The Orioles enter the season with a streak of 13 consecutive losing seasons, the second-longest active streak behind the Pittsburgh Pirates (18). If the Orioles fail to win 81 games this year, their streak will tie for the fifth-longest streak in baseball history.
The Orioles were 32-73 before Buck Showalter took over on August 3 last year. They went 34-23 the rest of the season, the third-best win percentage in the majors from that date. They won 11 of 18 series, after winning just four of their previous 34.
The key to their season could be staying healthy. Last year, the Red Sox had 19 different players make 24 trips to the disabled list, and combined to miss more than 1,000 team games.
A major offensive move this offseason was signing Carl Crawford. He will provide much-needed offensive production as a leftfielder, a position where the Red Sox ranked among the worst in the AL. Boston's leftfielders hit .230 with a .303 OBP a year ago, both ranking second-to-last in the AL.
Derek Jeter, who turns 37 in June, is looking to bounce back from the worst season of his career. To do so, he'll have to defy history: only two shortstops aged 37 or older have qualified for the batting title and hit over .300 in a season: Honus Wagner from 1911-13, and Luke Appling from 1946-49.
While A.J. Burnett was a significant contributor to the Yankees' 2009 title, his 2010 season saw a complete meltdown. Burnett finished with the third-highest ERA among qualified starters last season at 5.26 -- and it got worse as the season went on, as he went just 1-7 after August began. But this season, he won't have to pitch to Jorge Posada at all, who will DH full-time. In 38 ⅓ innings last season, Burnett's ERA pitching to Posada was 7.28. While he's always been erratic, his strikeout rate was also his lowest since 2001.
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the Rays will be the first team in major-league history to replace at least six relievers that each pitched in at least 55 games the previous season.
Tampa Bay has led the American League in stolen bases for the past three years, but will have to contend with the departure of Carl Crawford, who leads the league in steals during that timespan.
After finishing last in the American League (28th in MLB) with 58 steals last season, the Blue Jays acquired Rajai Davis in the offseason, who finished third in baseball with 50 stolen bases in 2010.
The Blue Jays committing five years to Jose Bautista in an offseason contract seems to indicate they think most of last year's 'breakout' season was legitimate. After hitting just 59 home runs in his CAREER entering 2009, Bautista blasted 54 last season alone. In addition, his 6.9 Wins Above Replacement (WAR) represent nearly four times his career total entering 2010.
-- Katie Sharp and Justin Havens contributed to this report