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A Power Shift in the American League
Whether you look to the celestial bodies or reference cold hard stats; it’s hard to ignore the signs of change to the race of the top of the AL. The reign of the perennial power house is, for the time being it seems, being challenged by the underdog.
In 2012 the Yankees and Rangers appeared to be the only real contenders to challenge for the top spot in the AL at the All-Star break, and with the Yankees taking 3 of their last 4 from the Red Sox just before play stopped, it looked like another predictable second half for the AL. But Just 2 short months later, the Orioles battled back from a 7 game deficit to be within one game of tied for first place in the AL East, and Oakland made up 6 games on the Rangers and was sitting at 3 games back and in second place of the AL West.
The Yankees would manage to stop the bleeding and hold onto the top record in the AL and first place in the AL East. Then beating the Orioles in the ALDS seemed to quiet the doubts, but their offensive collapse in the post season showed them a quick exit in the ALCS and exposed the holes in the overpriced armor of the mighty giant. The Rangers on the other hand, who had seen a flurry of success of the past few seasons, could not keep the surging Athletics from taking the top spot in the AL West, and their AL Wild Card loss did nothing to stop the critics from coming down hard on the future of the team.
It could be argued that injuries and fatigue plagued all of these teams in the post season and that many of the games were won and lost by 2 or 3 swings of the bat, but the proof just keeps coming. The 2012 offseason has seen a large amount of activity and several surprising trades, and if hype is to be believed one team has made the right moves the take over the AL and it’s not the Yankees. The Toronto Blue Jays have made huge acquisitions this offseason to sky rocket themselves from out of the Wild Card question to first place favorite.
The Blue Jays benefited greatly from the Marlins fire sale of players by picking up consistent starting pitchers in Josh Johnson and Mark Buehrle. They then revamped their offense efforts by adding Melky Cabrera and Jose Reyes with all hopes that pinned on Jose Bautista coming back at full strength after his tendon injury in his left wrist. If he is able to generate the same type of power her had before the injury, it will be difficult for the starting rotations around the league to handle these, arguably first or second ballot, hall of famers in one line up.
Now with Rafael Soriano, Nick Swisher, B.J. Upton, and James Shields all jumping teams, the Red Sox have made the only notable offseason moves trying to add some speed and consistency in their lineup with Shane Victorino and Stephen Drew. It looks as though the power houses we have come to accept as the predetermined playoff picture may be struggling just to make the cut this year.