Imagine its the late 1800's and pitchers don't matter. They are just there to serve up the ball to the hitters, and the defense takes care of any batted balls. Writing that is just an excuse for me to only give you Net Runs Above Average to figure out which American League team has the best combination of offense and defense at their disposal. I'll take the division leaders and all of the second place teams as well, and tomorrow I'll do this for the National League as well.
First off, Boston and the Yankees are well ahead in the Net Runs Above Average lead, which makes me think that the figures for their pitching staffs are vomit-inducing bad. When I finished Chicago's part of the spreadsheet, all that would go through my head is "One of these things is not like the others!"
We all know Anaheim's problem is an overreliance on Vlad Guerrero to put up MVP numbers, or else they will not win. Facing the stiff competition of Oakland, who has a pitching staff essentially as good as Anaheim's will make it difficult for Anaheim to hold on in the long run. The Angels pitching can keep them in any game, but with less leeway offensively they are more apt to lose some of those games.
New York and Boston present an interesting struggle. They are close enough offensively/defensively that its a wash when you consider Boston's bench strength as compared to New York's. One example: Doug Mirabelli or John Flaherty? Another: John Olerud/Roberto Petagine or Russ Johnson? Boston has the pitching edge I think, especially if Schilling can successfully move back into the rotation and Papelbon and Foulke enter the bullpen. Hot rumor: The Yankees are calling the girl who loved Tom Gordon to see if she knows how to throw his curveball. Maybe they are getting a little out of hand with the free talent acquisitions.
The Indians/White Sox present an interesting study. If they had the same record I'd be inclined to say Cleveland would be the division winner, but thanks to a large division lead that is most liely insurmountable, the Pale Hose will rise victorious. A portion of that record is due to the ChiSox beating the hell out of Cleveland in the early goings, back when Cleveland was in the bottom of the league in EqA. Oh what could have been (you know, like my prediction about Cleveland taking the division being correct because I knew Minnesota wasn't strong enough to take it from them. Damn White Sox stepping in the way.) I give the White Sox credit as a very good team, but they are not the best in the league, as we can see from this chart above. I'd say Oakland and then Boston, then Cleveland, followed by the White Sox, Yankees and Angels. The Yankees are a better team now after sitting blackholes like Tony Womack (who makes Renteria look useful). The Red Sox have the distinction of having only one player in negative territory for NRAA, but that one is a doozy. .285/.363/.457 as a team for Boston; take Renteria out and the slugging goes up 9 more points to .466. A scary team, and when the pitching comes back possibly the best team in the American League. Oakland might have something to say about that title in the end. I'll work on the NL later today and post it tomorrow morning before work. I cannot wait for college to start again so that I do not have to go to work so much in the morning.