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Breaking down the American League

In less than a month, teams will be reporting to spring training all over Major League Baseball. It is a time of great hope, with all 30 clubs hoping to make a storied run. While some have a better chance than others, it remains a perfect time to be a fan, regardless of your colors.

The first step toward being a championship team is winning your division. So let’s take a look at which American League division winners from last year are most likely to repeat. Next Wednesday, we will focus on the National League.

AL East: Baltimore OriolesChance to repeat: 30 percent

Baltimore is a solid team, but it lost important pieces in free agency. The Orioles watched as longtime right fielder Nick Markakis and slugger Nelson Cruz left for more money elsewhere. Baltimore has yet to replace those players, while the Boston Red Sox have gotten much stronger with the additions of Hanley Ramirez and Pablo Sandoval. The Toronto Blue Jays are also better, acquiring Josh Donaldson in exchange for Brett Lawrie and a few prospects. The New York Yankees are always a threat, but they have a ton of age all over the diamond. Can they stay healthy enough to win 90 games? The odds aren’t good.

AL Central: Detroit Tigers
Chance to repeat: 50 percent

Detroit lost Max Scherzer and Torii Hunter, but added Yoenis Cespedes to an already horrifying lineup. The big key for Detroit is whether Anibal Sanchez can stay healthy and Justin Verlander can find the fountain of youth. The Kansas City Royals remain in play, but the losses of Nori Aoki, Billy Butler and James Shields will really hurt. The Chicago White Sox are an up-and-coming team with a nice staff, led by Jeff Samardzija and Chris Sale. Will that be enough for the South-siders? The Cleveland Indians don’t appears strong enough to make a playoff push, but only a fool counts out Terry Francona. The starting staff is very good, with reigning Cy Young award-winner Corey Kluber and some talented youngsters.

AL West: Los Angeles Angels
Chance to repeat: 25 percent

From top to bottom, this is the best division in baseball. The Angels are still good but will be without ace Garrett Richards until June at the earliest. They also lost Howie Kendricks, and Albert Pujols, Josh Hamilton and Jered Weaver are all another year older. Meanwhile, the Texas Rangers have to be healthier than their 2014 disaster. The Seattle Mariners added Cruz and have a boatload of starting pitching, and the Oakland Athletics are a talented wild card. No team reshaped its roster more, but the club appears a strong contender once again under the watchful eye of Billy Beane. The Houston Astros won’t win the division, but they will win over 72 games.

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