With March Madness in full effect and the NHL and NBA playoffs approaching us, the fact that baseball is around the corner seems to be an afterthought to many, especially in Pittsburgh. As the boys of summer prepare for another 162-game season, there are many questions surrounding each team around the league. Will the Boston Red Sox and Philadelphia Phillies be able to live up to the preseason hype after their off-season acquisitions? Will the San Francisco Giants be able to show that last year wasn’t a fluke? Who will win the divisions, which player should we be keeping an eye on for each team, and what’s the storyline for each team? Without further delay, here is my 2011 MLB preview and predictions for the American League.
1. Boston Red Sox- With an All-Star lineup from top to bottom and a proven rotation, look for the Red Sox to come out on top in the toughest division in baseball.
Storyline: Will Boston be able to live up to expectations with the star-studded lineup after missing the playoffs a year ago?
Player to watch: Adrian Gonzalez – Will he adapt from being the star no one knew about in San Diego, to the bright lights of Boston?
2. New York Yankees – Questions loom and the team is getting older, but still an elite team that can win it all.
Storyline: After striking out on Cliff Lee and the retirement of Andy Pettitte, how will the Yankees rotation perform this year?
Player to watch: A.J. Burnett – Can he bounce back from a down year?
3. Baltimore Orioles – Questions with pitching, but the offense is the best they have had in awhile.
Storyline: Can the Orioles finally compete in the East?
Player to watch: Brian Roberts- Their success hinges on his health.
4. Tampa Bay Rays – After losing Carlos Pena, Carl Crawford, Jason Bartlett and others, the Rays will take a step back.
Storyline: What do Manny Ramirez and Johnny Damon have left?
Player to watch: Jeremy Hellickson – The young stud looks to live up to the hype
5. Toronto Blue Jays – If only they were in another division.
Storyline: How will the young core of pitchers perform?
Player to watch: Jose Bautista – Will he come back down to earth after his career year?
1. Minnesota Twins – Top team until proven otherwise.
Storyline: The health of Joe Mauer and Jason Morneau.
Player to watch: Tsuyoshi Nishioka – How will the Japanese import adapt to the American game?
2. Chicago White Sox – The addition of Adam Dunn will provide a big bat for the Sox in the middle of the order.
Storyline: Will Gordan Beckham and Alexei Ramirez be able to play to their potential?
Player to watch: Jake Peavy – Is he finally over the injuries?
3. Detroit Tigers – Great talent, but they’ll go only as far as their pitching.
Storyline: How will they handle the Miguel Cabrera fiasco?
Player to watch: Rick Porcello – Can he shake the sophomore slump?
4. Cleveland Indians – Another long season for Cleveland fans
Storyline: Will Grady Sizemore be able to return to superstar form?
Player to watch: Shin-Soo Choo – One of the most underrated players in all of baseball.
5. Kansas City Royals – Another rebuilding year
Storyline: Who will step up after the loss of Zack Greinke?
Player to watch: Joakim Soria – Big time closer who gets little recognition.
1. Anaheim Angels – Veteran team looks to take back the West
Storyline: Will the Vernon Wells trade prove to be a good one?
Player to watch: Kendrys Morales – Morales looks to bounce back from injury after missing the majority of the season after the walk-off celebration led to a fluke injury.
2. Texas Rangers – The reigning champs will take a step back.
Storyline: How will the Rangers rotation be after the loss of Cliff Lee to free-agency?
Player to watch: Adrian Beltre – Can he shake the reputation of only performing in a contract year?
3. Oakland As – The sleeper, year-in and year-out.
Storyline: The best young pitching that nobody talks about.
Player to watch – Gio Gonzalez – Quietly went 9-4 with a 2.84 ERA in the final three months of the season.
4. Seattle Mariners – Will compete for the worst team in baseball.
Storyline: Outside of Ichiro and Felix Hernandez, who else will perform for the Mariners?
Player to watch – Chone Figgins – Key acquisition last season didn’t live up to expectations; could use a rebound year.
American League Champion: Boston Red Sox
About the Author
Written by Michael Waterloo
I'm currently pursuing my Master's degree in Communication and Journalism from Clarion University. I currently work for Ohio Valley Athletics where I serve as the West Virginia Football Beat Writer and cover West Virginia Men's Basketball as well. I'm a big Pittsburgh Pirates, Philadelphia Eagles, Pittsburgh Penguins, Pitt Panthers and Oregon Ducks fan. Follow me on Twitter at @MichaelWaterloo or visit www.ovathletics.com