MLB Preview: American League Preview
Reigning Champs – Kansas City Royals
Al Pennant Odds: +600. World Series Odds: +1400
The World Series Champions return in 2016 as one of the top contenders in the American League, largely due to their ability to keep their team intact. Some of their trade deadline acquisitions in 2015 have moved on to larger deals in bigger markets, but the Royals managed to re-sign key core players such as Alex Gordon and Alcides Escobar. The Royals’ will continue to employ the same formula that has catapulted them to three straight winning series and two consecutive trips to the World Series – a spicy mixture of defense, speed and relief pitching.
The Power Bats – Toronto Blue Jays
AL Pennant Odds: +600. World Series Odds: +1400
The Toronto Blue Jays were far and away the best offense in baseball last season, outscoring the second best team by more than 100 runs. The Jays have retained the majority of that offense for 2016 - including the reigning MVP Josh Donaldson. The Blue Jays have some questions surrounding their starting rotation, but if Marco Stroman and J.A Happ can pick up where they left off last year, the Blue Jay will be able to minimize the loss of David Price and have a great shot at representing the AL in the World Series this season.
Offseason Championship - Boston Red Sox
AL Pennant Odds: +550. World Series Odds: +1400
After a disappointing season in 2015, the Red Sox’s front office had a busy – and expensive – offseason, which has seen them become the favourites to win the AL pennant. The Red Sox signed arguably the most coveted free agent of the offseason – starting pitcher David Price – to a whooping 217 million dollar contract. That move, combined with a big trade to land Craig Kimbrel, has Boston well-positioned in 2016. Injuries and aging players will be the biggest problem for the Red Sox – as it plagued them last season – and leaves some uncertainty around whether the team can be at 100% in August and September when the games matter the most.
Bold Underdog Pick - Seattle Mariners
AL Pennant Odds: +2000 . World Series Odds: +4000
The Mariners entered 2015 as a popular pick to win the AL West and make the playoffs for the first time since 2001 – but 2015 ended in disappointment. The Mariners have a chance to end that streak this season. The Mariners have top tier players on their roster including pitcher Felix Hernandez –who has been an All-Star the last 5 seasons – and Nelson Cruz – who has 84 home runs over the past two season, most in the AL. Last year the AL West had two representatives in the postseason, but both of those teams have some questions surrounding whether last year was simply some luck – looking at the Texas Rangers – and whether they can consistently be good – looking at the Houston Astros. Because of this, the Mariners are a sneaky pick in 2016.
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