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Your 2020 Guide to the American League

Trucks have left facilities, and pitchers and catchers are soon to report. That means it’s time for prognostication about this upcoming season!

AL East

New York Yankees

Additions: Gerrit Cole

Subtractions: Dellin Betances, Didi Gregorius, CC Sabathia, Edwin Encarnacion

2019 Win Total: 103

2020 O/U: 101.5

My Prediction: 104-58

This team has changed, but not in the way you would immediately expect. Yes, they added Gerrit Cole, but they also lost valuable players such as Betances and Gregorius. While this might not mean much, as they have many players coming up through their ranks, it is something to keep your eyes on. Regardless, this team is certainly the favorite to win not only the division, but maybe the AL and the World Series.

Tampa Bay Rays

Additions: Yoshi Tsutsugoh, Hunter Renfroe, Jose Martinez

Subtractions: Tommy Pham, Avisail Garcia, Eric Sogard, Travis d’Arnaud, Jesus Aguilar

2019 Win Total: 96

2020 O/U: 90.5

My Prediction: 92-70

The big news in the offseason for this club was the “slapdick prospect” they got along with Hunter Renfroe in exchange for Tommy Pham. The more broad way of looking at this winter for the Rays is the fact that they let 5 average/above average hitters go in exchange for 3 bonafide hitters. Tsutsugoh is a question mark, as he will be making his American debut in 2020, after a productive career as a corner outfielder in Japan. This retooled lineup will pair nicely with the now healthy duo of Blake Snell and Tyler Glasnow to go along with Charlie Morton and that insane bullpen. This club is looking to repeat their success from a 96-win 2019 season that saw them get within a win of the ALCS.

Boston Red Sox

Additions: Martin Perez, Alex Verdugo

Subtractions: Mookie Betts, David Price, Rick Porcello

2019 Win Total: 84

2020 O/U: 86.5

My Prediction: 80-82

Mookie Betts and David Price are gone. The pitching staff has gotten WORSE. The only upside to this year is the though of a healthy Chris Sale, but even that isn’t a guarantee. So why do people think that this team might do better than last year? Beats me. The Mookie Betts trade was inevitable. It never seemed to be about the disputed gap of 5 million dollars per year over which Betts and Boston were in disagreement. The move was made because they wanted to get under the luxury tax next year, and they were done with the all-in pushes that have seen their farm system become barren over the past few years. Instead of a full reset, which is what would have happened in the future if they resigned Betts long-term, the organization is deciding to go with a reload instead. This may mean they won’t be competitive in 2020 or perhaps 2021, but it gives them an opportunity to be competitive in the near future if they accumulate a diverse core, unlike the purely offense-based core they have now. The hitting will be fun to watch with this team, but Sale is probably the only pitcher worth watching.

Toronto Blue Jays

Additions: Hyun-Jin Ryu, Travis Shaw, Tanner Roark, Chase Anderson, Shun Yamaguchi

Subtractions: Justin Smoak

2019 Win Total: 67

2020 O/U: 75.5

My Prediction: 75-87

The Toronto Blue Jays actually seem to have a good sense for what they need. Aside from Travis Shaw being acquired for Justin Smoak (who are essentially the same player), they focused on their weak point last year, which was pitching. They nabbed ace Hyun-Jin Ryu, in addition to valuable starters Tanner Roark and Chase Anderson. Additionally, they will benefit from full years out of Vlad Jr., Bo Bichette, and Cavan Biggio. While they might not be competing for a playoff spot, they may get close to 80 wins, which is a huge improvement from 67 the prior year.

Baltimore Orioles

Additions: Jose Iglesias

Subtractions: Jonathan Villar, Dylan Bundy

2019 Win Total: 54

2020 O/U: 55.5

My Prediction: 55-107

The rebuild of this club is moving at a glacial pace. They improved from historically bad in 2018 to plain terrible in 2019. If the trend continues, then they will upgrade to trash in 2020. The surprising value of Jonathan Villar in 2019 is now in the Marlins’ hands, and longtime bust Dylan Bundy is off to Anaheim. This club is looking to perhaps be competitive in 3-4 years, but the only thing worth watching on this team is Trey Mancini, and maybe the Anthony Santander fan club. Heck, Adley Rutschman might be more fun to watch in A-ball than this team.

