CHICAGO WHITE SOX: LHP Chris Sale was an All-Star for the second-consecutive season, and is the building block for the starting rotation moving forward. If there is one untouchable on the roster it's Sale. He showed this season that he can carry a 200-plus inning workload (214 1/3 innings pitched), and also made 23 quality starts for a bad team, leaving the game with the lead 13 times. Since 2012, Sale has the fourth-lowest ERA in the majors among southpaws at 3.01.
CLEVELAND: 2B Jason Kipnis was the Indians' most productive all-around player. He was first or second on the team in nine offensive categories and led the team in runs (86), hits (160), RBI (84), and stolen bases (30). For the season overall he hit .284 with 17 home runs and 84 RBI. He was also was one of the team's top clutch hitters, batting .300 with runners in scoring position and .304 with two outs and runners in scoring position. A left-handed hitter, Kipnis batted .304 vs. left-handed pitchers. He was the Indians' No.3 hitter for most of the season and was selected to the American League All-Star team for the first time in his career.
DETROIT: Miguel Cabrera's value to the Tigers is as easily illustrated by his late-season injuries as when he is a healthy Triple Crown threat. Detroit had a winning record without Cabrera in the lineup, but toward the end of September, the run production declined noticeably. Opposing pitchers have been aggressive pitching an injured Cabrera inside and have less fear attacking the other hitters. Teams can more readily pitch around Prince Fielder and Victor Martinez if Cabrera isn't hitting. When Cabrera hits for power and drives in runs, the Tigers are very difficult to beat.
KANSAS CITY: RHP James Shields lived up to his billing as 'Big Game James' and was a clubhouse leader as well as mound leader. His 13-9 record belies on how well he pitched. He worked 228 2/3 innings and struck out 196, which ranked among the American League leaders. The Royals have lacked a true ace since trading Zack Greinke after the 2010 season, but Shields filled that role.
MINNESOTA: Joe Mauer didn't play for the last month-and-half of the season and is still the team's MVP. He finished the season on the DL with a concussion, but left another season of decent numbers behind: .324/.404/.476. Behind the plate, he caught 17 base runners stealing and made only two errors. The team's record took a precipitous deep without him in the lineup, which proved exactly how valuable he is to the team.
BALTIMORE: 1B Chris Davis was voted the team MVP by the media and he'll garner some votes for the American League award, as well. Davis finished batting .286 with 53 homers and 138 RBIs. The breakout year coincided with his first full big league season at first base, where he erased any doubts with a superb year with the glove as well. His club record 53 homers fell short of the pace he set in the season's first half, but he gives the club a legitimate middle-of-the-order bat to build around.
BOSTON: Despite owning the best record in the American League, the Red Sox aren't likely to have a player finish in the top-five of the MVP voting. A compelling case could be made that DH David Ortiz is the team MVP after a seventh 30-homer/100-RBIs season. It's difficult to argue against Koji Uehara, who took over as closer in mid-June and was literally unhittable for most of the season's second half. But for day-in, day-out value, look no further than 2B Dustin Pedroia, who played in a career-high 160 games despite dealing with a torn thumb ligament and still batted .301 with a .372 on-base percentage.
NEW YORK YANKEES: Robinson Cano had another MVP-caliber season both offensively and defensively, finishing the season over .300 (.314) for the seventh time -- with 27 homers and 107 RBIs -- despite a lineup without several regulars for much of the year. But now Cano, who left agent Scott Boras to retain Jay-Z's new agency as representation, expects to be compensated as one of the game's premier stars. "Who knows what's going to happen," Cano said on Sept. 25. "Nobody said I'm leaving, nobody said that I'm staying. I haven't decided anything yet. Let's see what happens after the World Series. But don't get me wrong. I love this team."
TAMPA BAY: 3B Evan Longoria admits he has had one of his most inconsistent and frustrating seasons. Asked by one reporter, he said he would tab SS Yunel Escobar as the team MVP. But Longoria is most deserving of the honor. He still leads the team in home runs and RBIs, has played Gold Glove quality defense on a nightly basis and has grown into a leadership role on the team.
TORONTO: 1B Edwin Encarnacion led the team with 36 homers, 104 RBIs, an on-base percentage of .370 and an OPS of .904, and he did it with a left wrist injury that nagged at him at times. His season ended after 142 games, when he had surgery to clean out cartilage in the wrist. He struck out (62) fewer times than he walked (82) and batted .272. Once a liability defensively as a third baseman, he has become an acceptable first baseman. He is an aware base runner.