Profiles of American League teams

(Reuters) - Following are brief profiles of the 15 American League teams ahead of the 2015 Major League Baseball season: EAST Baltimore Orioles Manager: Buck Showalter 2014 record: 96-66 (Swept Detroit Tigers in three games in division series, lost to Kansas City Royals in four straight games for league championship) Three players who missed the 2014 playoffs - first baseman Chris Davis (doping suspension), third baseman Manny Machado (knee surgery) and catcher Matt Wieters (elbow surgery) - could hold the key to Baltimore's 2015 success. The defense remains solid with Gold Glovers Adam Jones (center field) and J.J. Hardy (shortstop) but Baltimore will miss slugger Nelson Cruz and fellow outfielder Nick Markakis. - - New York Yankees Manager: Joe Girardi 2014 record: 84-78 (Missed the playoffs for only the third time since 1994) The slide likely will continue for the aging Yankees, who were among the league's weakest hitting teams in 2014. Recharged efforts are needed from Mark Teixeira and outfielders Jacoby Ellsbury and Carlos Beltran. Pitchers Masahiro Tanaka and CC Sabathia must avoid more injuries and newcomer Didi Gregorius must fill the void at shortstop by Derek Jeter's retirement. Then there is the circus sure to be created by the return of Alex Rodriguez from his 162-game doping suspension. - - Toronto Blue Jays Manager: John Gibbons 2014 record: 83-79 (Team owns the longest current drought in baseball at 21 years) The arrival of slugging third baseman Josh Donaldson and catcher Russell Martin give Toronto even more power. Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion are proven long ball hitters and will be joined by a host of young players, including center fielder Dalton Pompey. Pitching, especially the bullpen, could be the soft spot. - - Tampa Bay Rays Manager: Kevin Cash 2014 record: 77-85 (Ranked 19th in the majors in hitting) Strong pitching may be the Rays' only hope. Alex Cobb, Chris Archer and Drew Smyly give Tampa Bay a solid rotation even with David Price's trade and All-Star Matt Moore not expected back until June from Tommy John surgery. Overall improvement will be hard to come by. - - Boston Red Sox Manager: John Farrell 2014 record: 71-91 (Finished last in division a year after winning World Series) Will it be another worst-to-first for the Red Sox? Boston loaded up in the off-season, adding the power of third baseman Pablo Sandoval and outfielder Hanley Ramirez. Combined with designated hitter David Ortiz that should take care of the offense. Pitching, even with newcomers Rick Porcello, Justin Masterson and Wade Miley, is a big question and closer Koji Uehara has hamstring problems. - - CENTRAL Detroit Tigers Manager: Brad Ausmus 2014 record: 90-72 (Swept by Baltimore Orioles in three games in division series of playoffs) Aging Tigers could win pennant for fifth consecutive year. Pitching needs to stay strong after Max Scherzer's departure. David Price, Justin Verlander and Anibal Sanchez will be counted on heavily. Tigers' hitting was best in majors last season. Miguel Cabrera, recovering from ankle surgery, leads the power along with designated hitter Victor Martinez. Tigers also are high on new Cuban outfielder Yoenis Cespedes. - - Kansas City Royals Manager: Ned Yost 2014 record: 89-73 (Lost to San Francisco Giants in a decisive seventh game of the World Series) Returning to the World Series will be difficult after top pitcher James Shields, designated hitter Billy Butler and outfielder Norichika Aoki departed. Kendrys Morales moves in as the DH but even with a top-ranked bullpen, pitching could be a concern. But the Royals have talent elsewhere with outfielder Alex Gordon, catcher Salvador Perez, infielder Alcides Escobar and center fielder Lorenzo Cain. - - Cleveland Indians Manager: Terry Francona 2014 record: 85-77 (Missed playoffs for sixth time in last seven season) Indians could rise to the top with repeat breakout seasons by outfielder Michael Brantley and 18-game winner Corey Kluber. Newcomer Brandon Moss adds power as either an outfielder, first baseman or designated hitter with Carlos Santana the team's top returning home run hitter. Designated hitter Nick Swisher is questionable after knee surgery. - - Chicago White Sox Manager: Robin Ventura 2014 record: 73-89 (Missed playoffs for sixth consecutive season) The White Sox loaded up, adding outfielder Melky Cabrera, designated hitter Adam LaRoche along with pitchers Jeff Samardzija, David Robertson and Zach Duke. Top pitching prospect Carlos Rodon is likely to join them at some point. Cabrera, LaRoche and Cuban Jose Abreu should take care of the offense. - - Minnesota Twins Manager: Paul Molitor 2014 record: 70-92 (Finished last in the Central division for third time in last four seasons) The Twins may be better record-wise but still not escape the cellar. Pitching received an upgrade with right-hander Ervin Santana but five time All-Star Torii Hunter will need to prove himself. At age 39 Hunter is neither the outfielder nor hitter he was when he last played in Minnesota in 2007. Prospects Miguel Sano (third base) and Bryon Buxton (outfield) could help. - - WEST Los Angeles Angels Manager: Mike Scioscia 2014 record: 98-64 (Swept by Kansas City Royals in three games in division series after posting league's best regular-season record) Questions abound for the West champions. How long before Garrett Richards returns from knee surgery to join a solid pitching staff boosted by left-hander Andrew Heaney? Will outfielder Josh Hamilton, awaiting possible MLB sanctions and coming off shoulder surgery, ever be his old self? How effective will power-hitting Albert Pujols be? Fortunately Mike Trout, perhaps the best player in baseball, is ready for another MVP season. - - Oakland Athletics Manager: Bob Melvin 2014 record: 88-74 (Lost to Kansas City Royals in wild card game) Designated hitter Billy Butler, third baseman Brett Lawrie and first baseman Ike Davis join a rebuilt Athletics team that dumped four All-Stars. Still Oakland could be back in the playoffs thanks to its pitching staff, which awaits the return of Jarrod Parker and A.J. Griffin from Tommy John surgery. - - Seattle Mariners Manager: Lloyd McClendon 2014 record: 87-75 (Late-season swoon cost Mariners shot at first postseason berth since 2001) Slugger Nelson Cruz's arrival could be the piece that puts the Mariners on top in the West for the first time since 2001. Last year's MLB home run leader joins Robinson Cano to give Seattle a powerful 1-2 punch. Third baseman Kyle Seager also can hit. Former Cy Young winner Felix Hernandez, whose earned run average was the league's lowest in 2014, leads a solid pitching staff that has an excellent bullpen. - - Houston Astros Manager: A.J. Hinch 2014 record: 70-92 (Sixth consecutive losing season) The Astros plugged big holes by adding relievers Luke Gregerson and Pat Neshek to a staff that had more blown saves that any 2014 team. Jose Altuve, an All-Star second baseman, won the league batting title last year but Houston will need a lot more offense to reach .500. Newcomer shortstop Jed Lowrie could help. - - Texas Rangers Manager: Jeff Banister 2014 record: 67-95 (Worst in American League) Top pitcher Yu Darvish is out for the year after Tommy John surgery, left-hander Matt Harrison may not be available either and it may be summer before lefty Martin Perez returns. Texas acquired three pitchers, including Ross Detwiler, to help fill the gaps. Left-hander Derek Holland, first baseman Prince Fielder and outfielder Choo Shin-soo, all starters, return from injuries. Infield is solid with third baseman Adrian Beltre and second baseman Rougned Odor but the Rangers will struggle. (Compiled by Gene Cherry; Editing by Frank Pingue)