The first week back from spring break did not provide the men’s baseball team with the results they
Published: Monday, April 23, 2012
Updated: Monday, April 23, 2012 14:04
The days of April and warm weather usually means the start of the baseball season. A lot of changes were made during the winter such as the signings of Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder who were considered to be the top two free agents of the past off-season. Both first basemen switched over from the National League Central division to the American League. Pujols has been struggling the first two weeks of the season but the beauty of the baseball season is that there are still 150 games left so anything can happen; some hitters tend to hit better between the months of June and September.
The main change is also the addition of a wild card team to the playoffs; I am not sure how that is going to work but I hope it doesn’t change the playoff race as much because watching the St. Louis Cardinals and Tampa Bay Rays come from 10 games back with a month left made for an amazing fall.
The Yankees won the American League East division last season. They went out and got two starters (Hiroki Kuroda and Michael Pineda) in order to bolster their rotation with an already equipped lineup. Derek Jeter has been off to an amazing start to the 2012 season continuing where he left off last season. The Yankees started off the season by getting swept by the Rays; this may be a sign that these two teams are going to battle it off for the division. With his three home runs against the Twins, Curtis Granderson showed that he might be on track to repeat the great season he had last year.
The dysfunctional Red Sox are continuing their free fall from last year when they lost the wild card on the last day of the season. The Blue Jays have the potential to compete for a playoff spot but their rotation has to deliver the whole season while the Orioles are more than likely going to end up in last place despite their strong start,.
The Tigers acquired Prince Fielder during the off-season as a way to make up for the loss of Victor Martinez. This will definitely be a plus for a team that was two wins away from making it to the World Series. For a team that won its division by 15 games (largest margin last season), will have no problem repeating as division champions. The one thing I would like to see is the rise of the Kansas City Royals; they have not made the playoffs in 26 years (second longest) and with the many young players they have drafted the last few years, they have the potential to surprise teams similar to the way the Rays did a few years ago. The Indians would probably make a run for second place of the division but with the talent in the AL East and West I doubt they will make the playoffs. Especially since they did not make any changes to better their team.
The AL West is a two team race between the Rangers (two-time AL Pennant champions) and the Los Angeles Angels. Ace C.J. Wilson went to the Angels after leading the Rangers to the World Series the past two years and adding Albert Pujols shows that this team wants to win with the pitching they have; if Albert can hit like he did in the National League the Angels can definitely end the Rangers reign. Angels lacked in hitting leaving their rotation vulnerable to the Texas lineup throughout the season.
The National League East can be as competitive as the American League East, every team has a decent shot of making the playoffs. The Phillies have won the division the past five years and their lineup is starting to show its old age, their amazing rotation is going to lead them to the playoffs. The Nationals have a better chance of breaking their league leading 30 straight seasons not appearing in the playoffs. Their rotation posts one of the best ERA in the early going and if they keep it up and the addition of Bryce Harper to their lineup later in the season can lead to a wild card berth. As much hype the Marlins had this off season I really need to see them play because Jose Reyes is injury prone as well as Josh Johnson. I don’t see the Braves or Mets making the playoffs (Braves may still have their hangover from their collapse last September).
In regards to the NL Central, the departures of Prince Fielder and Albert Pujols may give Joey Votto and the Cincinnati Reds the opportunity to bounce back from their performance last season. I can see an eventual rise of the Pirates in the next couple of years just as the Royals. I figure the Cubs and Astros will struggle as they did last season they figure to be in a rebuilding state.National League West has always been an interesting division; each team has at least won the division the last eight years. Giants got Buster Posey back after he missed more than 60 percent of the previous season but has now lost their Brain Wilson (most saves the past five years).
This division is all about pitching and the Giants are going to depend on their bullpen to replace Wilson’s production. Dodgers are off to a 10-3 start and the bats that failed to produce last year are heating up, if this continues this team should return to the playoffs. It would not surprise if Arizona will make this division competitive with the same pitching as last season.
This will be another competitive season; in the American League the five teams that are more than likely making the playoffs will be the Rays, Yankees, Tigers, Angels and Rangers. The National League will more than likely go Phillies, Dodgers, Reds, Nationals and Giants.