There is nothing funnier than reading back over pre-season predictions when a season is completed. More often than not the columnist ends up with the proverbial egg on their face. Well, get your yokes at the ready, because here comes a look at three of the American League teams that could win the 2014 World Series. Come back in a day or two to see who might represent the National League.
Flying on invigorated wings
The LA Angels are very much ready to set soar in 2014. They might be sitting on a very impressive combination of skill, players reaching their prime, and players due a serious bounce back year. The bookmakers might be underestimating them a bit too, as they are currently a whopping 12/1 to win the World Series, a massive price when you consider the pedigree of, in particular, some of their offensive players.
Of course it all starts with their table-setter deluxe, Mike Trout, who should take the leap into super stardom in 2014. Sure, he’s a great player and already a star, but with his skill set, and another year under his belt, Trout should take a serious leap into the Superstar stratosphere. Above and beyond Trout, two other figures loom large in the Halos' clubhouse. Both Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton are (touch wood, if you are an Angels fan) healthy and very much ready to bounce back from ‘down’ years by their lofty standards. Pujols and Hamilton have gone through their own nine-circles–of-hell and should come out this season guns blazing, bats swinging. This guy’s guess is both will top 30 home-runs and bash in a lot of runs, with Trout accounting for a large proportion of those. The Angels are going to score runs, the question will be, will their pitching hold up? If it does, goodness does that 12/1 look juicy.
The World Series Champion Boston Red Sox have a fascinating season ahead. Sure, they have lost a couple of players who, you could say, were important to their success in 2013. Those gentlemen are Jacoby Ellsbury, Stephen Drew and Jarrod Saltalamacchia. If you look back at the Championship run, all three of those players really did not contribute anything offensively during same. Drew and Saltalamacchia, in particular, had absolutely horrendous offensive statistics during the playoffs. They were basically a complete bust in the post season. Ellsbury obviously will be missed, however in Xander Bogaerts and Jackie Bradley Jr the RedSox have two gifted stars in-the-making stepping into the breach. It also cannot be underestimated how deep and solid their veteran starting rotation is. Not to mention their bullpen. The RedSox have all sorts of veteran talent all over the ballpark, and a management team that knows how to get the best out of it. The AL East is going through a period of great transition (The Yankees are the case in point) and the division is there for Boston if they want it bad enough. Like the Angels, the Sox are 12/1 to win it all again in 2014. Unlike the Angels, they have been there and done it on a regular basis in the last decade.
The Detroit Tigers might very well have finished as top dogs last season except for the fact they ran into a team of destiny in Boston. Other than a couple of moments which went against them, Detroit looked like the team to beat in many ways. Once again going into the 2014 season, the Tigers are built to win. The addition of fiery infielder Ian Kinsler not only makes the Tigers stronger and longer (adding length to their already incredibly dangerous batting lineup), it also conversely weakens the Rangers. Victor Martinez, AL MVP Miguel Cabrera and Kinsler are just the highlights of a very dangerous lineup. The Tiger’s pitching is probably the deepest and most dominant in all of baseball, with Verlander and Scherzer leading from the front as a double-ace act that very few teams can live with. The only way to beat the Tigers in the playoffs is to score a couple of runs against some of the best pitching in the game, and pray you hold on. The Sox managed that last season, but would you really bet against the Tigers showing their true class and going one step further in 2014? Detroit is currently hovering around the 9/1 mark to win the Series, and look a very good option if you fancy a pre-season punt.