2017 Major League Baseball Season Preview - American League

13 min



In the AL, the projected division winners are the Boston Red Sox (East), Cleveland Indians (Central), and Houston Astros (West).

Cleveland Indians (AL WEST)

  • 2017 Expected Record: 91-71
  • 2016 Record: 94-67
  • Odds to Win World Series: 7/1

After losing to the Chicago Cubs in the 2016 World Series, the Cleveland Indians are one of the favorites to win the title this season ending a 68-year drought. The last time the Indians won the World Series back in 1948, teams traveled to cities via trains and the highest-paid player (Joe DiMaggio) earned $65,000 a season. Cleveland added the most-coveted free agent on the market, Edwin Encarnacion, to a three-year deal worth $65 million. The Indians added Encarnacion to a banged-up team that nearly won the World Series playing without CF Michael Brantley and starting pitchers Carlos Carrasco and Danny Salazar. If Brantley bounces back from a bum shoulder (which limited him to only 11 games played in 2016), then the Indians will have a powerful 1-2 punch with Brantley and Encarnacion. The Indians’ Corey Kluber only won 18 games last season, but he’s poised to win 20 this year.

Boston Red Sox (AL East)

  • 2017 Expected Record: 87-75
  • 2016 Record: 93-69
  • Odds to Win World Series: 7/1

The Red Sox should have an easy time winning the AL East with the aging Toronto Blue Jays their only real threat. The Red Sox added Chris Sale to their starting rotation, which should assuage any fears that David Price’s elbow might cause him problems this season. If Price’s elbow holds up, the Red Sox boast the most dangerous 1-2-3 starting pitchers in both leagues with Sale, Price, and Rick Porcello (who won the Cy Young last season). Craig Kimbrel is the projected closer, but the rest of the bullpen has a chance to make or break the Sox in the playoffs. Big Papi finally retired, but the Red Sox will look to Mookie Betts to generate offense. Andrew Benintendi had a rough debut in left field last year trying to tame the Green Monster, but he’s still one of their rising stars. The Red Sox have one of the youngest and most exciting outfields in the American League with Jackie Bradley, Jr, Mookie Betts, and the afore mentioned Benintendi.

Houston Astros (AL West)

  • 2017 Expected Record: 93-69
  • 2016 Record: 84-78
  • Odds to Win World Series: 12/1

What a difference a couple of summers make! Only four seasons ago, the Houston Astros were the laughingstock of the league losing 111 games. Now they are projected to win the AL West well ahead of their intrastate rival, the Texas Rangers. Houston’s front office was busy in the off season adding no less than 6 new players to the starting lineup. Houston acquired catcher Brian McCann, DH/OF Carlos Beltran, OF Josh Reddick, and OF Nori Aoki. They’ll be joining homegrown talent like 3B Alex Bregman and 2B Jose Altuve. The Astros’ ace, Dallas Keuchel, had a tumultuous season in 2016 (9-12 and 4.55 ERA). Keuchel is expected to bounce back and return to peak form. Plus, the Astros have a solid bullpen with multiple closers, but it looks like Ken Giles will be anchoring the bullpen this year. Everyone expected the Astros to make a run last season, but they had an off year. Now, the Astros are in great position to win the AL West and disrupt the Cleveland Indians’ drive to return to the World Series. The table is set, it’s time for the Astros to live up to their hype.


All these teams are in the wild-card hunt, but for some reason, they’ll fall short of the mark.

Toronto Blue Jays (AL East)

  • 2017 Expected Record: 81-81
  • 2016 Record: 89-73
  • Odds to Win World Series: 30

The Red Sox are the dominant team in the AL East, but the other four teams are expected to cannibalise themselves. The Blue Jays lost Edwin Encarnacion in the free agent market and added a downgrade in Kendrys Morales. The Jays resigned Jose Bautista mainly because no one else gave him any substantial offers. The Jays still have Bautista’s big bat and all-star Josh Donaldson. The rotation is solid with Marco Estrada, and Aaron Sanchez, but they lost R.A. Dickey. Losing Encarnacion was huge. Alas, the outfield is in shambles.

