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From 69-93 to 98-64. For the Boston Red Sox, the 2013 season was literally the complete opposite of the 2012 season.

It is safe to say no one in Red Sox Nation is upset about that.

The American League as a whole wasn't all that different in 2013 than it was in 2012.

Oakland won the AL West. Detroit won the AL Central.

There were a few changes though.

The Tampa Bay Rays, the team that snatched the wild card away from the collapsing Boston Red Sox on the final night of the 2011 regular season, haven't returned to the postseason since.

If the Red Sox were the best story in the American League in 2013, with the Cleveland Indians as a close second.

Former Red Sox skipper Terry Francona kept the Indians in contention all season long, and when the team made a late-season surge for the wild card, the rest of the contenders couldn't keep up.

There were some other surprises along the way, as well as some expected successes and some expected failures.

After 162 games, here's how the American League stacks up.

No.1, Boston Red Sox (97-65): First Place, AL East. Last week No. 1, Preseason No. 5

The Red Sox really did it. They went from worst-to-first, going from one of the worst teams in baseball, to baseball's best record.

Red Sox starting pitchers had an ERA of 5.19 in 2012. In 2013, it was 3.85. If you're looking to isolate one reason for the team's dramatic turn-around, that's it.

The team endured injuries, a revolving door at the closer position, a very disappointing start by third baseman Will Middlebrooks and an injury to their best starting pitcher, Clay Buchholz.

They didn't just endure, they excelled, and that's why they'll enter the postseason as one of the favorites to win it all.

No.2, Oakland A's (96-66): First Place, AL West. Last week, No. 2, Preseason No. 8

The lesson to be taken from 2013? The 2012 Oakland A's were no fluke.

Oakland narrowly won the AL West on the final day of the 2012 season, this year they ended up coasting to the title on the strength of their young pitching, more timely offense, and another subpar September by division rival Texas.

The A's won 95 games, their most since 2003. The team's young starting pitching came through. Jarrod Parker, AJ Griffin, Dan Straily, and Tommy Milone were anchored by the presence of veteran 18-game winner Bartolo Colon.

The offense was solid and the bullpen was impressive. Oakland is an all-around very good team. Some baseball observers will be shocked if the A's end up in the World Series.

Don't be one of them.

No.3, Detroit Tigers (93-69): First Place, AL Central. Last week, No.3, Preseason, No.1

Maybe the Tigers weren't quite as good as we all thought they'd be?

The 94 wins are pretty impressive if you take into account a subpar season from Justin Verlander, an off-year for Prince Fielder, a chaotic bullpen, a late season 50-game suspension for Jhonny Peralta and an injury to their all-everything offensive force Miguel Cabrera.

When the smoke finally cleared, the Tigers won their division. They've got a starting pitcher in Max Scherzer who looks poised to win the Cy Young Award, and the likely league MVP in Miguel Cabrera.

Detroit is better defensively at shortstop after acquiring Jose Iglesias from the Boston Red Sox.

Verlander's off year was still pretty good and the rest of the starting rotation. Anibal Sanchez, Rick Porcello and Doug Fister are all very good.

Can Detroit make it back to the World Series? If they do, can they win it?

No.4, Cleveland Indians (92-70): Second Place, AL Central. Last week, No. 5, Preseason No. 13

The Indians were one of, if not the biggest surprise in the entire American League.

Yeah, the Red Sox went from worst to first, but the Red Sox roster had more talent than the Indians roster did.

The Indians pitching was supposed to be bad. Instead, the team pieced together a starting rotation of Justin Masterson, Ubaldo Jimenez, Zach McAllister, Corey Kluber, and Scott Kazmir. Masterson was anchoring the rotation until an injury. For most teams that would be a problem, but not for Terry Francona's Indians.

The Indians simply inserted Danny Salazar into the rotation and he proceeded to give the team 10 solid starts down the stretch.

All season long, Cleveland got contributions from almost every player on the roster.

Veteran Jason Giambi hit walk-offs. Jason Kipnis had a career year. Michael Brantley also put together one of his best seasons.

When it was all done, the Indians finished just one game behind the Tigers.

Cleveland heads to the postseason as the league's hottest team. They've rolled off 10 in a row, and if the winning continues then the team will be remembered for a lot more than being the American League's top wild card team.

Former Red Sox manager Terry Francona will end up being current Red Sox manager John Farrell's stiffest competition for Manager of the Year.

