Nov 4, 2013

Recapping the 2013 AL East and my preseason predictions

In February I predicted how I thought the AL East would pan out in 2013. Well, the season is now over, it's time to revisit my predictions and see how I did.

This is my 2013 AL East recap and prediction revisit. Now the order I will look at my predictions in is from last to first in how it really happened.

So of course, we start with the Blue Jays. Here's my prediction from February.

Toronto Blue Jays: Are there any words to accurately describe the Jays' offseason? The team finished 2012 with a 73-89 record, 4th place. They had talent, it just didn't result in success on the field. With them losing Ferrell back to Boston, they brought in John Gibbons to be their new manager. I'm not gonna touch their free agent losses and re-signings, if you want to read about it, you can here. Now about their acquisitions. Um, yeah, well. They got a crap load from Marlins in a blockbuster trade I'm sure you heard about. We even posted about it. They acquired Josh Johnson, Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle, John Buck and Emilio Bonifacio in that trade and loss relatively nothing. The trade had Miami fuming, and had Toronto and the rest of baseball going "Did that really just happen?" The Jays definitely got better, how much though? I think they'll find themselves in the playoffs this year. Little doubt in my mind about that. 2013 Prediction: 1st, 99-63.

Needless to say I completely missed the mark on this one. Not only did they Jays miss the playoff, but they weren't even close finishing in the AL East in 5th place with a record of 74-88 (.457), 23 games back of 1st. The 2013 Jays proved again that countless people with talent doesn't mean winning. You still need chemestry and it didn't appea the Jays ever meshed as a team. They no doubt improved on their 2012 finish, but only by a game. So yeah, I missed this one by a large margin, but a lot of other people did too, I don't remember how many article I read that had the Jays in the playoffs in 2013, they were favorites. Obviously, that didn't happen.

Next come the Yankees, here's my prediction from February.

New York Yankees: The Bombers had a interesting 2012, going 95-67 good enough for the AL East championship, taking it by 2 games over the O's. They made it to the ALCS before being eliminated in 4 games by the Tigers. They resigned Hiroki Kuroda, Andy Pettitte and Mariano Rivera to one year contracts each and re-signed Ichiro to a 2 year contract. To free agency they lost notable names like Nick Swisher, Rafael Soriano and Russell Martin.(Full free agents list seen here.) They signed Kevin Youkilis and Travis Hafner. These moves in mind, what does this mean for the 2013 Yankees? The Yankees are very similar to the team they've fielded for the past few years, so there won't be much difference. However, the team is getting older and with all the competition now, especially with the Blue Jays who we will talk about in a minute, I don't see the Yankees having enough left in the tank to do anything. Especially with two of their stars - Jeter and Rivera - coming off injuries and A-Rod fresh left hip surgery he's still rehabbing from. They'll manage a winning season, but that's about it. But keep in mind, they are the Yankees and surprises can be waiting just around the corner, especially with that pocketbook the Steinbrenner's have. Then again, Hal and Hank are not their dad, but I guess they don't have to be with Brian Cashman there. 2013 Prediction: 4th place, 89-73.

So that's one for me. I got the placement in the final standings right, well close enough. They finished tied for third with an 85-77 (.525) record. What defined the 2013 Yankees? Injuries. They had Teixeira for 15 games, Jeter for 17 games. Kevin Youkilis went down after 28 games in pinstripes. Thankfully the 2013 Yankees won't be remembered for their injuries it will be remembered for being the final season for both Andy Pettitte and Mariano Rivera. Regardless of division rivalries, these are two of the best at their respective positions to ever play the game. They will be missed and they are sure fire hall of famers. So while the Yankees didn't win any championships this year, it is still a season to remember in Yankees lore, and baseball lore. I guarantee they bounce back in 2014. Take it to the bank.

Also finishing in third are the Baltimore Orioles, here's what I wrote in the preseason with my prediction.

Baltimore Orioles: The O's had a magical run in 2012 that rivals the Rays' 2008 season. Going from a 69-93, 5th place finish in 2011 to a 93-69 record in 2012, good enough for 2nd in the AL East, missing the division title by 2 games and making the playoffs as the first seed wild card in the AL. They beat the Rangers in the 1-game Wild Card game round before being eliminated by the Yankees in the ALDS in 5 games. The O's lost Mark Reynolds, Jim Thome and others to free agency. (Full list can be seen here.) With no real eye popping signings, the O's flew under the radar this offseason retooling their starting rotation and messing the bullpen. The O's biggest question going in to Spring Training was the rotation with lots of options. So all this noted what does this mean for the O's in 2013? The O's will be looking to continue the success of 2012. I believe they will, but I think they'll fall off ever so slightly. They'll claim one of the two AL Wild Card spots again under the guidance of Buck Showalter. 2013 Prediction: 3rd place, 91-71.

