2019 MLB Preview: American League

alpreviewThe American League is consistently the most talked about league in baseball far overcoming the National League.

A big part of that is the fact that the AL is home to some of the biggest teams in the game with some of the biggest fan bases.

Although the Los Angeles Dodgers are one of those major teams the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox alone equal a bigger impact.

They are always at the top of the list when it comes to the biggest teams in baseball and that brings a lot of attention to the league they pay in.

That attention only increases with the way that the game is played in the American League as opposed to the National League.

Where the NL is always seen as a more traditional league, largely due to the focus on pitching and the lack of DH, the American League is one that highlights some of the new thoughts in baseball.

A lot of that has to do with power plain and simple both on the offence and the defensive side of the plate.

Although every team across the league follows suit when things become successful there is a sense that in the American League it is just a little different.

The concentration for the longest tie has been on offence and not just any offence, powerful offence.

The AL is a league that loves the long ball more than any other with home run hitters valued beyond anyone else.

They have led the power surge in the MBL with home runs becoming king over the last few years.

It is now becoming a bigger part of the game for more reasons than the last power surge that hit the league.

In the 1990s it was more about the right mix of chemicals during an era that the MBL would sooner forget.

This new surge comes from the fact that MLB teams began finding new ways to eliminate offence on the diamond.baseball-sidebar

With adjustments to defensive alignments making ground balls automatic outs players began launching the ball over the heads of the infielders.

New swings evolved and put the ball in the air often launching them out of the park entirely.

Defences are trying to adjust and their best way is to find pitchers who can overpower the powerful hitters.

Pitchers are throwing faster and harder than ever before and the American League is full of those flame throwers in an attempt to slow down the power at the plate.

That battle is becoming key for every team and with so many teams looking to find that balance the battle continues to evolve.

Although the National League has a lot of great players and power throughout the league there is no doubt the evolution is coming from the American League.

With power now a constant theme among AL teams it comes down to who has the most this time around.

Last year it was the Red Sox but moves throughout the league may have shifted that power to a new team.

Then again the Red Sox might just be getting started but no matter what the battle is going to feature some fireworks throughout the year.

AL East

The American League East is consistently one of the toughest divisions in the MLB with some of the top talent in the league located in this division. Last year it was all down to one of the biggest rivalries in the game as the Boston-New York fight was back like it used to be years ago. With young talent leading both teams it was a fun battle to watch and that youth movement seems to be invading every team in the league, with the results aleast-factsdetermining who will compete this year. The Baltimore Orioles were far from the fight for the top last year sinking to the bottom of the division. This year they are just at the start of what could be a major rebuild making their season a tough one to watch. They have added youth and have some promising prospects to go along with their last remaining superstar in Chris Davis but the fact is there is still a lot of time and work to be done. The Toronto Blue Jays are just slightly further along in that rebuild process as there are a team with a lot of great talent but much of that talent is in the minors. That includes the #1 rated prospect in all of baseball, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. who will likely start the season on the injured list. The famous names don’t stop there though as Guerrero could be joined by sons of major leaguers like Bo Bichette and Cavan Biggio sooner than later. That youth movement is just on the tip of making a difference in Toronto and so they will remain near the bottom but could be a fun team to watch if these youngsters make their way to the majors this season. In Tampa, the goal has always been to get the most out of young players in order to compete with teams that have massively different budgets. Last year that worked out well especially at the end of the year but it wasn’t enough to get anywhere thanks to spectacular seasons by the Yankees and Red Sox. The Rays do a lot with very little and they will do the same this year but the major question will be whether or not it is enough. The Yankees and Red Sox will define this division once again as the mixture of young talent and veterans makes both dangerous. The Yankees will ride the Bronx Bombers 2.0 as Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton looking great together, at least when Judge was healthy. Along with that and the addition of James Paxton and an emerging Luis Severino it is hard to say that the Yankees won’t find their way to the postseason if they stay healthy. The Red Sox had a historic season last year on their way to the World Series and much of that team is back. The problem for them is that they never had a great bullpen and it might just be worse off this time around add that to the fact that they have constantly struggled to repeat after winning a championship and it could be a tougher year for them. There is a lot of rebuilding to do for a lot of teams in this division but it will still be defined by the biggest rivalry in the sport.

