Tuesday, April 24, 2012

AL Powerhouses Slugging It Out Early

I have to give credit where credit is due. Whomever thought that it was a good idea to have the top American League teams play each other to start the season should get a raise. He or she had tremendous foresight to have the Angels, Rangers, Rays, Red Sox, Tigers and Yankees mostly play against each other to start the season. It has produced some exciting baseball in the early going.

The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (I really hate writing that) who are coming off their offseason free agent bonanza signings of Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson has probably had the easier of the schedule having played the Yankees in the Bronx and now starting a series with the Rays in Tampa. They played games against the Royals, Twins, A's and Orioles leading to a disappointing record of 6-10. No need to fret Angel fans, I'm sure Manager Mike Scioscia will right that ship soon enough.

The Texas Rangers on the other hand have been clubbing their way to an AL best 13-4 record by playing Red Sox, Tigers, and currently the Yankees and Rays (in their next series) all in a row. They've also played the surprising Chicago White Sox, the Mariners and Twins. The Rangers currently look like they are poised to make a run at their third straight World Series appearance.

The Tampa Bay Rays If you can say they had an "easy" team so far it would probably be against the Twins. They opened against the Yankees, Tigers, Red Sox, and the Blue Jays. They are currently facing the Angels and their next series is against the Rangers. 9-7 playing against the best teams in the AL and within their own division is not a bad place to be so far.

The most disappointing team so far and the one with the toughest schedule so far among the above mentioned teams has to be the Boston Red Sox. Coming off last season's collapse and the controversy surrounding Terry Francona's dismissal as manager, the team was looking to bounce back with a productive season. So far, the start of the season has been anything but productive with the team starting 5-10 sitting in the cellar of the tough AL East. Injuries to closer Andrew Bailey and center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury have created major holes. Controversy is never far behind concerning comments made manager Bobby Valentine third baseman and fan favorite Kevin Youkilis. Games against the Tigers, Blue Jays, Rays, Tigers, Yankees and now the Twins have led to the calls of Bobby V's dismissal among many members of the Red Sox nation. If judging the amount of cheers Terry Francona received on his return to Fenway Park last Friday during the 100th Celebration of Fenway, there's no doubt on whom they would want managing the team.

The Detroit Tigers led by the 2011 AL Cy Young and MVP Justin Verlander, perennial MVP candidate Miguel Cabrera and free-agent signing Prince Fielder for a trio that make for a difficult challenge for any team. Tied for first in the AL Central with a 10-6 record, the Tigers have faced the Red Sox, Rays, White Sox, Royals, Rangers and now the Mariners and Yankees coming up this weekend. What makes the Tigers scary is that Verlander is already at mid-season form. Cabrera is Cabrera and Fielder will get going before you know it.

The New York Yankees have recovered from a opening series sweep against the Rays. The Yankees stand tied atop the AL East with a 10-6 record having faced the Rays, Orioles, Angels, Twins, Red Sox and now the Rangers and the Tigers looming on the horizon. The Bronx Bombers have done what their nickname indicates. They, along with the Rangers are atop the league in batting categories. With the bats humming along, and the starting pitching starting to come together, the Yankees will prove to be a difficult team to face as the season progresses.

To round out the field, the Chicago White Sox, Toronto Blue Jays and Baltimore Orioles have played very good ball so far keeping up with the big boys of the American League. If April is any indication, this season will be like one of the old heavyweight boxing matches of yore when punches were thrown to the last second. We might have an ending to this season to rival last season's. Time will tell.


No comments:

Post a Comment