American League Division Winners:
AL East: Boston Red Sox- The Red Sox seem poised to win what appears to be the toughest division in baseball. The defending World Series champions are currently 46-29 and seem to have finally recovered from the Japan road trip in the beginning of the season. J.D. Drew’s large contract seems to be panning out based on his current numbers, and Jacoby Ellsbury is in the top 5 in the American League in runs. This division will not be an easy one to win, however, as 4 of the 5 teams are currently above .500. The Red Sox definitely have the tools to win the division though, because of their great pitching as well. With Dice-K Matsuzaka and Clay Bucholtz at the top of the rotation, as well as Jon Lester, the Red Sox have one of the best pitching rotation in the MLB. Jonathan Papelbon is one of the best closers in baseball, and with this team the Red Sox should not lose the division race.
AL Central: Chicago White Sox- the White Sox are in an extremely weak division. The Tigers and Indians, the two favorites coming into the year, have both flopped and it does not appear they will be able to make a comeback and win the division. The only team in the division above .500 besides the White Sox are the Twins, who will most likely fall off near the end of the season, and are only 1 game above .500 currently. Ozzie Guillen is a great manager, and despite the fact that his offense has struggled, he has still helped the team win. I cannot see any other team winning this division besides the Tigers who are currently reeling, and the only way this could happen is if the Tigers go on a large winning streak, so the pick here is the White Sox.
Al West: Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim- despite the team’s stupid name, I do expect them to win the division. The Rangers are currently .500 but do not have the pitching to be true contenders. The Athletics are an interesting team to watch, because of their young stars. They are currently .500 but it is not yet known whether Billy Beane will try and deal his best “old” players. Joe Blanton appears to be on the market, and is only 27. If this would happen, it would appear there would be little chance of the A’s contending in the AL West. The Angels, however, have the best team in the AL West. Vlad Guerrero makes the middle of the lineup strong. Chone Figgins is always a threat to steal a base and Howie Kendrick is a good hitter as well. These 3 along with Gary Matthews Jr., Torii Hunter, and Garret Anderson make the Angel’s lineup extremely balance. Also, since his return from the DL, John Lackey has looked like the ace he did last year. The Angels also have Joe Saunders, Jered Weaver, Jon Garland, and Ervin Santana to make up the best 5-man rotation in all of baseball. The Angels are sure to win the AL West.
Wildcard: New York Yankees- The Yankees have finally put all the pieces together and look great. Jorge Posada should be returning to the lineup soon, and Alex Rodriguez is back and is on a tear. Jason Giambi has been playing well, as has Derek Jeter. When the Yankees offense works out all of its problems, it should be the best lineup in the entire playoffs. The pitching is also starting to come together with the move of Joba Chamberlain to the starting rotation, a move that has looked better and better after each of his starts. Andy Pettite should be fine, and Darrel Rasner has even contribute. The bullpen is weak overall, but the fact that Mariano Rivera anchors makes it good enough to win the wild card, with seemingly the only other contender coming from the same division in the form of the Tampa Bay Rays. The Yankees always seem to make the playoffs, and if I picked against them, I would be remiss when they miraculously made them yet again.
1. Boston Red Sox
2. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
3. Chicago White Sox
4. New York Yankees
Boston Red Sox vs. Chicago White Sox
Unfortunately, divisional opponents can’t play each other in the first round, no matter what their records are, so we are left with a Sox series. I expect the Red Sox to take care of business here. They should sweep this series because of their superior talent. The White Sox were lucky to make the playoffs, but the Red Sox know how to get the job done in October.
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim vs. New York Yankees
I predict the Angels will win this series in 4 games. Their pitching is far superior to that of the Yankees, and pitching wins in the playoffs. Their amazing rotation will be enough to shut down the Yankees, and Vladimir Guerrero should tee off on the sub par Yankee pitchers. The Angels have a good, balance lineup as previously stated, and I predict another post-season letdown for the Bronx Bombers in their last year at Yankee Stadium.
ALCS: Boston Red Sox vs. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
I expect the Angels to win this series in 6 games. The Red Sox have been bitten by the injury bug, and will be without Schilling for the post-season. I think even with the pileup of injuries, they have solidified themselves as a top 2 team in the American League because of their depth, bu because of the strength of the Angel rotation, I expect them to win this series. They have by far the best 5 man rotation in baseball.
World Series prediction (Angels vs. Diamondbacks) soon to come.