Prediction: Tigers go to the World Series
We’ve reached that point in the year when I attempt to forecast which teams will be division winners. I’ll start with the American League.
Of all the moves that were made during the offseason, three have the potential to impact the chase for the AL pennant.
The obvious one is Albert Pujols to the Angels. And then there’s Prince Fielder signing with the Tigers, who are leaps and bounds ahead of the other teams in the AL Central. The midseason addition of Doug Fister to their rotation proved to be the best move made at last year’s trade deadline. Fister has a change to be a 20-game winner, with a full-year in Detroit and a lineup that will score runs in bunches. And I think AL MVP and Cy Young Award winner Justin Verlander may be better this year than in 2011.
Back to those impact moves: If Yu Darvish can stay healthy, the Rangers should make another trip to the postseason. Keep in mind that we have the additional Wild Card team this year, so here is how I see the AL shaking out:
I like Rangers over Angels in the West, and I the Yankees will rise to the top of the East while Detroit wins the Central in a runaway.
As for the Wild Cards, I’ve got the Angels and Red Sox playing the one-game playoff for the chance to advance to the Division Series. I have the Angels winning that game, which means they will have to play Detroit in the DS. Detroit will have the best regular-season record but, this year, that will mean playing the first two games on the road in Anaheim. Regardless, I still see the Tigers winning that series.
That means Texas and New York would play the other series, and I’d take the Rangers in that one, setting up a rematch of last year’s ALCS between the Rangers and Tigers. Adding Prince to the lineup gives the Tigers the edge and, unlike last season, Detroit advances to the World Series.