanni Gallardo
The Texas Rangers defied everybody’s expectations by coming from behind and winning the American League West last season. Although losing Yovanni Gallardo will sting slightly, the return of Yu Darvish and a full season of Cole Hamels will more than make up for it. The addition of Ian Desmond will be huge in a lineup loaded with aging veterans. Adrian Beltre, Prince Fielder, Shin-Soo Choo and Josh Hamilton are all another year older on the wrong side of 30. The pitching staff and experience will keep the Rangers in contention, but repeating in the West will be an uphill battle.

Houston Astros
2015 Record: 86-76 (AL Wild Card)
Key Additions: Doug Fister, Ken Giles
Key Losses: Scott Kazmir, Mark Appel
Two years ago, the Astros were an absolute joke. Everybody predicted that Houston would improve last year, but almost nobody saw them winning 86 games and making the playoffs. Unbelievable seasons from Carlos Correa, Dallas Keuchel and Colby Rasmus helped lift the team out of the basement and into the driver’s seat. The acquisition of Ken Giles gives them a huge boost at the back end of their bullpen while Doug Fister provides a solid end-of-the-rotation starter to shore up a young pitching staff. Look for Houston to compete for the title and give the Rangers a run for their money in 2016.

Los Angeles Angels
2015 Record: 85-77
Key Additions: Andrelton Simmons
Key Losses: Mat Latos, Erick Aybar
Angels fans are nervous as Mike Trout inches closer to free agency and they have nothing to show for it. It really does go to show that simply having a few All-Stars can’t instantly turn a team into an immediate contender. Former Cy Young candidate Jered Weaver is a shell of his former self as he is struggling to even reach 85 mph on his fastball in Spring Training and three-time MVP Albert Pujols is now 36. Adding one of the best defensive players in the game, Andrelton Simmons, will play a big part in Los Angeles’ success in 2016; however, the Angels have a lot of work to do before they can compete in the AL West again.

Seattle Mariners
2015 Record: 76-86
Key Additions: Adam Lind, Wade Miley, Nori Aoki
Key Losses: Mark Trumbo
On paper, the Mariners look like a great team. Robinson Cano, Felix Hernandez and Nelson Cruz are all big names in the sport that just have not done enough to help their team reach the playoffs. Similar to the Angels, the Mariners do not possess the depth to last an entire season. Despite having a few talented All-Stars, their holes at catcher, the bullpen and the back half of the rotation will come to haunt them this season. Expect another middle-of-the-road season for Seattle somewhere between 78 and 82 wins.

Oakland Athletics
2015 Record: 68-94
Key Additions: Khris Davis, Henderson Alvarez
Key Losses: Brett Lawrie
After over a decade of “Moneyball” tactics, the A’s continue to fall short of their ultimate goal. Despite their success a few years ago, the team was gutted in an effort to rebuild and focus on the future. The issue with Oakland is that they are not as committed to rebuilding as a team like Houston. Instead of becoming a bottom dweller for a few seasons while they retool through the draft, they make an effort to both compete and rebuild at the same time. While trading the likes of Josh Donaldson, Yoenis Cespedes and Brandon Moss over the last few years for prospects, they sign players like Khris Davis and Henderson Alvarez. Davis and Alvarez are great players but they are not a part of the future of Oakland. Most likely due to their history as a successful franchise, the A’s cannot bring themselves to start from scratch. If they combined a complete rebuilding of the team with their “Moneyball” mentality Oakland could be an extremely dangerous team; however, until then they will remain a bottom-dweller in the AL West for some time to come.

2016 AL West Best Hitter: Mike Trout (Los Angeles Angels)
2016 AL West Best Pitcher: Felix Hernandez (Seattle Mariners)
2016 AL West Player to Watch: C.J. Cron (Los Angeles Angels)
2016 AL West Champion: Houston Astros

Follow Nate on Twitter at @DiscavageSavage

Author: Nate Discavage

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