Texas Rangers (AL West)

  • 2017 Expected Record: 85-77
  • 2016 Record: 95-67
  • Odds to Win World Series: 30/1

The defending AL West champ played way above their heads last season. The Rangers won more 1-run games than any other team in baseball last year at 36-11. That luck will eventually catch up and the Houston Astros will lock up the AL West this year. That leaves only a wild-card spot for the Rangers to aspire to. The Rangers’ lineup is stocked including Elvis Andrus, Adrian Beltre and Rougned Odor. Cole Hamels is the ace, but the rest of the starting rotation is questionable, however if Yu Darvish and Martin Perez can stay healthy then they have a decent shot at a wild card. The Rangers lost a couple of key players like Carlos Beltran, Prince Fielder, Ian Desmond and Mitch Moreland. But they only restocked the team with Shin-Soo Choo, Jurickson Profar and Mike Napoli. Sam Dyson settled into the closer role by the end of last summer, but the rest of the bullpen is shaky at best.

Detroit Tigers (AL Central)

  • 2017 Expected Record: 79-83
  • 2016 Record: 86-75
  • Odds to Win World Series: 30/1

The Cleveland Indians are hellbent on winning the AL Central once again and return to the World Series. That means the Tigers will be happy to pick up any scraps long the way, but that’s the best they’ll do. It will be a disappointing season for the Tigers, considering they have one of the more expensive payrolls in all of baseball. The once-superhuman Justin Verlander had a strong 2016 season after a couple of human-like seasons in 2014-15. Michael Fulmer won 2016 Rookie of the Year honours, but can he avoid the sophomore slump? The rest of the starting rotation is suspect, especially Jordan Zimmermann. Francisco Rodriguez is a strong closer, but the rest of the bullpen is a big question mark. The Tigers still have superstar Miguel Cabrera, but Justin Upton has been inconsistent and J.D. Martinez is dinged up and will start the season on the DL.


It’s a long season. You never know what can happen.

Seattle Mariners (AL West)

  • 2017 Expected Record: 86-76
  • 2016 Record: 86-76
  • Odds to Win World Series: 30/1

While the Texas Rangers and Houston Astros slug it out for supremacy in the AL West, the Seattle Mariners could sneak in the back door and clinch a wild-card spot. The M’s hope to end a 15-year postseason drought after barely missing the playoffs in 2016 when they faltered in the last week of the season. King Felix a.k.a. Felix Hernandez might finally lead them to the promised land. The M’s have a strong heart of the lineup anchored by Robinson Cano, Nelson Cruz, and Kyle Seager. General Manager Jerry Dipoto wanted to bolster the roster by adding 10 different players to the 25-man squad. Dipoto upgraded the M’s defense by acquiring SS Jean Segura, OF Jarrod Dyson and OF Mitch Haniger. The M’s also added Drew Smyly and Yovani Gallardo to their pitching rotation that also features Hisashi Iwakuma.

Cellar Dwellers

The worst teams in the AL are not as bad as the bottom feeders in the NL, but the bad teams are just as bad…if not worse. The Minnesota Twins and Chicago White Sox are expected to have sub-par seasons.

Chicago White Sox (AL Central)

  • 2017 Expected Record: 76-86
  • 2016 Record: 78-84
  • Odds to Win World Series: 400/1

The White Sox are the forgotten baseball team in Chicago after the Cubs’ magical run last season. Except another rough season for Chicago’s ‘second’ team.

Minnesota Twins (AL West)

  • 2017 Expected Record: 78-86
  • 2016 Record: 59-103
  • Odds to Win World Series: 120/1

The good news is that the Twins will not lose 100 games this season. The bad news is that they still stink.
** Projected win totals courtesy of Baseball Prospectus.