(Photo Credit: Sports Illustrated)
The American League West division seems to be one of the more competitive divisions in baseball… well if you count out the newly added Houston Astros. The Astros are probably more looked at as a punching bag rather than a Major League team. On a serious note, there have been some changes this offseason. Josh Hamilton left the Texas Ranger to join division rival Los Angeles Angels. If Texas thought they could not lose anymore power out of their line up, Mike Napoli went to the Boston Red Sox. That is a total of 67 home runs missing from their line up. Please take a look at my predictions for the American League West division below.
Rangers: The Rangers struck out big this offseason when they failed to bring back all star center field Josh Hamilton and could not strike a deal with free agent SP Zack Grienke, who went to the newly greedy Dodgers. Their expected replacement for Josh Hamilton? Craig Gentry. He is not a bad player, but not a great player either. He hit .304 in 122 games with the Rangers last season and only hit 1 home run. They look to replace Hamilton and Napolis’ power with aging Lance Berkman and 27 year old Mitch Moreland. There was set to be some competition in the infield with young SS/2B Jurickson Profar, who is going to be a great player when he gets the chance. I say “when” because he was sent down to AAA today. He should be expected to make it back to the big league club early in the season. Their rotation should be consistent with Yu Darvish and Matt Harrison. I believe with all the big losses this offseason, they will finish in 3rd place in the West.
Athletics: We all know the incredible run the Oakland Athletics made last year, and it was fantastic to see as a baseball fan. The film Moneyball was released in 2011, and the next year the Athletics were using very similar tactics to their 2002 season that was portrayed in the Brad Pitt starring blockbuster. With one of lowest pay rolls in baseball, they found a way to win the division. With players like Bartolo Colon, Coco Crisp, Jonny Gomes, Brandon Moss (AKA “Red Sox killer”), they were able to produce and get the job done. It is all about getting on base and pitching for these Oakland A’s. Josh Reddick and Yoenis Cespedes combined for 55 home runs on top of that, which certainly helps the cause. It is hard to say where the A’s will finish this year, because you never know if they will make a run like that again. I’d like to say they will make a run and finish in 2nd place in the West.
Mariners: The Mariners finished 19 games back out of first place last year with a record of 75-87. Is there anything to look forward to for the Mariners fan base? Well, besides the obvious answer of Felix Hernandez. You have Jesus Montero manning home plate, and he is a pretty damn good hitter with great potential in the future for the struggling offensive M’s. The 23 year old batted .260 last year with 15 home runs in 135 games. I expect his batting average to be closer to the .290 range this season, seeing as he just has too much talent to perform at that level again. Other offensive weapons? They acquired Kendrys Morales who is not too far removed from a 34 home run season, so keep your eyes on him to possibly break out again. The last player I am going to mention, who might not even make the team, is former all star Jason Bay. What happened to this guy? He used to average about 30 bombs a year, now he is lucky to even get 30 at bats now a days. May the force be with you Seattle, good luck. Oh yeah, good news, they should not finish in last place again. Because of the Astros joining this division, I expect them to finish second to last.
Angels: It is safe to say that these Angels have the best lineup in all of baseball. In a way it is almost like a video game, isn’t it? After signing Josh Hamilton to a five year deal this offseason, their line up is set to look like this: Mike Trout, Eric Aybar, Albert Pujols, Josh Hamilton, Mark Trumbo, Howie Kendrick, Alberto Callaspo, Chris Iannetta/Hank Conger, and Peter Bourjos. They have at least four guys in that lineup that could hit 30+ home runs, so that is a huge threat to the rest of Major League Baseball. All though their rotation is not stacked like it was last year, but it is still a pitching staff that should get them to the playoffs. They have ace Jered Weaver and stud lefty C.J Wilson, and do not forget about Tommy Hanson. I believe they will finish in 1st place this year and make a run at the world series title.
Astros: In this case, I did not save the best for last. If anything Houston, should have been moved to the minors instead of the highly competitive west division. They lost a 107 games last year, compared to their 55 wins. You want to know something scary? I believe they are going to be even worse this year. You could say that this is a blessing in the sky for the AL West. Who does not want get 18 easy wins each? This could have an impact on all the teams involved in what is going to become a Houston massacre all season long. Their biggest power threat is Carlos Peña, who loves hanging out near that mendoza line every year. Don’t get me wrong, not everything about this team is negative. They do have Jose Altuve who hit .290 last year and was the lone all star for the Astros. If he keeps hitting like that, he is bound to be traded soon, do you honestly think Astros want talented players on their team? That would just be outrageous. Unless Bud Norris and Jordan Lyles turn into a Clemens/Pettitte duo, this team is finishing in last place. Just remember Houston, Jeff Bagwell isn’t walking through that door.
Don’t agree with my predictions? Please leave comments below and tell me what you think. Thanks for reading, and have a nice day.