Opening day for the 2011 Major League Baseball regular season is less than a month away as all 30 teams are busy preparing for another run at a world title. Right now every team still has the luxury of dreaming about representing their league in this year’s World Series; however the harsh reality is there are only a handful of teams that have a legitimate shot at actually getting there.
The following is a brief preview of the top contenders in the America League and their current odds to win the AL Pennant as provided by SportsInteraction.com.
Boston Red Sox +200
Boston’s third-place finish in the AL East last season with a record of 89-73 did not sit well with this team as they watched both Tampa Bay and New York move onto the postseason. The Red Sox used this past offseason to improve a lineup that was tied for fourth in the AL in team batting average at .268 and was second in runs scored with 818. To do this, they brought in Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzales to go along with guys like Dustin Pedroia and David Ortiz, making this one of the best in the league from top to bottom.
New York Yankees +300
New York still has a wealth of talent and is always a threat to win the Pennant, but it comes into this season with more questions than answers on its pitching staff for the first time in a couple of years. On the plus side, the Yankees brought in Rafael Soriano and Pedro Feliciano to sure up their bullpen, but they failed to land Cliff Lee and lost Andy Pettitte to retirement which leaves some holes in the starting rotation. New York added Andruw Jones to add some depth to the outfield and Russell Martin to take over behind the plate for Jorge Posada, who has been named the DH this year.
Texas Rangers +800
Texas is back to defend its 2010 AL Pennant without a key component of what got it there; ace pitcher Cliff Lee, who signed with Philadelphia this offseason. Fortunately the Rangers have C.J. Wilson to step and anchor the rotation, but they could still struggle with some questionable talent as the back end of the staff. Josh Hamilton will once again be a driving force in the lineup, but they have to hope that the addition of Adrian Beltre can offset the loss of Vladimir Guerrero. All told, Texas still has the most talent in the AL West, but it better keep an eye in its rear view mirror for teams like Oakland and LA.
Chicago White Sox +900
Chicago has spent the past two seasons chasing Minnesota in the AL Central, but appears to be ready to seriously challenge the Twins for this season’s division title. One of the White Sox biggest offseason acquisitions to change its fortunes was Adam Dunn, who should immediately improve a lineup that finished 2010 ranked seventh in the AL in runs scored. Another key to Chicago’s chances this season is the health of pitcher Jake Peavy. If he can regain the form that led to 29 wins over the 2007-2008 seasons, it might be enough to push the White Sox past the Twins in 2011.