Albert Pujols starting at first base tonight for the first time since August 22

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After serving as the designated hitter for the past 16 games, Albert Pujols is back at first base for tonight’s game against the Royals. Pujols hasn’t started at first base since he injured his right calf while running the bases on August 22, but he’s feeling much better now.

While the Angels have played things safe with their $240 million investment over the past three weeks, the calf hasn’t had a huge impact on Pujols’ production. The 32-year-old is hitting .303/.343/.515 with two homers, eight doubles, 10 RBI and an .858 OPS in 70 plate appearances since returning to the lineup on August 26. He is batting .286/.344/.531 with 30 homers, 96 RBI and an .875 OPS on the year.

With Pujols back at first base tonight, the struggling Mark Trumbo will slide into the DH spot while Vernon Wells will start in left field. The Angels open play tonight at 78-66 on the year, 7 1/2 games behind the Rangers in the American League West and 3 1/2 games back in the Wild Card race.

2017 Preview: The American League Central

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For the past few weeks we’ve been previewing the 2017 season. Here, in handy one-stop-shopping form, is our package of previews from the American League Central

Do the Indians have a weakness? Do the Tigers and Royals have one more playoff push in them or do they have to start contemplating rebuilds? The White Sox and Twins are rebuilding, but do either of them have a chance to be remotely competitive?

As we sit here in March, the answers are “not really,” “possibly,” and “not a chance.” There are no games that count this March, however, so they’re just guesses. But educated ones! Here are the links to our guesses and our education for all of the clubs of the AL Central:

Cleveland Indians
Detroit Tigers
Kansas City Royals
Chicago White Sox
Minnesota Twins

2017 Preview: The National League East

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For the past few weeks we’ve been previewing the 2017 season. Here, in handy one-stop-shopping form, is our package of previews from the National League East

The Washington Nationals crave a playoff run that doesn’t end at the division series. The Mets crave a season in which they don’t have a press conference about an injured pitcher. The Marlins are trying to put the nightmare of the end of the 2016 behind them. The Phillies and Braves are hoping to move on from the “lose tons of games” phase of their rebuilds and move on to the “hey, these kids can play!” phase.

There is a ton of star power in the NL East — Harper, Scherzer, Cespedes, Syndergaard, Stanton, Freeman — some great young talent on ever roster and, in Ichiro and Bartolo, the two oldest players in the game. Maybe the division can’t lay claim to the best team in baseball, but there will certainly be some interesting baseball in the division.

Here’s how each team breaks down:

Washington Nationals
New York Mets
Miami Marlins
Philadelphia Phillies
Atlanta Braves