So this is one I did nail spot on placement wise. The O's finished tied for third with the aforementioned Yankees. Obviously with the same record of 85-77 (.525) the Yankees had, good for 12 games back of 1st place. The O's didn't live up to the hype of 2012. They by no means did horrible, being in the Wild Card race until the last week of the season. They also still secured a winning season. What we did see of note from the O's in 2013 was the emergence of "Crush" Davis. In 584 ABs in 2013, Davis hit .286 with 53 HRs and 138 RBIs, leading the league in the last two. The team also took home 3 Gold Gloves (Machado 3B, Hardy SS, Jones CF). Further awards are still to be announced, who knows what else they'll win. In short, the O's didn't make the postseason, but it was a successful season for the O's. I would look for them to build on that in 2014.

In second place in 2013 were our Rays, here's what I said before spring training.

Tampa Bay Rays: Finally, our Rays. The Rays went 90-72, missing the playoffs by 3 games in the wild card and 5 in the division race. The 2012 season saw Price emerge to his full potential and win his first Cy Young Award, beating out King Felix (who pitched a perfect game against the Rays in 2012) and Justin Verlander (2011's AL Cy Young and MVP). The season was full of ups and downs from Brandon Allen's walk-off HR against the Angels to the aforementioned perfect-o thrown by King Felix. The offseason was dominated by the quest to improve the offense. First thing the Rays did is they brought back Joel Peralta. Declined the option on Luke Scott (who they later resigned) and picked up the options on Rodney and Molina. They signed Longo to a long term extension keeping him in Tampa Bay through 2022. We lost BJ Upton to Atlanta and Carlos Pena to Houston. (Full free agent list here.) They also lost Shields, Davis and Elliot Johnson to KC in a huge trade that saw the Rays acquire top prospect Wil Meyers. He'll likely see play this year but will likely start the season in AAA. They signed Kelly Johnson and James Loney. So, all things considered, what are the Rays gonna do this year? Well, regular season wise, they will succeed in seeing the playoffs again, but as a wild card. It's hard to under estimate the powerful duo of Andrew Friedman and Joe Maddon who seem to have this low-budget success thing down to a science. 2013 Prediction: 2nd Place, 97-65

Another one I had the placement of but not the record. The Rays saw the playoffs as the wild card as I predicted. However they only won 92 games. Which is still quite the accomplishment. The Rays offense was much improved in 2013 and the defense was back to what we expect of the Rays: spectacular. Finishing with the 2nd best defense in all of baseball. All four of the Rays' infielders were nominated for Gold Gloves but lost. The signings of Loney and Kelly Johnson along with the acquisitions of both Escobar and Myers played HUGE in to how the season played out for the Rays. Let's not also forget about the late-season acquisition of David DeJesus. Andrew Friedman is a freaking genius. In short, the 2013 Rays were something to be extremely proud of, even though they didn't win the ultimate prize. In 2014, I expect something similar, but we'll tackle that in more detail in 2014 right before Spring Training. I'm proud of our team.

Last, finishing in first place were, you guessed it, the Red Sox. Here's what I said before spring training.

Boston Red Sox: The BoSox had a decent off season with losses and gains. The most obvious and right up front change is that they fired manager Bobby Valentine after one season, and really, who could blame them as they went 69-73, good bad enough for the AL East cellar in 2012 and their first losing season since 1997. The Sox searched for a while before negotiating a deal with the Blue Jays that sent John Farrell back to Boston, where he was a pitching coach in 2011, to manage the Sox and sent Mike Aviles to Toronto. (The Sox will also receive a player to be named later in the deal.) The Sox also lost players after 2012, including Daisuke Matsuzaka, Cody Ross, among others (Full free agents list can be found here.) In gains the Sox got Mike Napoli, Shane Victorino, Koji Uehara and Stephen Drew who rounds out the notable signings. The Sox also retained "Big Papi" David Ortiz. So what does all this mean for the Sox in 2013? I don't think it means much, they still lost a lot in the blockbuster trade towards the end of the 2012 season that sent players like Carl Crawford, Josh Beckett and Adrian Gonzales to LA. I see the Sox being in or towards the cellar again in 2013, consider them in rebulding mode. 2013 Prediction: 5th place, 75-87.

Well I missed that one by a little bit. ...What? OKAY! I missed it by a lot. Talk about a season out of left field. The Red Sox not only won the division with a record of 97-65 (.599), 5.5 games ahead of second place, but they also won the league's pennant and they're the World Champions. Who'da thunk it?



Oh. Well...anyway, they were not only not in rebuilding mode but the bearded ones won the whole dang thing! It just goes to show how important having the right manager is. They also have Dustin Pedroia winning the Gold Glove at 2B. Big Papi was literally unstoppable in the World Series. It was a dream season for the Sox. Worst to First. Not much more needs to be said. In 2014, a repeat is possible. Keep an eye on the Sox this offseason, they might do something big.

Well there ya go, that's the recap of the 2013 season in the AL East, I was accurate with some predictions and completely missed the mark with others. How did you do in your predictions? Comment below and tell me.

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