Oct 10, 2013; Oakland, CA, USA; Oakland Athletics left fielderYoenis Cespedes
(52) hits a single during the fifth inning against the Detroit Tigers in game five of the American League divisional series playoff baseball game at O.co Coliseum. The Detroit Tigers defeated the Oakland Athletics 3-0. Mandatory Credit: Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports
The Oakland Athletics were close to locking in the top seed in the American League last season, but ended up with the second spot instead. This lead to them playing Detroit yet again, and Justin Verlander. Had the A’s had the top spot they would have faced the Rays instead of the Tigers, and that could have led to an entirely different outcome in October. But the past is the past, and the A’s need to focus on 2014. So here is my prediction for the Playoff seeding for the American League in 2014.
2nd Wildcard Spot: Texas Rangers
I know how it looks. An Oakland A’s website picking the Rangers for a wildcard spot, that has to have some biased to it. But here is why the wildcard spot is the best the Rangers will get.
The Rangers went out and got some big bats to add to their lineup. They acquired Prince Fielder in a trade that sent away Ian Kinsler. They also signed Shin Soo-Choo to a 7 year deal worth $130 million. They have one of the best lineups out there no doubt, but the pitching is going to kill them. The Rangers have big holes in the rotation. They have their ace Yu Darvish, but their no. 2 guy Derek Holland is out because of injury. Speculation says he will be out for the first half of the season. You can read more about it here, but basically the Texas Rangers will have to do without their no. 2 starter. He and Darvish were the only great starting pitchers they had, the rest of the rotation will likely contain Martin Perez, Alexi Ogando, Colby Lewis, and Nick Tepesch. Matt Harrison will replace Lewis or Tepesch when he recovers from an injury as well, but he is likely to return in mid-April.
Without good pitching, the team won’t get too far. If they face teams that have great pitching, their lineup won’t win games. If an opposing pitcher can keep their hitters silent, the Rangers won’t put up runs. And if their pitching isn’t all that great then the opposing teams will score more runs than they will. The Rangers chose the wrong players to sign. They should have spent the money on great pitchers, not great hitters. For that they will only reach the 2nd Wildcard spot, and that’s where the Rangers land in playoff seeding.
1st Wildcard Spot: Tampa Bay Rays
The Rays have decided to keep David Price, who is an outstanding, elite pitcher. Many people thought that the Rays were going to trade away Price to bring in a wealth of prospects to keep the team right in the mix of the playoff race for years to come. That hasn’t happened yet. So it is safe to assume that the Rays will be competitive the first half of the season, and if by the all-star break they are still within reach of first place in the AL East, then they might just decide to keep Price until he reaches free agency. It’s tricky to predict if this will happen or not, but I chose the Rays for the first wildcard spot assuming Price is going to stay with the team all season. Price is a strong force that led the Rays to the ALDS against the Red Sox. With a well rounded rotation that has an excellent ace, the Rays above average pitching will get them just enough wins to claim the 1st wildcard spot.
3rd Playoff Seed: Detroit Tigers
The Detroit Tigers lost some major players this offseason in Doug Fister and Prince Fielder. They do have Ian Kinsler, but the rotation took a hit. Nonetheless the deadly duo of Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander along with offensive stud Miguel Cabrera will lead the Tigers to yet another division title. That means they will have one of the three playoff seeds. While they are a great team that consistently makes playoffs, they haven’t had a top seed in the past two years, finishing in the 3rd spot both years. While they will win a lot of games, they won’t win enough to get higher than the 3rd spot in playoff seeding, especially with some of the departures they’ve had.
2nd Playoff Seed: Boston Red Sox
The Red Sox are the defending champions and they will once again win the AL East. They may have lost a few players but for the most part they have the same team returning and the players like Jacoby Ellsbury that are gone have prospects to replace them.
Overall this team doesn’t have much competition in their division. The Orioles are a good team but they’re not quite good enough yet to challenge the Red Sox for the division. The same applies for the Tampa Bay Rays, although they will make the playoffs. The Yankees signed a lot of big names but overall it won’t be enough to win the AL East. The Blue Jays haven’t made that many moves and last year we saw they were not too competitive. Basically the other teams have not made the right moves to steal the division title. The Red Sox remain the best team in their division and they will win more games than the Tigers. It will be a close call but they will barely miss the top seed by no more than a two game difference.
1st Playoff Seed: Oakland Athletics
The Oakland Athletics barely missed the top seed last year, but this will be the year they get it. It will be largely in part due to an improved pitching staff. Many argue that the Angels and the Rangers are poised to take the division title away from the Oakland A’s, but they’re lack of dominant pitching will not allow them to do so. The rest of the west may have added some big name bats, but the A’s were the only team in the AL West focusing on improving their pitching. There are many reasons why I believe the Oakland A’s will win the AL West, but here is why they will win the top seed for the American League as well; not only will they have a huge boost in both their rotation and their bullpen, they will also have two bats that they surely missed in 2013. Josh Reddick and Yoenis Cespedes are looking good so far in Spring, and they both have a fresh clean slate to start off with. So with a lethal pitching staff and a boosted lineup, the Oakland Athletics will win the most amount of games in the American League and come out the winners in a very contested competition for the no. 1 spot in playoff seeding.