American League Division Futures - Respect the Rays

While there are traditional powerhouses in the American League, it’s new faces around the league that take the spotlight here. From the young core in Toronto getting plenty of help around them and Seattle being a legit contender again in the West, the AL is going to be fascinating to watch play out this season. Speaking of the West:

Los Angeles Angles +400 to win the AL West

Does it seem foolish to trust the Angels despite constant disappointment year in and year out? Yeah, it does. However, it’s hard to look past the insanely talented core of this team and I think it gets forgotten because, well, we just haven’t seen them all together. 

It’s hard to predict injuries and that’s what is needed here when taking the Angels. Can Shohei Ohtani stay healthy after a full-MVP season? Can Mike Trout get back to being the workhorse he was before his injury-plagued 2021 season? Those are just a few of many, but with a little luck, the Angels stay healthy and their highly paid superstars lead the way. Anthony Rendon is the only one with slight concern since there’s been a very noticeable decline since he signed just a few years ago, but chances are Rendon likely has his best season with the Angels in 2022. What could really put the Angels over-the-top is the emergence of Jo Adell. He was one of the top prospects in baseball when he made his debut in 2020, but he hasn’t quite reached that potential. Adell has looked good in Spring Training and if that can carry over into the regular season then he just adds to an already dangerous lineup. And with the Angels pitching currently, they’re going to need it.

Detroit Tigers +600 to win the AL Central

Like the Dodgers in the NL West, I think the White Sox have all but locked down this spot in the AL Central. Guarantees in April obviously don’t mean anything, but there is a clear gap between the White Sox and the rest of the division. The White Sox dominated the division last season and got even better in 2022. It’s their division until proven otherwise. 

If you’re desperately looking for a nice payday in this division, I suggest taking a look at the Detroit Tigers. No need to get the reading glasses, maybe rub your eyes a few times just in case, but you read that right. THE Detroit Tigers are a team to watch out for this season and if for some reason the White Sox regress significantly this season the Tigers will be the team to take over. There’s some really good young talent that is ready to emerge in the big leagues. Starting Pitcher Casey Mize flashed some really good stuff in year two and could make an even bigger leap in 2022. Tigers also kept top prospect Spencer Torkelson on the big league roster and will be starting at first base. Round out that young talent with a promising Akiil Badoo and sprinkle in some veterans like Austin Meadows, and this really does look like a time that could turn some heads in the summer. Or they just end up being the usual Tigers and in that case I just look like a fool. That’s however a risk I’m willing to take.

Tampa Bay Rays +240 to win the AL East

It’s not often the books handicap a breakout team as favorably as they have done with the Blue Jays. That baseball team in Toronto does look intimidating with a couple of potential MVP candidates and what on paper looks like the best starting rotation in baseball. It’s just that handicapping the breakout this early seems like a bit overboard. Especially when last year’s division winner has been the most consistent team in baseball for two years now.

While I understand the love for the Blue Jays, it just doesn’t feel right seeing the Rays with the Yankees at +240 and not with the Blue Jays at the top. It’s hard to sell me on the Rays regressing just because they lost some players in the offseason. The Rays have always been able to plug and go better than any team in baseball recently and I think we need to respect that level of functionality from the organization. Does the starting rotation look great? No, but if there’s any team that can make it work, like they have, it’s the Rays. Same with the lineup. There are a few notable names, but it won’t wow anyone. Don’t know if there are hard numbers that I can sell you with, but I think the success of this organization should be respected and trusted. And I trust them enough to still be the best in the AL East.

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