03/25/2012 11:25 AM
MLB betting: Exploring American League offenses
We know the feeling. That initial surge of spring training games has come and gone, and though the clubs are still battling it out in Florida and Arizona, it’s just tough to get juiced up for a Tuesday afternoon exhibition game between the Orioles and Twins in Ft. Myers.
But fear not, the regular season will be here before you know it and games will count again ... finally.
In the interim, let’s continue to plot and plan for the real competition. Here are some of the American League’s offenses that will make headlines and help you cash out at the window this baseball season:
TEAM: New York Yankees
2011 RUN TOTAL: 867 (second in majors)
The Yankees couldn't get it done in the postseason, but churned out the offense during the regular season last year. You can thank Curtis Granderson for that.
The others in the lineup - Robinson Cano, Mark Teixeira, and even slow seasons from Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter - certainly added to the mix. But Granderson's totals (41 home runs, 119 RBIs, 25 steals) had to surprise even the most slanted New York fans.
Not much has changed with this lineup. Another year, another step closer to retirement for some of the aging Yankees stars. But regardless, the Bronx Bombers can do as much damage as anyone in the American League.
TEAM: Boston Red Sox
2011 RUN TOTAL: 875 (first in majors)
Adrian Gonzalez was as advertised, posting a .338 BA and 117 RBIs, and there’s no reason to believe that won’t continue. It’s clear that you can plug him in at first base every day, and let him do his thing. But again, like Granderson and the Yankees, the Red Sox were where they were last year because of pleasant surprises in the lineup.
Those are the keys to outstanding offensive seasons, and Jacoby Ellsbury in 2011 certainly fit that bill. The Red Sox have been waiting on Ellsbury and it’s not like he came out of nowhere. But, honestly, who could have predicted 32 homers, 39 steals and 105 RBIs?
He has enormous expectations now, as a result, but maybe Carl Crawford can take some of that pressure off him and balance out this lineup even more. Expect more of the same in Fenway Park this season.
TEAM: Texas Rangers
2011 RUN TOTAL: 855 (third in majors)
Even in the dark days in Texas, where pitching was non-existent, you could always count on the Rangers’ bats. And now that they have some arms and a winning culture, that offense actually ends up in results.
The numbers at the plate were strong and balanced last year. Michael Young had 106 RBIs. Josh Hamilton had a .298 BA. Adrian Beltre had 32 home runs. This team can hit and run, and that doesn't figure to change anytime soon.
And if you're looking for a catalyst for this season, try Elvis Andrus. The shortstop needs to improve on his .279 BA from last season, but he drove in 60 runs, scored 96 and stole 37 bases. Not bad.
TEAM: Kansas City Royals
2011 RUN TOTAL: 705 (sixth in majors)
The Royals don't have the pop at the plate - or in the wallet - that the Red Sox and Yankees have and they likely won't make a postseason charge in a tough division. But Kansas City does have people in the right places in the lineup and last year piecemealed a terrific season.
Melky Cabrera hit .305, Alex Gordon posted 23 home runs, and Billy Butler drove in 95, as the Royals surprised many at the plate. Cabrera is now with the Giants, but there are other players who can make up the production, namely highly-touted first baseman Eric Hosmer, who hit .293 with 19 homers and 78 RBIs last year.
TEAM: Toronto Blue Jays
2011 RUN TOTAL: 704 (seventh in majors)
It's easy to just say, “Jose Bautista does it all” - and he does. But he's not doing it by himself in Toronto. He maintained his momentum in 2011 and posted impressive totals of a .302 average, 43 homers, and 103 RBIs - tops on the team for all categories.
But Adam Lind, in just 125 games, managed 26 homers and 87 RBIs. And catcher J.P. Arencibia, a promising prospect who could anchor things behind the plate, had 23 HRs and 78 RBIs. They need some speed, though, and that might hurt the overall production. Rajai Davis had 34 steals and could do the same again, but he's slated to lose time to newcomer Colby Rasmus in centerfield.
THE NEW KID ON THE BLOCK
TEAM: Los Angeles Angels
2011 RUN TOTAL: 629 (17th in majors)
The Angels, with injuries and inconsistencies and an overall malaise hovering over them, struggled at the plate last season. No one had 100 RBIs, no one even had 90, though Mark Trumbo (87) and Torii Hunter (82) came close.
In comes Albert Pujols, and Kendrys Morales returns, and everything changes. Plus, you have to think that Vernon Wells, coming off a dismal year, will benefit from the added depth in the lineup.
Tigers 3B Cabrera could be ready for Opening Day
Detroit Tigers third baseman Miguel Cabrera could be in the lineup for Opening Day if he gets medical clearance from team doctor's next Tuesday.
Cabrera has a small fracture in the bone under his right eye and needed eight stitches after getting hit by a hard grounder in a spring training game earlier this month. He was bloodied when a ball hit by Philadelphia Phillies outfielder Hunter Pence took a bad hop and made contact near his right eye.
Tigers manager Jim Leyland said Saturday that Cabrera has no problems with his vision.
The 28-year-old is attempting a move back to third base this year to accommodate the arrival of first baseman Prince Fielder.
Cabrera batted .344 with 30 homers and 105 RBIs last season.
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