In 2012, the Boston Red Sox finished 69-93, last in the American League East. Yet last season the Sox tied for the major-league lead with 97 victories and won their third World Series title this century, the first team to do so.
Best Hitting Trio In Majors
The Los Angeles Angels thought they had the biggest impact offensive signing last offseason when they inked Josh Hamilton to a five-year $125 million deal. That didn't work out so well as Hamilton hit just .250 with 21 home runs and 79 RBIs. He, Albert Pujols and Mike Trout were supposed the scariest offensive trio in the majors. Pujols, whose contract looks almost as bad as Alex Rodriguez's now, was limited to 99 games because of injury and hit only .258. Trout was somehow even better in his second year as his first and soon will be MLB's first $300 million man.
Presuming the Halos can keep those three healthy, their offense should be excellent. L.A. also closed what had been a black hole at third base by acquiring David Freese from St. Louis as well as bolstered the pitching staff with Tyler Skaggs and Hector Santiago from Arizona for the overrated Mark Trumbo. The Angels still might not be done as they could sign a veteran free agent to fill out the back of the rotation. They are +1600 on BetOnline to win the World Series and +700 to win the pennant.
20 Years And Counting Up North
The Toronto Blue Jays were World Series favorites entering last spring after all their big moves last offseason. The big trade with the Marlins was so-so, with Jose Reyes playing well when healthy and Mark Buehrle putting up typical numbers on the mound. Josh Johnson was terrible. R.A. Dickey, acquired from the Mets, didn't have great numbers at 14-13 with a 4.21 ERA but he was much better after the All-Star Break. The Jays also are likely to still sign a free-agent pitcher. Injuries largely destroyed the rotation a year ago.
The offense looks potentially strong with a first four of Reyes, Melky Cabrera, Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion. It could be the best lineup in the AL East, particularly if Bautista and Reyes are healthy.
Toronto is +1800 to win the pennant and +2800 to win the World Series, vastly inflated numbers compared to this time last year. The Jays' first playoff spot since 1993 looks very possible and they have money to add pieces at the deadline.
Think Milwaukee's Ryan Braun will be motivated to have a big season? The former NL MVP was of course suspended the final 65 games of last year for violating the MLB anti-drug agreement. Braun has said all the right things since, finally apologizing to everyone, but the best thing he can do is hit. The Brewers have a solid lineup with rising stars Jean Segura and Carlos Gomez ahead of Braun and Aramis Ramirez. The team is high on outfielder Khris Davis, who had 11 home runs in only 56 big-league games last year, and it will be hard for second baseman Rickie Weeks to be as bad as he was last season. If he is, Scooter Gennett is ready to play second.
The rotation was recently boosted with the signing of Matt Garza. He should slot in as a No. 2 behind Yovani Gallardo, who struggled in 2013 but has ace-type stuff, and Kyle Lohse. The Brewers are only two seasons removed from a 96-win campaign that saw them in the NLCS. It will be tough to reach the playoffs playing in the deep NL Central with St. Louis, Pittsburgh and Cincinnati there, but it would be a good way to send out retiring commissioner Bud Selig, the former team owner.The Brewers are +3000 to win the pennant and +5000 MLB odds to win the World Series.