AL Central

Minnesota Twins

Additions: Josh Donaldson, Kenta Maeda, Homer Bailey, Tyler Clippard, Rich Hill (aka Dick Mountain)

Subtractions: CJ Cron, Jonathan Schoop, Kyle Gibson, Martin Perez, Jason Castro

2019 Win Total: 101

2020 O/U: 92.5

My Prediction: 99-63

The Bomba Squad had an eventful offseason. They lost a few pieces of their lineup in Cron and Schoop, and a few rotation members in Gibson and Perez, but they replaced the latter with Kenta Maeda, Rich Hill, and Homer Bailey. That might seem like a wash, but I think the Donaldson pickup is what really moves the needle for this offseason. He had a revival last year with Atlanta, earning him big bucks this offseason for Minnesota. The Twins will benefit from getting to play 38 combined games against the Tigers and Royals, but they should be banging (too soon?) with the Astros for 2nd-best in the AL.

Chicago White Sox

Additions: Nomar Mazara, Yasmani Grandal, Gio Gonzalez, Dallas Keuchel, Edwin Encarnacion, Steve Cishek

Subtractions: Ivan Nova, Yolmer Sanchez, Jon Jay

2019 Win Total: 72

2020 O/U: 84.5

My Prediction: 85-77

It seems the White Sox are finally ready to start winning some games. They made some under-the-radar moves this season, acquiring All-Star backstop Yasmani Grandal, 20-home-run-hitter Nomar Mazara, DH Edwin Encarnacion, and veteran pitchers Gio Gonzalez and Dallas Keuchel. They may be in the thick of the playoff race for the second wild card this year, as Eloy Jimenez had an outstanding rookie year, Yoan Moncada made the leap to near-All-Star caliber, and Jose Abreu rounds out the returning members of the lineup. Their pitching was suspect last year, but it seems that they are trying to fix that with a couple of Cy Young candidates from years past. It may not result in playoffs this year, but they are definitely on the right track.

Cleveland Indians

Additions: Cesar Hernandez

Subtractions: Corey Kluber, Steve Cishek

2019 Win Total: 93

2020 O/U: 87.5

My Prediction: 84-78

The Indians are trending in the wrong direction, despite 93 wins last year. They lost Kluber in a trade to the Rangers, and as of now, Jason Kipnis, Danny Salazar, and Yasiel Puig are still unsigned. Their championship window has come and gone, but this team has plenty of bright spots, highlighted by Francisco Lindor, who will at least start the season with the Tribe, in addition to top-of-the-rotation studs Mike Clevinger and Shane Bieber, both of whom will make runs at this year’s All-Star team. They may be playing meaningful baseball in September, but I don’t see them playing any baseball in October.

Kansas City Royals

Additions: Maikel Franco

Subtractions: None

2019 Win Total: 59

2020 O/U: 65.5

My Prediction: 64-98

The Royals are keeping pretty much their entire team from last year the same, as they await prospects in the lower levels to develop. Salvador Perez will be back this year after missing 2019 due to Tommy John surgery, but him, Whit Merrifield, and the last couple years of Alex Gordon are all this team has to be excited about this year, because their pitching, both starting and relief, is atrocious.

Detroit Tigers

Additions: Austin Romine, CJ Cron, Jonathan Schoop, Ivan Nova

Subtractions: Tyson Ross, Josh Harrison

2019 Win Total: 47

2020 O/U: 55.5

My Prediction: 50-112

The Tigers, who have drafted more Super Bowl winning quarterbacks than the Lions, traded some trash (Tyson Ross, Josh Harrison) for relatively superior trash (Romine, Cron, Schoop, etc.). What does this result in? A team that could be confused for a minor league squad. 47 wins last year and hoping for somewhere in the 50’s this year is not great. They better hope Casey Mize and whoever they take in this year’s draft turn into actual players.

