Friday, October 19, 2012

American League Recap

Congratulations to the Detroit Tigers on sweeping the New York Yankees to win the ALCS and will represent the American League in the 2012 World Series. Now that the American League has been whittled down to one, what can we take away from the post-season? Plenty, here are my takeaways on the teams this season and going forward along with some miscellaneous thoughts.

Baltimore Orioles

Season Result: Lost the ALDS to the NY Yankees 2-3.
The Orioles shocked everyone by not only reaching their first winning season in 15 years, but by competing for the AL East title until the final series.They shocked Texas in the wild card play-in game, but the magic was smothered by a dominant CC Sabathia in game 5 of the ALDS. This was a great result for the Orioles, but a lack of top end starting pitching leaves me skeptical that they will repeat this seasons success. Still, breaking the spell of a losing culture may help lure in a few key free agents and a consecutive winning season could be on tap for 2013.

Detroit Tigers

Season Result: TBD, Beat the NY Yankees 4-0 in ALCS
Detroit did not play up to their hype and waited until the end of the season to claim the AL Central. Winning the Central worked in their favor as they survived a spirited series from Oakland before sweeping away the ghosts of New York. Lost behind the luster of Triple Crown Winner Miguel Cabrera and Cy Young candidate Justin Verlander were the overlooked contributions of Prince Fielder, Delmon Young and the emerging success of Max Scherzer. The rest of the team has done a masterful job playing second fiddle to their super-two and now their desired result is just four wins away.

New York Yankees

Season Result: Lost ALCS to the Detroit Tigers 0-4
This aging team was exposed this postseason and their lack of offense does not bear well for this team going forward. The key blow struck early in the season with Mariano Rivera going down to ACL surgery. They were able to win the AL East without him, but his presence in the postseason was sorely missed. As the post-season goes the crushing blow had to be losing Derek Jeter to a broken ankle in the 12th inning of game 1 of the ALCS. That blow seemed to suck the heart out of the team as they faded quietly into the offseason after that. Looking forward New York cannot like what they see. Assuming a 37-year old Jeter will return healthy and productive by opening day is a pipe dream. Just look at how long it took the much younger Stephen Drew and David Freese to come back from similar injuries. If he struggles to come back where can he go? Alex Rodriguez will still be over at third, Cano at second, Texiara at first. I do not believe the Captain will go quietly to the DH or LF. This team may still win, but don't be surprised if they make like the 2012 Philadelphia Phillies.

Oakland Athletics

Season Result: Lost ALDS to the Detroit Tigers 2-3
If you can feel bad about the result of the Athletics season you better be Billy Beane. This team had the lowest payroll in the AL (and second lowest overall) to start the season. They traded their top 2 pitchers before the season began and still had a dominant pitching staff. The entire infield was replaced in season and they still won the AL West over the big spending Anaheim Angels (4th overall) and Texas Rangers (6th). Similar to the Orioles they fell short in game 5 of the ALDS, but that should not take away from the run this team had and the key pieces they have going forward. Winning the AL West is a reachable goal, but they should contend next season for at least a wildcard spot.  

Texas Rangers

 Season Result: Lost AL Wildcard game to Orioles
Arguably the most disappointing team in the AL Postseason. A team that was almost penciled in for the World Series suffered a late season collapse that forced them into the wildcard game instead of ALDS*. (*as the Rangers and Orioles finished with identical records they would have had an extra game with either last seasons format or this seasons) Getting beat, at home, to Joe Saunders probably feels like a little salt in the wound, but their problems were greater than one game. They truly felt the loss of CJ Wilson and with a few key injuries to their pitching staff they lacked the ace they needed to work deep into the postseason. Going forward they need to look at the pitchers on their roster and see if they don't need to go after a front line starter or gamble on what they have. I like Yu Darvish, but I think he is better off as a #2 at best on this team. They also have a decision on Josh Hamilton, but keep him or kick him, I think their offense will be more than enough going forward. Texas fell victim to a wildcard game, but they should be back competing for the AL West and a deep run into the 2013 postseason.

Miscellaneous 

  • Replay is coming. Technology is at the point where quick and decisive calls can be made during the postseason on safe/out force plays as well as fair/foul/homerun calls. I only hope they look more to tennis and its quick responses to challenges and less to the NFL and the 2 minute review and 3 minute explanation. 
  • Zombie Bud Selig wins again. The wildcard pitted a great story David (Orioles) against the expectant Goliath (Texas). On top of that for the first time ever all four ALDS series when to five games. Cash grab though it was this season, in the AL it worked to perfection.