AL Central

The Central is a division that was once one of the best with multiple teams fighting for the top spot making it a good battle every year. That is far from the case in recent years as Cleveland is the only team that has shown life in the last few seasons. They are a great team but with little to no competition, it isn’t hard for them to take titles and look towards the postseason before the season even starts. As the 2019 season approaches alcentral-factsmultiple teams in the Central division are hoping that their rebuild can come a little ahead of schedule and that this is the year they can compete. That is going to be the question for a number of teams at different levels of the rebuild. At the very start of the rebuild are the Kansas City Royals and the Detroit Tigers who are heading into 2019 trying to build something for the future. For the Royals, the season took a turn for the worse even before the season began when Salvador Perez went down with an injury that would keep him out for the entire 2019 campaign. It leaves them without any major stars this year and a team full of potential and more than anything speed as Billy Hamilton, Terrence Gore and Whit Merrifield make up the scariest base running group in the league. They probably won’t be able to translate that into any real competitiveness much like the Tigers. In Detroit, the rebuild has been needed for a long time and finally, they are undergoing that rebuild but it means immediate pain. Miguel Cabrera is not the player he used to be and Nicholas Castellanos wants out leaving little to get excited about. They do have a lot of promising pitching prospects but nobody is sure when they are going to arrive. As these teams just start their rebuilding the Chicago White Sox are a little closer and are a team with the potential to surprise. Young stars like Yoan Moncada, Eloy Jimenez along with young arms like Carlos Rodon and Reynaldo Lopez could make this team a dark horse. The problem is that not all have shown the promise that they once had leaving some to wonder when they will finally show up. The team ready to give Cleveland a run will be the Minnesota Twins who showed that they can push the top team in the division. The problem for the Twins is that they are a good team but not a great team with a lack of superstars that will keep them out of the hunt. Then there is Cleveland, the best team in the division without question. They are a team that relies heavily on one of the best rotations in baseball with Corey Kluber and Trevor Bauer leading the way. They also have power in the middle of the lineup with Carlos Santana, Jason Kipnis and Hanley Ramirez bringing some pop to the lineup. Minnesota could press them and Chicago might surprise but it seems like the division will once again go to Cleveland.

AL West

The West is a bit of a strange division as on paper this seems like one of those divisions where there is clearly one team above the rest. Yet the best player in the division sits on a different team and other teams have been among the bigger surprises over the last few years. Although this seems like a walk in the park for the Houston Astros with the greatest collection of talent nobody can rule out the other teams. That is the environment alwest-factsof the division as it is going to be an interesting season where the expected might not necessarily happen. In the west two teams in particular like to throw a wrench into the plans of everyone else and show that they can really compete with a talented team like the Astros. The Oakland Athletics are famous for doing exactly that as they have a history of doing more with less. The Moneyball era is far from over in Oakland and they did it again a year ago making a real push towards the postseason. It wasn’t enough though and this time around it might continue to be a struggle even with the emergence of Matt Chapman as their next star. They remain a team with a good group that now includes Jurickson Profar and Marco Estrada but it might never be enough. Seattle is another team that tends to surprise with less as they always seem to be on the edge of the postseason but like Oakland it has never been enough. The Mariners are a bit of a strange story as they seemed to be on the rebuild trading away some of their top talent but getting back interesting players like Edwin Encarnacion, Yusei Kikuchi and Mallex Smith. Those players still make them a team that could push to win the division but they could fall short once again. Another strange part of the division is the case of the Angels who have one of the biggest talents in the league and are wasting his best years. Mike Trout received a brand new contract becoming the highest paid player in all of sports and yet there isn’t a lot around him. Matt Harvey and Trevor Cahill can be great but haven’t shown it recently while Justin Upton and Andrelton Simmons can add offence but not enough. They have talent but it won’t be enough and for Trout, it will be yet another year sitting out of the postseason. The Texas Rangers might be one of the more expected teams in the division as they are still a team struggling to find an identity. They’re not a bad team but they haven’t been good enough in recent years and with limited changes, they aren’t looking like that will change. The Astros also haven’t changed a lot but with the talented group that they have, they don’t need to change much. Although Dallas Keuchel and Charlie Morton are gone the Astros still have Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole leading the way along with a potent offence that includes offence from all sides. That makes them the easy favourites to win it all again this year but Seattle and Oakland are there to try to spoil the party and surprise everyone.

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