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Which AL teams will advance to the playoffs and beyond?

April 02, 2012
  • New Angels slugger Albert Pujols could lead his team into the American League playoffs and beyond.
New Angels slugger Albert Pujols could lead his team into the American League… (Jose Sanchez / Associated…)

Writers from around the Tribune Co. will discuss the upcoming Major League Baseball season during the next two days. On Monday, they will look into their crystal balls and predict which American League teams will make it into the postseason.

Check back throughout the day for more responses and join the conversation with a comment of your own.

Mike DiGiovanna, Los Angeles Times

I think the top four teams in the American League are, in no particular order, the New York Yankees, Detroit Tigers, Texas Rangers and the Los Angeles Angels, and I would be stunned if all four, under the new five-team playoff format, didn't reach the postseason. The final spot will come down to the Boston Red Sox and Tampa Bay Rays.

As strong as the first four teams are, they are all vulnerable in spots that could affect how far they go in the playoffs. The Angels and Rangers should have deep and powerful offenses and superb rotations, but the back of the bullpen could be a problem for both clubs. The Tigers have great starting pitching, a top-notch bullpen and plenty of power, but their defense does not look to be air tight. The Yankees are getting old, and they're not as deep in the rotation and bullpen.

Like most Octobers, it will come down to who gets hot at the right time, but I think the axis of power in the league is shifting from the Northeast (New York-Boston) to the West, so I like the Angels and Rangers to reach the league championship series, even though one will have to win a one-game wild-card playoff game to get to the next advance to the next round.

The Angels, with the addition of Albert Pujols and the return of Kendrys Morales, should be able to go toe-to-toe with the Rangers offensively, and their rotation, with Jered Weaver, Dan Haren, C.J. Wilson and Ervin Santana, will give them the edge. So there it is: I'm picking the Angels to reach the World Series for the first time since 2002.

George Diaz, Chicago Tribune

Look east to find the power grid in the American League.

The New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox and Tampa Bay Rays will qualify for the playoffs, and beyond. All those teams have stockpiled the essentials to go deep in the playoffs, although the Rays will have to rely on some baseball basics -- pitching and defense -- to make a legitimate run for a World Series title.

The West will be a fight between the Texas Rangers and the Los Angeles Angels, wallowing in heavenly bliss after signing Albert Pujols.

Detroit, coming off of a 95-victory season, will repeat as champs in the AL Central.

In the end, look for the Yankees, with plenty of pop in their lineup and their pitching staff, to emerge as World Series champions.

[Updated at 1:03 p.m.:

Ron Fritz, Baltimore Sun

It should be an interesting season in the American League, with the Yankees supposedly upgrading their pitching and the Red Sox doing virtually nothing. The clear winners in the offseason were the Detroit Tigers and the Angels. With the Tigers and Angels signing Prince Fielder and Albert Pujols, their offenses just got a lot stronger. But the Tigers will have defensive problems and the Angels could have pitching problems, even with signing C.J. Wilson. Both are still strong enough to easily win their divisions.

Here’s how the AL will shake out: AL East: Yankees; AL Central: Tigers: AL West: Angels. Wild cards: Rays and Rangers. That leaves a very good Red Sox team out of the playoffs. Rays beat Rangers in wild-card game, but the Tigers take care of the Rays and the Angels beat the Yankees. In the AL championship, the Tigers and Angels will meet, with the Tigers having just enough pitching to reach the World Series.]

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Which AL baseball teams will advance to the playoffs and beyond?

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