By : Mike Rifkin
2023 MLB season is upon us. Here is a preview for the American League.
AL EAST :
Orioles : If they’re young players play as well as they did last season the Orioles can hang around in the beast of a division.
Red Sox : They signed Rafael Devers to a long term extension. A lot of their season is about banking on health of some older players like Justin Turner and Corey Kluber. If Chris Sale is healthy for the whole year that would be a major boost.
Yankees : The team hasn’t won a World Series since 2009, but at least they res-signed Aaron Judge and didn’t have to settle for his brother Arson. Health is already a factor for them. Early on they may have to out slug people, but if Gerrit Cole goes down then the season is over.
Blue Jays : I already loved their roster, but adding Chris Bassitt to their rotation which should get Hyun Jin Ryu back is a great addition. They also added Daulton Varsho and Kevin Kiermaier which will help their outfield defense. Brandon Belt will provide leadership to a team with a very young core. I have high expectations for the Jays.
Rays: One thing we’ve learned over the years is to not count the Rays out despite their payroll. If Tyler Glasnow can return and be the ace he was prior to Tommy John Surgery the Rays rotation will line up accordingly. If Randy Arozarena can carry over what he did at the World Baseball Classic, he along with Wander Franco will lead the charge offensively.
White Sox : Hands down the White Sox were the biggest disappointment in baseball last year. They really need a bounce back season from Lucas Giolito. If Giolito returns to form along with Lance Lynn and Dylan Cease the White Sox would have one of the best pitching trios in baseball. Offensively they won’t have Jose Abreu, but if they stay healthy expect Tim Anderson and Eloy Jimenez to bounce back.
Guardians : While the White Sox were the biggest disappointment in baseball the Guardians were the best. They came from nowhere to win the division ( reminded me of Major League). Jose Ramirez remains one of the best players in the game. The Josh Bell signing was one of my favorites of the offseason. A rotation led by Shane Bieber and Triston Mckenzie and a dominant bullpen, Terry Francona’s team could win the Central again.
Tigers : It was announced that this will be Miguel Cabrera’s final season, so baseball fans will get to watch the legend one more time. Young players Riley Greene and Spencer Torkelson will have to take the next step in their development for this to be a successful season in the Motor City.
Royals : Bobby Witt and MJ Melendez are coming off of solid seasons and will only get better. Sal Perez is aging like a fine wine with another 23 homers last season. My biggest question is who steps up behind Brady Singer in the rotation?
Twins : Carlos Correa is back after failing physicals with the Giants and Mets. They added Pablo Lopez to the rotation, but traded batting champ Luis Arraez to do it. Byron Buxton hit 28 home runs in 92 games, imagine what he can do if he stays healthy.
Astros : The reigning World Series Champs lost the reigning AL CY Young Award winner to free agency, and lost Jose Altuve for a couple of months with injury. They did add former AL MVP Jose Abreu. But expect whoever plays in Altuve’s place to step up. Jeremy Pena had to fill the shoes of Carlos Correa and all he did was win ALCS and World Series MVP.
Angels : How is it possible to be a bad team when two of the best players in the world are on your team? Asking for the Angels, I know what Shohei Ohtani and Mike Trout will give them if they’re healthy. They signed Tyler Anderson, who is coming off a career year with the Dodgers, The guy this team needs to step up is Anthony Rendon, who hasn’t made much impact since signing with the Angels. Can the Angels be a playoff team? Sure but they have to show me before I believe in them. ( Or they need Joesph Gordon – Levitt back for Angels in the Outfield 2)
Athletics : Are they going to be so boring that more people will have sex in the crowd? Set your expectations low, we’re still waiting to see if a new ballpark is in the future of the A’s or if they will relocate. But in player talks Seth Brown had a solid season last year.
Mariners : Ok remember when I said I loved the Blue Jays rotation, well I love the Mariners rotation as well. Luis Castillo, Robbie Ray, Logan Gilbert, and George Kirby is a great top four. As for the lineup they added some thump with Teoscar Hernandez and Kolten Wong. Julio Rodriguez who is coming off a Rookie Of The Year campaign, is ready to become one of the faces of Baseball.
Rangers : No team changed their identity in the offseason more than the Rangers. Bringing in future Hall Of Fame Manager Bruce Bochy. They also brought in Jacob DeGrom and Nathan Eovaldi to the rotation. The Rangers will be one of the more fascinating teams to watch this season.
DIVISION WINNERS: EAST: Blue Jays
Central : White Sox
WEST : Astros
WILD CARDS : Mariners, Yankees, Rangers
MVP : Shhoei Ohtani: I know this is the easy answer because there is nobody in baseball who does what he does. But if asked outside of him I would say Julio Rodriguez. But expect Ohtani to put on a Sho prior to his free agency.
CY YOUNG : Alek Manoah : Last season Manoah was 16-7 with a 2.24 ERA. He pitched to a 2.24 ERA in the AL East, if he can replicate that or even pitch better.
Rookie Of The Year : Gunnar Henderson : In 34 games last year Henderson hit .259 with four home runs and 18 RBIS. If the Orioles are as scrappy as they were last season, Henderson will be a big reason why.
Manager Of The Year ; Bruce Bochy: The future Hall of Famer doesn’t need any more accolades, but I think he will turn the Rangers around.
ALCS : Blue Jays DEF Astros in seven games.