EDITOR’S NOTE: Teams in each division are listed in order of their forecasted finish during the 2005 regular season. The number in parentheses refers to the Plaza’s AL projected win total.
Angels (91Â½): The franchise that wants to be called Los Angeles should win the division. Expect a big year from Garret Anderson and getting Boston hero Orlando Cabrera at shortstop. Francisco Rodriguez will be lights out as the new closer. Lost 3B Troy Glaus to Arizona, closer Troy Percival to Detroit and SS David Eckstein to St. Louis and are still loaded.
Mariners (80Â½): Feast or famine at Safeco. Ichiro Susuki could win the MVP with heavy power support from new additions Adrian Beltre (Dodgers) and Richie Sexson (Arizona). Lots of questions with pitching and Sexson’s health, but worth gamble.
Athletics (79Â½): Oakland won’t drop that far despite losing two-thirds of the Big 3. At least Barry Zito is around, and he should flourish as the clear ace. Erubiel Duraso, if healthy, is a stud. Great management keeps A’s in the hunt.
Rangers (79Â½): The best young power hitting in baseball with Alfonso Soriano, Mark Teixeira and Hank Blalock. However, Kenny Rogers anchors a horrible pitching staff that will challenge that offense to score seven runs a game to win.
Twins (89Â½): Cy Young winner Johan Santana heads an experienced team that may finally have the total package to win the AL pennant. Great OF in Shannon Stewart, Torii Hunter and Jacque Jones. Solid bullpen. Future star in catcher Joe Mauer. Joe Nathan anchors great bullpen with 44 saves and league leading 1.62 ERA.
Indians (83Â½): Catcher Victor Martinez led all AL catchers in homers (23) and RBI (108). Cliff Lee and Jake Westbrook are pitchers to watch. Travis Hafner provides plenty of pop at DH. But the Indians just not as good as Twins.
White Sox (82): Lots of changes. Just a question of whether Jermaine Dye fits in better than Magglio Ordonez in right field. Also, the Sox have to find a spot for Frank Thomas, who looks like odd man out. We like lefty Mark Buehrle to have big year.
Tigers (78Â½): Lif Detroit has Ordonez for full season and he delivers usual numbers, Detroit could finish ahead of Chicago for third and perhaps a shot at second. Pitching staff is young, but without a reliable No. 1 starter.
Royals (65): The Royals are bad. No power, no pitching and no chance in the division. Too bad because a winner in Kansas City is good for baseball and that great ballpark looks so much better with fans in the seats.
Yankees (101Â½): Randy Johnson just has to win 20 to 25 games with that lineup and closer Mariano Rivera will have plenty of opportunities to post 50 saves. A-Rod anchors an awesome lineup and Jason Giambi will bounce back. The anger of being the first to ever blow a 3-0 best of 7 lead against Boston in the ALCS will push the Bombers back to the top of the division.
Red Sox (95): It’s still hard to think of Boston as the defending World Series champ. Curt Schilling needs another big year. The lineup is solid. Just a matter of whether the drive is there for a repeat.
Orioles (80Â½): Baltimore can play with the Yankees and Red Sox in terms of offense with Sammy Sosa added to a lineup that includes SS Miguel Tejada, 3B Melvin Mora and future Hall of Famer Rafael Palmeiro. Like Texas, lack of pitching the killer.
Devil Rays (71Â½): These guys are not laughed at anymore. Carl Crawford is the complete package and there’s plenty of talent about a year away. You’ll see a lot of names you’ve never heard of, but this team can field, bunt and run. Lost traits these days.
Blue Jays (69): Losing Carlos Delgado to Florida hurt deep.. The Jays move 3B Eric Hinske to first after acquiring Corey Koskie (Twins). Vernon Wells is solid in CF and P Roy Halladay is a past Cy Young winner. In the wrong division.