No. 5, Texas Rangers (91-71): Second Place, AL West. Last week, No. 6, Preseason No.4

The Rangers were in first place back on Sep. 5. They were also in the process of starting off that month 4-15.

The terrible start put Texas on the outside of the AL Playoff picture last week. One week later, the Rangers have rolled off seven wins in a row. That's just enough to put themselves in a one-game playoff with the Tampa Bay Rays to determine who the league's second wild card team will be.

The Rangers have home field against Tampa Bay on Monday. Now they've got to win the game to advance to the playoffs for the fourth straight season.

No.6, Tampa Bay Rays (91-71): Second Place, AL East. Last week, No. 5, Preseason No.6

For a while, the Rays looked like they'd challenge the Red Sox for AL East supremacy. In the end. it took a one-run win on the final day of the 2013 regular season schedule to ensure they'd even get an opportunity to play in the American League playoffs.

Tampa Bay's starting pitching was very good. Their bullpen was good, but not as good as it was in recent years.

The offense benefited from the promotion of top minor league prospect Wil Myers, as well as the continued excellence of third baseman Evan Longoria.

Heading into Monday's winner-take-all showdown with the Rangers, the Rays will have to hope that 2012 AL Cy Young winner David Price can dominate. If not, then they'll be forced to count on an offense that has been on and off all year, and a closer in Fernando Rodney who has been been not nearly as good as the team had hoped.

No.7, Kansas City Royals (86-76): Third Place, AL Central. Last week, No.7, Preseason No.7

The Royals were a lot better than they've been in recent seasons, but they weren't good enough to break a postseason drought that has been weighing on the franchise since the end of the 1985 season.

Kansas City featured some of the league's best pitching. The bullpen in particular was outstanding. Led by dominant closer Greg Holland, who saved 47 games and struck-out 103 batters in only 67 innings pitched, the Royals made beating them late in games a very tough proposition.

Of course, the team had to get a lead first.

That's where the problems were.

Kansas City was 11th in the AL in runs scored and dead last in home runs with only 110 on the whole season.

The Royals have to figure out a way to retain their starting pitching while adding some offense. Unless they do, they'll be confined to the same "almost good enough" status that they finished with in 2013.

No.8, Baltimore Orioles (85-77): Third Place (tie) AL East. Last week, No. 9, Preseason No. 9

This wasn't the follow up to 2012 that the Orioles envisioned.

The team almost won the AL East behind clutch hitting, over-achieving starting pitching and 2012's league's best bullpen found that the starting pitching stopped overachieving and the bullpen wasn't as good either.

Baltimore's offense was its bright spot.

Chris Davis had a MVP-type of season. He mashed 53 home runs and led the league in RBI's with 138. Manny Machado developed into one of baseball's best young third baseman, and Adam Jones, Nick Markakis and Matt Wieters were all great as well.

It just wasn't enough.

Give Orioles GM Dan Duquette credit for trying. He acquired both Scott Feldman and Bud Norris mid-season to try to and bolster the starting rotation. It just didn't work out as well as planned.

Baltimore will be a contender in 2014 and, if they can add some legit starting pitching, they could be a favorite as well.

No.9, New York Yankees (85-77): Third Place (tie) AL East. Last week, No. 8, Preseason No. 10

The farewell tour for Mariano Rivera was lovely.

Aside from that, this won't be one of the more memorable seasons in Yankees history.

Even worse, the future isn't so bright.

The Yankees will almost certainly be healthier in 2014, but they'll still be an old team. The status of manager Joe Girardi appears to be up in the air, and the status of Alex Rodriguez is also anyone's guess.

The Yankees' list of impending free agents is long. The list of young, talented, minor leaguers due to arrive in the Bronx is much shorter.

Derek Jeter will be back, as will Ivan Nova. After that, the question marks are plentiful. The Yankees are staring at a period of major changes.

It is going to get worse before it gets better.

No.10, Los Angeles Angels (78-84): Third Place, AL West. Last week, No. 10, Preseason No. 2

Near the top of the season's final power rankings, you will find some of the season's most pleasant surprises.

Nearing the bottom, the big disappointments start to pop up.

The Los Angeles Angels are one of the big ones.

With the exception of second-year stud Mike Trout, there really wasn't much for an Angels fan to be happy about this season.

Albert Pujols followed up his lackluster first season in LA with an even worse one. He started slow, then was eventually lost to injury.

Free agent acquisition Josh Hamilton was a bust, the starting pitching was bad, and the bullpen was really bad. It all added up a forgetful season in Anaheim.

