After a four-month delay, Opening Day is finally here and we have a special quickie preview of the upcoming season with deep thoughts on all 15 teams in the American League. It seems like everyone is picking the New York Yankees to win the AL pennant and reach the World Series. But can anyone challenge the Bronx Bombers in a pandemic-shortened season?
Coming into the start of the season, the New York Yankees are the second-highest favorite on the board at 4/1 odds with significant money pouring in on the Bronx Bombers to win the World Series for only the second time in the 21st Century.
The Houston Astros, who lost in the 2019 World Series to the Washington Nationals, are the second-highest AL team on the futures board at 12/1 odds. The Astros are also reeling from the aftermath of a cheating scandal that delegitimized their championship run in 2017.
New York Yankees: The Bronx Bombers were hexed last season and suffered a ridiculous amount of injuries. We dubbed them “Bronx ER” because of so many starters that went on the IL. The Yankees are hell-bent on a championship. The Yanks busted the bank by acquiring ace Gerrit Cole from the Astros. The lineup is stacked, so long as everyone remains healthy. That list of fragile sluggers includes Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, and Gary Sanchez.
Tampa Bay Rays: The Rays are one of the few teams that won’t blink about playing in front of an empty stadium. The Rays are used to hearing crickets inside of the Trop, so they should flourish without any fans. Give the Rays credit. Their miserly front office never pays to retain top talent, but somehow, they manage to put a strong team on the field to give the stacked Yankees a run for their money.
Boston Red Sox: The Sox punted on the season before it even began when they traded away their best position player (Mookie Betts) and second-best pitcher (David Price) to the LA Dodgers. After destroying the Curse of Babe Ruth, New England baseball fans will quickly forget this shortened season. The real bummer though will be the loss of the beloved Cape Cod League, which shut down for the first time since WW2.
Toronto Blue Jays: The Nomad Blue Jays have yet to find a home. The Canadian government gave them the finger and rejected a chance to play in Toronto. When the Blue Jays tried to share PNC Ballpark in Pittsburgh, local health officials put the kibosh on that notion. Unless the Blue Jays can find a Baseball Island to play on, they’ll have to suck it up and play at a AAA stadium in Buffalo.
Baltimore Orioles: The O’s will suck. Again. We feel bad for announcer Gary Thorne. Let’s hope he has a stiff cocktail before every game this season, because even in a reduced 60-game season, it’s going to be another long year in Baltimore.
Minnesota Twins: The Bomba Squad set a new record for the most home runs in a season in 2019. So they went out and added another big bat to the lineup after signing Josh Donaldson away from the Braves. Rocco Baldelli did a heck of a job in his first year with the Twins. But will he suffer a sophomore slump? Even if the Twins win the AL Central, they still have yet to figure out how to beat those Damn Yankees in the postseason.
Cleveland Indians: In a pandemic season, you have to keep an eye on old-school managers. They’ll be the ones that can navigate the 60-game season and treat ever single series like its a playoff series. Terry Francona won World Series titles with the Red Sox. I’d hate to have to face them this season. If you’re looking for a fantasy stud, keep an eye on shortstop Francisco Lindor. He hit 32-plus home runs in his last three seasons.
Chicago White Sox: The White Sox are a popular pick this season. They have lot of young talent and, unless you’re from the South Side, you probably don’t know much about these up-and-coming ChiSox. Joe Abreu smacked 33 home runs and drove in 123 runs last season. If it weren’t for an injury in 2018, he would have reached 100-plus RBI in each of his first six seasons in the big leagues.
Kansas City Royals: The Royals are another one of those mid-market teams who don’t spend money to keep up with the Joneses (in this case, the Steinbrenners).
Detroit Tigers: Tigers? More like lethargic house cats. The low-fi Tigers are projected to win 22 games this season. It’s the second-lowest win total in the MLB. If it weren’t for the lowly Baltimore Orioles, the Tigers would be dubbed the worst team in baseball.
Houston Astros: Say hello to the Villains of Baseball. If any team benefited from a delayed season, it’s those cheating Astros. The cheating scandal blew up in the offseason and was expected to spill over into the regular season. The Astros still have a strong team, despite losing one of their aces to free agency (Cole to the Bronx). But everyone will be gunning for them, especially Jose Altuve. The KC Royals’ pitchers hit three Astros batters in an exhibition game this week. Expect to see lots of guys get plunked this season.
Oakland A’s: The Moneyball A’s always field a competitive team in the regular season. However, Moneyball fails to translate into postseason wins. Maybe Moneyball can be the proper hack to win a title in a 60-game reduced season?
Los Angeles Angels: The Angels added a new skipper with Joe Maddon, who wore out his welcome with the Chicago Cubs. Maddon is a SoCal guy and he couldn’t be happier to coach in his neck of the woods. The Angels have the best player in baseball with Mike Trout, who is the favorite to win the AL MVP at 2/1 odds. He’s fresh off foot surgery and said he would play this season, despite hints he might opt out due to COVID-19 fears.
Texas Rangers: The Rangers have a new stadium, Globe Life Field, that looks like a glorified tool shed. One of my friends that loves grilling meats thought the new ballpark looked like a BBQ grill. Usually it’s wise to take a flier on a team with a new stadium because it’s usually packed with fans. But in the pandemic, the Rangers will be playing in a tool shed without rabid fans.
— Texas Rangers (@Rangers) June 24, 2020
Seattle Mariners: The Mariners gutted the team last season to rebuild from scratch. The M’s definitely looked like a team in flux last season with 94 losses. At least they won’t have to sweat the possibility of losing 100 games again.