AL West

Houston Astros

Additions: None

Subtractions: Gerrit Cole, Robinson Chirinos, Will Harris, a trashcan, Wade Miley

2019 Win Total: 107

2020 O/U: 93.5

My Prediction: 95-67

The Astros held a two-bang salute to honor their fallen brothers, AJ Hinch and Jeff Luhnow, both of whom were canned (zing) after the sign-stealing-scandal saw them both be suspended for a year. They also hired Dusty Baker (on purpose!) to be their new manager, in addition to losing Gerrit Cole, both of which will definitely hurt the team. All jokes aside, this team will still be competitive, as aside from Cole, they didn’t lose too much. This team will be interesting to watch, as they recover from the dark cloud the scandal left over them. Will they be able to focus on winning? Yes, probably. Will they be as good as the last few years? Not quite, but they should win the division. It will also be interesting to see if Yordan Alvarez can sustain his production for a full season.

Oakland Athletics

Additions: Tony Kemp

Subtractions: Homer Bailey, Tanner Roark, Brett Anderson, Blake Treinen, Jurickson Profar

2019 Win Total: 97

2020 O/U: 89.5

My Prediction: 86-76

I have never been too high on the A’s. This year specifically, they seem to have tricked writers and odds makers into making them believe that their pitching is good. Spoiler alert: no. Sean Manaea is the only real reliable pitcher left on that team. They do have the Jesus lizard (Jesus Luzardo) being a full rotation member this year, but I don’t know what to expect out of Mike Fiers and Frankie Montas, both of whom were involved in their own controversies in the past year. Their lineup, headed by the two Matt’s, Olson and Chapman, and aided by Marcus Semien, can definitely mash, but I don’t think it will be enough to overcome the questions on the other side of the ball.

Texas Rangers

Additions: Corey Kluber, Robinson Chirinos, Kyle Gibson, Todd Frazier, Jordan Lyles

Subtractions: Nomar Mazara

2019 Win Total: 78-84

2020 O/U: 79.5

My Prediction: 82-80

This team seems to be good for 78 to 83 wins this year, as they have bolstered a surprisingly good pitching staff of Lance Lynn and Mike Minor with Corey Kluber and Kyle Gibson. Their lineup seems full of guys that hit bombs and strike out, like Frazier Gallo, and Odor, but they don’t really have a franchise player that a lot of teams have. The Rangers are definitely a weird team, with no real indication that they want to tank, but also no real evidence to support a playoff push, even if their offseason was spent acquiring major league talent, so I don’t really know what to expect.

Los Angeles Angels

Additions: Anthony Rendon, Dylan Bundy, Joc Pederson, Jason Castro, Julio Teheran

Subtractions: Kole Calhoun, Luis Rengifo

2019 Win Total: 72

2020 O/U: 85.5

My Prediction: 82-80

This organization does not see that they need pitching. I don’t want to hear about how Bundy and Teheran are going to help their rotation. Their rotation is full of number 3’s and number 4’s, like it has been for the past 10 years. They signed the wrong free agent in Anthony Rendon. They should have gotten a top-of-the-rotation ace like Cole or Strasburg, or even Ryu. Pitching has been the weak spot of this organization since Mike Trout came up, and it doesn’t look like they are going to try to do anything but move deck chairs around.

Seattle Mariners

Additions: Kendall Graveman, Yoshihisa Hirano

Subtractions: Felix Hernandez, Ryon Healy, Omar Narvaez

2019 Win Total: 68

2020 O/U: 67.5

My Prediction: 64-98

The most exciting thing for Mariners fans to think about is what their hockey team will be called. Trader Jerry (Jerry DiPoto) continues to wheel and deal his players just for the fun of it, without any organizational objective, a thing this team has lacked since 2001. This year will be no different, as they will once again be stuck in the basement with no real knowledge of when their team will be full of real players. Thanks for wasting Felix’s career.

Stay tuned for the NL preview and postseason predictions coming this week!

Photo: Elite Sports New York

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