Point/counterpoint: Which league will produce the World Series champion?

BY DI STAFF | APRIL 04, 2012 6:30 AM

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American League

It's tough to argue that this year's World Series winner will not come from the American League.

For starters, two of the National League's best players for the past several years, Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder, switched leagues this past off-season.

But more importantly, talent is where the AL rises above its counterpart.

From coast to coast, the league is stacked with six teams capable of collecting rings in the fall.

In the AL West, two-time defending league champion Texas Rangers will trot out the majors' most versatile and potent lineup, which will hurt opponents with a mix of speed, power, and small ball. Add rookie phenom pitcher Yu Darvish to the mix, and the Rangers are once again threats to win it all.

Trying to dethrone the Rangers in the West will be the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, who roll out arguably the best 1-2-3 starting pitching combo in the league: Jered Weaver, Dan Haren, and C.J. Wilson. Having Pujols in the lineup doesn't hurt, either.

The heavy favorites in the AL Central, the Detroit Tigers, are led by reigning AL MVP and Cy Young award-winner Justin Verlander. Their lineup is home to the best 3-4 combo in the majors, third baseman Miguel Cabrera and first baseman Fielder. The addition of Fielder has made Detroit a trendy pick to win it all.

The Tampa Bay Rays feature the top starting rotation in the majors — David Price, James Shields, Jeremy Hellickson, Matt Moore, and Jeff Nieman — out of the AL East.

The Boston Red Sox have fallen under the radar after last season's monumental collapse, but don't count them out just yet. They still feature a dangerous lineup with an immense amount of talent as well as a battle-tested rotation led by John Lester, Josh Beckett, and Clay Buchholz.

Finally, the New York Yankees — as usual — provide a potent lineup, and second baseman Robinson Cano is one of the best hitters in the league. Ace C.C. Sabathia is a workhorse, and their bullpen may be the best in baseball.

With this wealth of talent, the "junior circuit" will be anything but that come October.

— by Tom Clos

National League

The American League may have won the off-season. But when the final out is recorded this October, a team from the National League will have won the World Series.

Some of the Senior Circuit's best hitters defected to the AL, but the National League still claims some of baseball's best starting rotations. The Philadelphia Phillies' big three of Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, and Cole Hamels is intact, and the core of the San Francisco Giants' rotation that won the 2010 World Series is still dominant.

Teams such as the Diamondbacks, Braves, Brewers, and Cardinals have the potential for dominant rotations. Great pitching will defeat hitting in October.

An All-Star Game win will also aid the NL champ in winning the World Series. The NL champ has won five of the last six Fall Classics in which the NL champion owned home-field advantage.

The NL is also a much deeper league than the AL. In most preseason projections, the five playoff teams are drawn from a pool of six — the Red Sox, Yankees, Rays, Tigers, Angels, and Rangers.

This is far from the case in the National League, where all three divisions are considered up for grabs. Whoever gets out of the National League — my pick is the Arizona Diamondbacks — and advances to the World Series will be battle-tested from the opening day of the season and will be ready for the war that is the World Series.

The American League may have the hype entering the 2012 MLB season. But for the fifth time in seven years, the National League will boast the World Series champion.

— by Ryan Murphy

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