1. Cleveland Indians (93 wins)
Cleveland was very good last year and there is no reason to think they won’t be very good this year, as they are comprised of mostly young players who are improving. Fausto Carmona’s workload (and Sabathia’s to a lesser extent) scare me, but I think Cliff Lee should be able to bounce back. At some point you’d think one of the Indian’s great middle relief guys (Betancourt, Perez, Lewis) will take over for Borowski.
2. Detroit Tigers (91 wins)
I’ve already described at length my feelings on the Tigers in a previous post. I think they will be good, but not as good as everyone thinks. There are a ton of question marks with their pitching staff, particularly in the bullpen, and their lineup is good but not quite historically good, as some people suggest.
3. Minnesota Twins (81 wins)
Despite losing Johan Santana, the Twins have some reasons for optimism. Liriano is coming back, Delmon Young seems poised to achieve some of his considerable potential, and the Twins still have a good core of players in Morneau, Mauer, Nathan, etc.
All that said, they just don’t have the lineup to compete with the Indians and Tigers. However, they are such a well-run team, I think they’ll still find their way to .500.
4. Kansas City Royals (71 wins)
I don’t follow the Royals too closely, but they do have some positives. Gil Meche proved himself last year to be a quality starter. Alex Gordon and Billy Butler are poised for breakout years. The rest of the squad is young and improving as well. Joakim Soria had a great second half at closer last year.
Will they win this year? Probably not. But they’ve shown a recent willingness to spend some money so I think there is some hope that they can compete in the future.
5. Chicago White Sox (70 wins)
This is probably too low for the White Sox, but I just don’t know if I see them putting it all together. I like Swisher and Vazquez is quietly becoming the pitcher everyone thought he’d be, but everyone else on the team is aging and figures to get worse.
They’ve also had a plethora of articles written about them this spring saying their projected win total is way too low because you can’t quantify things like “heart” and “will” and “character.”
Unfortunately for the Sox, those things aren’t real so they don’t really help win baseball games. And what’s most ironic about the whole thing is I have no idea why the White Sox sports writers would choose to take umbrage with PECOTA’s projected standings. PECOTA nailed the White Sox last year. 72 wins. Exactly.
So shouldn’t they just shut up about projections for at least a year?