Mostly MLB Notes: A 2016 American League Preview

In case you missed my National League preview, check it out here.

AL East

1. Boston Red Sox

2. New York Yankees (Wild Card)

3. Toronto Blue Jays (Wild Card)

4. Tampa Bay Rays

5. Baltimore Orioles

Comments/Fantasy predictions: Xander Bogaerts finishes with more fantasy value than Troy Tulowitzki, while Pablo Sandoval fails to bounce back, as he’s not a top-25 third baseman. Mookie Betts is a top-15 overall player, while David Ortiz, who hit more homers last season than he had since 2006, is a big profit while outperforming his ADP. Eduardo Rodriguez emerges as the team’s second best starter once he returns from knee surgery until Boston trades for another ace in July...Carlos Beltran, who hit .292/.364/.513 with 12 homers over 236 at bats after the All-Star break last season, proves he’s still plenty useful, while Luis Severino breaks out. Michael Pineda is a top-25 fantasy starter while Aroldis Chapman, Andrew Miller and Dellin Betances combine for 200 innings with an ERA of 2.25 and a 0.95 WHIP to go along with 300 strikeouts, 15 wins and 55 saves.

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Kevin Pillar scored 76 runs last year with a .314 OBP batting mostly in the No. 8 spot. Slated to hit leadoff in the potent Blue Jays lineup, imagine the steal he can be in fantasy leagues even with just modest improvement at the plate. He totaled 37 homers/steals last season and has an ADP of 213.4. Troy Tulowitzki isn’t a top-five fantasy shortstop...Corey Dickerson isn’t a top-55 outfielder, while Steven Souza goes 20/20. Alex Colome leads the Rays in saves, and if Drew Smyly throws 200 innings, he’ll easily be a top-20 starter...Kevin Gausman emerges as Baltimore’s best starting pitcher by a wide margin, while Pedro Alvarez threatens 40 homers. Eligible at shortstop, Manny Machado proves worthy of a top-10 pick in fantasy leagues.

AL Central

1. Cleveland Indians

2. Kansas City Royals

3. Detroit Tigers

4. Chicago White Sox

5. Minnesota Twins

Comments/Fantasy predictions: Michael Brantley gets healthy quicker than expected and stays that way, finishing as a top-15 outfielder. Carlos Carrasco, Corey Kluber and Danny Salazar all finish as top-20 fantasy starters, with Carrasco winning the AL Cy Young. Those three are the main reason I made a decent sized bet on the Indians to win the World Series at 23/1....”Base Runs” be damned, this Royals team is good at baseball, and I expect them to continue to be in 2016 (Fangraphs projects them to finish last in the division and win 77 games). Eric Hosmer has never hit 20 homers in his career, but he finished last year with a line of .297-98-18-93-7, which made him the No. 25 ranked fantasy hitter. Bigger things still are ahead for the 26-year-old. Kendrys Morales was a more valuable fantasy player than Albert Pujols last season, and he’s four years younger, yet his ADP is nearly 50 spots lower in 2016. That seems like a buying opportunity. Despite missing the first three weeks of the season, Jarrod Dyson finishes with more steals than Billy Hamilton.

Jordan Zimmermann isn’t a top-60 fantasy starter, while Miguel Cabrera wins the MVP. Justin Verlander, who posted a 2.80 ERA with a 1.00 WHIP and a 95:21 K:BB ratio over 103.0 innings after the All-Star break last season, still has plenty left in the tank and should be treated as a top-30 starter...Avisail Garcia gets one more chance with Adam LaRoche’s retirement, but he remains nothing more than a flier. The best time to buy Melky Cabrera is coming off bad years, which qualifies now. Jose Abreu still deserves to be a second round pick. If Chris Sale went to the National League, he’d probably be the No. 1 player on my board...Jose Berrios wins Rookie of the Year, while Brian Dozier doesn’t finish as a top-10 fantasy second baseman. I’m all in on the Miguel Sano hype, as he’s a top-five third baseman, finishing with more fantasy value than Todd Frazier.

AL West

1. Houston Astros

2. Texas Rangers

3. Seattle Mariners

4. Los Angeles Angels

5. Oakland A’s

Comments/Fantasy predictions: Carlos Correa, Jose Altuve and Carlos Gomez is about as good as it gets up the middle, and the Astros are the clear favorites to win the AL West. George Springer finishes as a top-15 fantasy outfielder, while everyone will be rushing to the waiver wire as soon as A.J. Reed gets called up. Reed is going to be a monster. Evan Gattis might not be able to repeat last year’s feat in which he had 11 triples and no steals, but don’t expect a ton of regression from Dallas Keuchel. He’s not likely to post a sub-2.50 ERA or win the Cy Young again, but last year was no fluke.

Rougned Odor has the upside to be a top-five fantasy second baseman, but Jurickson Profar shouldn’t be forgotten. Adrian Beltre bounces back, and when Nomar Mazara gets called up, he’ll be a must-add in all fantasy leagues...Albert Pujols had the lowest OPS in MLB history by a player who hit 40 homers last season, so he’s tough to get behind, although his prospects are more encouraging than Jered Weaver’s current fastball that’s averaging less mph than knuckleballer R.A. Dickey’s did last year...Chris Coghlan is a sleeper with a career .340 OBP looking at regular playing time in Oakland and eligible at 2B in Yahoo leagues at a dirt cheap price. Rich Hill had an amazing 30 innings to finish out last year, but he’s been equally as unimpressive so far this spring.

Wild Card: Yankees over Blue Jays

ALDS: Red Sox over Yankees, Astros over Indians

ALCS: Astros over Red Sox

World Series: Mets over Astros

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