Forecast: American League preview


It's Day 2 of our first ESPN MLB Forecast.

After rolling out a preview for all 15 teams in the National League as well our predictions for how each team will do this season in the Senior Circuit on Tuesday, we now turn to the American League.

For our results, we surveyed our Forecast panel on each topic.

Without further ado, let's take a close look at the league that features the defending champions.

•  Forecast: National League preview

American League East

1. Boston Red Sox

Buster Olney @Buster_ESPN: Turning the page on Boston's 2013 championship and refocusing for 2014 seems completely reflexive for the Red Sox players, given that a strength of Dustin Pedroia, Mike Napoli et al is to focus on each pitch in each at-bat in each game. They're ready for the next challenge.

David Schoenfield @dschoenfield: The Red Sox led the majors in runs scored in 2013, scoring 57 more runs than the Tigers, but you have to wonder if they will have that caliber of attack again. They must replace Jacoby Ellsbury's offense in center field, whether from Jackie Bradley Jr. or Grady Sizemore, who hasn't played a full season since 2008, and hope that 38-year-old David Ortiz can have another big season and that rookie Xander Bogaerts lives up to the hype. In the rotation, Clay Buchholz was stellar when on the mound and John Lackey had his best season in years. Can they be that effective again? Closer Koji Uehara had one of the most dominant relief seasons ever but has never had completely healthy back-to-back seasons in the majors. Still, Boston's depth in the lineup, bullpen and rotation makes it a solid favorite to return to the postseason.

2. Tampa Bay Rays

David Schoenfield: The Rays have won at least 90 games in each of the past four seasons and five out of six, although they have lost in the division series in three of the past four postseasons. Look for the Rays to battle the Tigers for the best pitching staff in the AL, even with Jeremy Hellickson starting the season on the DL. (He wasn't that good last year anyway.) David Price should be a Cy Young contender, Matt Moore went 17-4 with a 3.29 ERA in 2013 and could be even better, Alex Cobb is one of the most underrated starters in the majors, and Chris Archer could have a breakout year in his first full season. Offensively, the Rays didn't make any big changes, so they need Wil Myers to improve in his sophomore season, Evan Longoria to do Evan Longoria things and maybe center fielder Desmond Jennings to improve on his .252/.334/.414 line from last year. They will be great at run prevention, but the offense will dictate a return trip to October baseball.

Buster Olney: This might be the best Tampa Bay team we've seen in this run of contenders that the front office has put together -- a deep, talented rotation and a solid every-day lineup. To catch Boston, however, the Rays will again have to piece together a bullpen.

3. New York Yankees

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