Oct 4, 2011; Detroit, MI, USA; New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez (13) at bat during game four of the 2011 ALDS against the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-US PRESSWIRE

Venom Strikes Staff Predictions: AL Division Champs and Wildcards

You know that they say about opinions…everyone’s got one.  Well there’s more to the phrase but I’ll leave it at that.

We’re no different about our opinions here at Venom Strikes.  Over 100 years of baseball knowledge–way over, probably–bundled into our staff here means we’re gonna share them.  Starting today, and over the next several weeks, I’ll be running a series of our staff predictions for the upcoming MLB season.

Today we get kicked off with our predictions for the AL Division Champs and Wildcards.  Don’t forget that King Selig decided–a little last minute–that this is the year that a second wildcard team in each league will be added to the playoff field.  However, rather than adding an additional playoff series, the two wildcards will now duke it out in a one game play-in, with the winner going on to a five game series with a division winner.

The American League has all the makings to be the Batman to the National League’s Robin.  What was already a lopsided overall talent disparity, became a lot more uneven when two of the NL’s best–Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder–deflected to the AL.  In addition, two of the top international prospects–Yu Darvish and Yoennis Cespedes–also signed with AL clubs.  However, despite the apparently unbalanced leagues the NL has held it’s own in the World Series winning two straight and four of the last six.

Our staff consists of myself (Chris Czar), J. Levi Burnfin, Thomas Lynch and Tyler Roberts.  Here’s how we see the AL unfolding this year.

AL East:

In perhaps the division most happy to see the second wildcard, the staff was split down the middle between last years two playoff contestants from the division.  Tyler and myself think the Yankees and their new additions of Hiroki Kiroda and Michael Pineda are just too talented to not repeat as division champs.  J. Levi and Thomas feel the up and coming Rays–featuring an extremely talented rotation–will dethrone the Yankees.

AL Central:

Total consensus here.  All four of us see the loaded Tigers as the team to beat.  The addition of Fielder means the Tigers have three legitimate MVP candidates and are too much for any of the other teams to compete with.

AL West:

Three of us think the Angels did enough to wrestle the division away from the Rangers.  J. Levi, Tyler and myself all feel that the additions of CJ Wilson and Pujols to a team that already had one of the best rotations in baseball means that the Rangers are going to have to battle it out for a wildcard this year.  Thomas thinks that the addition of Darvish will be enough for the Rangers to hold off the Angels.

AL Wildcards:

J. Levi has an all AL East wildcard, feeling that the Yankees and Red Sox will meet up in the one game play in.  What a classic that would be and I recommend you buy stock in Fox if that happens.  Ratings will be through the roof.  Thomas also has the Yankees getting in as a wildcard, but facing the defending AL Champ Rangers.  Tyler and I agreed on both wildcards.  The Rangers will make it to face the Cleveland Indians–who we feel are a bit underrated because of their strong rotation and bullpen.

Next up, the NL Division Champs and Wildcards.

Follow me on twitter @detsportsczar or at www.thesportsczar.com.

Follw Venom Strikes on twitter @venomstrikes.

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