With the All-Star break wrapping up, I think it is time to put together some projections for division winners in the American League. The AL is ridiculously tight this year and I can’t wait to see how the second half of the year play out.
AL EAST: Boston Red Sox
This is the classic story that sports wants to push always: Big time player in their last season making that one final push for a championship. Ray Lewis, Peyton Manning and now David Ortiz? That would be a sight to see. Big Papi is a player that was always larger than life, and his attitude on and off the field has made him a fan favorite. The Sox offense is second to none in my opinion this season – they have sensational outfielders that can all rake at the plate. The infield is hot too – Hanley Ramírez looks like he is enjoying baseball again, and Pablo Sandoval is out eating burritos somewhere being the slob that we know and love (but Boston fans expected something else for some reason and acted surprised when he came back fatter than ever). This division is insanely competitive though. If the Red Sox can’t fix their pitching woes, watch for either Baltimore or Toronto to capitalize. Hopefully the division can stay close and make for some great baseball leading up to the playoffs.
AL CENTRAL: Chicago White Sox
I might genuinely be stumped on this one. Can the Indians stay hot? The hottest team going into the All-Star break from this division was the Twins winning seven of their last 10… but it’s the Twins…Look for one of the other four teams to come out of the gate hot after the All-star break and I feel like that’s the team that will take it home. I’m going to go out on a limb here and say the White Sox somehow make it count this year. Sale wants to pitch with purpose and has been doing exceptionally well, and Adam LaRoche and his son aren’t around to be total jabronis anymore. I like Carlos Rondon as long as he doesn’t slip on any stairs anymore in the dugout (lol). Todd Frazier is murdering it in a White Sox jersey, even though he got snubbed for the all-star team. This will be an interesting division to watch unfold and I’m excited to see what happens here.
AL WEST: Texas Rangers
Going into the All-Star break, the Rangers are on a bit of a cold streak. I still think that they have this division in the bag. The Angels are underperforming as always; the Swinging A’s just aren’t the swinging A’s anymore; Seattle is fun to watch but I don’t see them going far; the only real threat here’s the Houston Astros. Ian Desmond anyone? Love seeing him turn it around after being a total bonehead and turning down a $107 million/7 year deal from the Nationals. Cole Hamels is killing it on the mound for the Rangers. Prince Fielder has fallen off a little bit, but he’s turning it around gradually. The Rangers are just an all around fun team to watch especially whenever Elvis is messing around grabbing Beltre’s head – they have so much young talent. I think they’re the lock for AL West winner. They also have my favorite name in baseball: ROUGNED ODOR.
AL Wild Card Team 1: Toronto Blue Jays
I just love the offensive firepower of this team. Led by Josh Donaldson, who has been an absolute monster batting .304 with 80 runs scored, 63 RBIs and 23 homers, the Jays really look like they are going to keep the AL East close. Fun Fact: Josh Donaldson is the first person to record 20+ home runs and 80 runs scored before the All-Star break. Could he be flirting with Back to back AL MVPs? Only time will tell.
AL Wild Card Team 2: Houston Astros
I really am into the Houston Astros pulling away the second wild card spot for the AL. The Astros are an absolute offensive powerhouse, and can put up 10+ runs in the blink of an eye. José Altuve is playing like a complete monster and he makes an argument for being the best second baseman in the league. Carlos Correa is someone that every team wishes they had playing shortstop. There’s just so much young talent here. I feel it’s necessary for Dallas Keuchel to return to his 20-8/2.48ERA self from last year for the Astros to make it to the Wild card game, which in last year he pitched the lights out against the Yankees, going 6 innings and only allowing 3 hits, no runs and recording 7 strikeouts. If we watch the Astros vs the Blue Jays, be prepared for an all out slugfest.
By: Zach Miller
Featured Image Credit: thesportsquotient.com