You'll have to indulge me as I perform one of my favorite end-of-the-regular-season rituals: going through each team's final regular season stats.
In bouncing back from last year's 69-93 disaster, the Red Sox took a stereotypical Yankees tack. They signed a 31-year-old catcher with a hip injury to play first base. They signed a pair of 32-year-old corner outfielders to multi-year contracts. They signed a 36-year-old starting pitcher to a two-year deal. They counted on a 34-year-old starter who missed all of last season following elbow surgery and was awful the year before to make 30 starts. They gave the third base job to a prospect who played well in 2011, but demoted him after about 200 plate appearances produced a .640 OPS. They also employed a 38-year-old closer, and hoped their overweight, injury-prone DH could stay healthy for something like a full season. Their big deadline move was trading for a 32-year-old pitcher who's been healthy enough to pitch 200 innings once since winning the NL Cy Young Award in 2007. The Yankees would have been killed in the media for an off-season like that but it worked for the Red Sox. Ugh.
In Tampa Bay, Evan Longoria hit 32 home runs, while Kelly Johnson was second on the team with 16. He really needs a full season of Wil Myers in that lineup.
After the Orioles' 58th game June 6, Chris Davis was hitting .356/.436/.740, with 20 home runs and 52 RBI. In 101 games from June 7 through the end of the season, he nearly matched that home run pace with 33, but hit a more modest .245/.332/.577. He's a good hitter, but he's not 54 home runs, 138 RBI, 165 OPS+ good. Expect something much closer to his second half line than his first half line.
At this point, I think it's safe to say that Matt Wieters is never going to be the hitter that so many people thought he would. After all, he was the fifth overall pick in 2007, and absolutely demolished minor league pitching to the tune of a .343/.438/.576 line. He hit just .235/.287/.417 this year, and the average and OBP were easily career worsts.
Chris Tillman seems to have figured "it" out. After putting up an ugly 5.58 ERA in his first 180 innings from 2009-11, he has a 3.48 ERA the last two years. He also topped 30 starts and 200 innings for the first time this year.
Speaking of players who broke out with a ridiculous career-year in the home run department, Jose Bautista has totaled 55 home runs and 138 RBI the last two seasons, after compiling 54 and 124 in 2009.
If you think the Yankees' rotation has problems, you might have to get in line behind Blue Jays fans (if you ever meet one). Toronto had seven pitchers make 10 or more starts last year, and Mark Buehrle's 4.15 ERA and 98 ERA+ were the best.
Meanwhile, in Detroit, the Tigers used just six starting pitchers all year. Aside from Jose Alvarez and his six disastrous starts (1-4, 5.14 ERA), Rick Porcello was their worst of their five regular starters, each of whom made at least 29 starts. He was 13-8 with a 4.32 ERA and 97 ERA+.
Scott Kazmir had a great comeback season in Cleveland. He did not pitch in the majors last year, and made just one terrible start in 2011 (5 runs in 1.2 innings). He was healthy enough to make 28 starts in 2010, but put up an ugly 5.94 ERA in 150 innings. This year he was 10-9 with a 4.04 ERA in 29 starts, which was pretty much his best season since 2008. Good for him.
After using former first overall pick Luke Hochevar exclusively in the rotation the past five years, the Royals got 758 innings of 5.45 ERA ball (78 ERA+), with 6.2 K/9. They moved him to the bullpen in spring training, and Hochevar responded with a 1.92 ERA (215 ERA+) and 10.5 K/9 in 58 appearances and 70 innings. Wow. While everyone knows about the Pirates' rejuvenation, keep in mind that Kansas City's 86 wins were their most since 1989, and just their fourth winning season since then (and first since 2003).
A lot of people seemed to have turned on, or forgotten about, Joe Mauer since his injury-marred 2010, which saw him post career lows in average, OBP, and SLG. But he's returned to being the same great hitter he always was the last two seasons, with a quiet .324/.404/.476 line this year. The next highest individual marks for the Twins in the triple-slash categories this year were .259/.342/.426, so Mauer really needs some help. The Twins finished thirteenth in runs scored and fourteenth in runs allowed this year, so like I said, Mauer needs a lot of help.
Adam Dunn led the White Sox with his 103 OPS+, so yeah, pursuing Curtis Granderson seems like a good move for them. At least they have 24-year olds Chris Sale (3.07 ERA, 140 ERA+ in 214 innings) and former Yankee Jose Quintana (3.51 ERA, 122 ERA+ in 200 innings.
I can't think of anything interesting to say about Oakland that I haven't said before.
After a promising rookie year in 2010, Mitch Moreland has hit .253/.312/.437 the last three seasons. The Rangers probably regret choosing him over Chris Davis in 2011.
Anytime the Yankees' resolve to not give out long-term contracts is tested, they should look at the Angels. In the first year of his five-year, $125 million contract, 32-year-old Josh Hamilton hit .250/.307/.432 (108 OPS+) with below-average defense. In the second year of his 10-year, $240 million contract, 33-year-old Albert Pujols played just 99 games, and hit .258/.330/.437.
Even after going back to the minors, and the offense-friendly Pacific Coast League at that, Jesus Montero hit just .247/.317/.425 with one home run and 24 strikeouts in 19 games. Hector Noesi didn't fare much better with a 5.83 ERA at Tacoma. The other-other former Yankee farmhand, Abraham Almonte, hit .314/.403/.491 in his first taste of Triple-A, and put up a 104 OPS+ in 25 major league games.
The Astros almost pulled off a triple crown of offensive ineptitude. They finished last in SLG (.375), last in OBP (.299) and next-to-last in batting average (.240). For good measure, they were last in runs allowed.
How did the Yankees fare in those categories? They finished tenth in runs scored with 650; fourteenth in home runs with 144; thirteenth in batting average (.242); twelfth in OBP (.307); and fourteenth in SLG (.376, just .001 better than the Astros). I think that makes the answer "not much better." The pitching staff somehow finished eighth in runs allowed, but did allow the sixth most home runs.