Los Angeles ended the season with an impressive 16-11 September. Of course, by then, the playoffs were all but out of the question.

The one thing that is worth mentioning is Mike Trout. Just how good can the 22-year-old outfielder be? He finished the 2013 season hitting .323 with 27 home runs, 97 RBIs, 33 stolen bases and an AL-leading 109 runs scored. Not bad, not bad at all.

No.11, Toronto Blue Jays (74-88): Fifth Place, AL East. Last week, No. 11, Preseason No. 2

Just like the team ranked above them, the Toronto Blue Jays were an enormous disappointment in 2013.

One could argue the Jays were a bigger let-down than the Angels. After all, the Jays were the team that pulled off what was supposed to be the biggest trade of last winter. Toronto dealt a package of prospects to the Miami Marlins in exchange for Jose Reyes, Josh Johnson and Mark Buehrle.

The Jays also acquired NL Cy Young winner R.A. Dickey.

It all looked good, until the team took the field,and then it looked bad. Really bad.

Bright spots for the Jays this season?

Edwin Encarnacion and Jose Bautista were both lethal when they were healthy. Adam Lind had a real nice season as well.

The bullpen got big contributions from Steve Delabar, Brett Cecil and Casey Jannsen.

The rest of the team was pretty disappointing. Playing in the competitive AL East with an aging, expensive team and a fairly thin minor league system means that there could be more lean days in 2014.

No.12, Seattle Mariners (71-91): Fourth Place, AL West. Last week, No.12, Preseason No. 11

Chaos in the pacific northwest.

Their owner recently passed away, then last week Manager Eric Wedge informed the team that he would not return to manage the squad in 2014.

As bad as things on the management side are, the actual level of talent within the organization isn't bad at all.

Justin Smoak continues to make slow, but sure improvement as a hitter. Young infielders Nick Franklin and Brad Miller both made encouraging major league debuts and two talented young starting pitchers in James Paxton and Taijuan Walker both showed lots of promise.

Mike Zunino looks like a long-term solution behind the plate. Felix Hernandez is still one of baseball's best starting pitchers.

The team still lacks a consistent big bat as well as depth in the bullpen. Seattle could easily improve next season, but they won't unless they're able to gain some form of organizational cohesion.

No. 13, Minnesota Twins (66-96): Fourth Place, AL Central. Last week, No. 14, Preseason No. 14

Minnesota just completed their third straight season with more than 95 losses. Is the worst over?

It might be.

The Twins starting pitching is still going to be very shaky next season. At some point either late in 2014 or by the start of 2015, two of major league baseball's top prospects, Miguel Sano and Byron Buxton will arrive in the majors.

Once those two players arrive, Twins fans will stop longing for the future, and start enjoying the present.

No.14, Chicago White Sox (63-99): Fifth Place, AL Central. Last week, No.14, Preseason No.12

The 2013 White Sox lost 99 games, that's the most by a White Sox team since the 1970 squad went 56-106.

It has been eight years since the White Sox won the World Series. Chicago is still too old, and their minor league system is not up to par for a successful rebuilding effort. They started the process of shedding their high-paid veterans this season.

Jake Peavy, Matt Thornton, Jesse Crain and Alex Rios were all sent packing in July and August.

It won't stop there.

Look for the White Sox to continue to wheel-and-deal this offseason. The only players who seem like safe bets to be retained are Chris Sale, Addison Reed, Jose Quintana and Avisail Garcia.

Their division rivals, the Twins, just finished their third straight 90-plus loss season. Chicago is just getting started.

No.15 Houston Astros (51-111): Fifth Place, AL West. Last week, No.15, Preseason No.15

Houston was the least suspenseful team in the AL. They were picked to be the worst, they were the worst team through the entire season and, when it was all said and done, no team in all of Major League Baseball was worse than the Astros.

The 111 losses were the worst of three straight seasons with over 100 losses.

All that losing has to have resulted in some sort of minor league development, hasn't it?

Yes, it has.

This may seem bold, but Houston will be better next season, maybe a lot better.

The Astros system is bursting with young talent.

This season saw Jarred Cosart, Brad Peacock, Brett Oberholtzer and Jonathan Villar all make impacts at the big league level.

In the not-too-distant future, Houston will welcome talented youngsters such as George Springer, Delino DeShields, Mark Appel and Carlos Correa.

The odds are good -- very good -- that this will be the last 100-plus loss season for the Astros in quite sometime. They might not compete for the playoffs in 2014, but they won't be wire-to-wire cellar dwellers either.

Source :

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