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The skinny: The A’s have come out of nowhere after winning 74 games last season, embarking on a magical run with a roster featuring castoffs such as Coco Crisp and Brandon Moss (.291, 21 HR). Josh Reddick has been impressive in his first full season in the majors after coming over from Boston, and Cespedes has validated the A’s decision to bid for him last winter. Former Nats prospect Tommy Milone, who was part of the Gio Gonzalez deal, has been a rotation stalwart.


Credentials: 88-74, AL Central champions

Last postseason appearance: 2011, lost to Rangers 4-2 in ALCS

Best postseason finish: World Series champions (1935, 1945, 1968, 1984)

Manager: Jim Leyland (31-28 postseason record)

Player to watch: 3B Miguel Cabrera

Pitcher to watch: RHP Justin Verlander

The skinny: Detroit could be home to a second consecutive AL MVP if Cabrera’s Triple Crown nets him the award a year after Verlander won it, but the Tigers’ focus is their first title since 1984. Prince Fielder is the key difference from last year’s team, and the first baseman has lived up to his billing. The pitching staff has some impressive arms beyond Verlander, including Max Scherzer (16-7, 231 Ks). Closer Jose Valverde hasn’t been as dominant as he was last year, but Papa Grande can still get it done.


Credentials: 93-69, Wild Card

Last postseason appearance: 1997, lost to Indians 4-2 in ALCS

Best postseason finish: World Series champions (1966, 1970, 1983)

Manager: Buck Showalter (3-6 postseason record)

Player to watch: CF Adam Jones

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