2013 MLB Predictions: AL West
In this segment, I take a look at the American League West.
1)—LOS ANGELES ANGELS—Yes, Los Angeles had a bit of a disappointing year last season, but it wasn’t like they totally stunk up the place. They still won 89 games.
Again, yes, Albert Pujols was also disappointing in his first year with the Angels. But again, it wasn’t like he was a complete bust. He still hit a .285, with 30 homers, and 105 RBI’s. And that was after starting poorly, hitting a .268 at the All-Star break.
I think Pujols, and the Angels, will both be better in 2013.
After making a big splash before the 2012 season with the Pujols signing, the Angels did it again this past offseason, inking outfielder Josh Hamilton.
Hamilton joins Mike Trout, Pujols, and Mark Trumbo in a power-packed line-up that will give pitchers nightmares.
The reason Los Angeles didn’t make the playoffs last year was due to pitching, or lack thereof. Dan Haren was disappointing, and Ervin Santana was brutal. This year’s rotation will indeed miss Zack Greinke, who pitched in 13 games down the stretch, and the bullpen is a question mark, but the additions of Joe Blanton, Jason Vargas, and Tommy Hanson, to go along with Jered Weaver and C.J. Wilson, should make the rotation more than good enough.
After signing Pujols and Wilson last year, and now Hamilton this year, Angels’ ownership and fans will get really restless if they don’t make the playoffs, and do something once they get there.
There’s always concern, but I think this team is just way too talented to disappoint for a second straight year.
2)—OAKLAND ATHLETICS—Not only did Oakland surprise everyone, winning the division last year, they finished with 94 wins, second most in the American League.
While you could make the argument that the A’s had kind of a perfect storm last year, I can also make what I would consider to be a legitimate argument, in that they’re just a really good all-around team. They belted 195 homers last year, ranking sixth in the league, and were second in the AL in team .ERA, at a 3.48. That’s a pretty good mix of power and pitching.
With Yoenis Cespedes, Brandon Moss, and Josh Reddick hitting in the middle of the order, Oakland will hit their share of long balls again this year, and the newly-acquired Jed Lowrie should add even more pop, provided he stays healthy.
The rotation, with Brett Anderson, Jarrod Parker, Tom Milone, and A.J. Griffin, will once again be solid.
Maybe the A’s won’t win 94 games again, and maybe they won’t win the division again. But I don’t think they’ll slip very far, either.
I’m looking at a 90-win season, and a second place finish for Oakland.
3)—TEXAS RANGERS—Texas has been one of the sport’s best franchises in recent years, going to the World Series in back-to-back years, in 2010 and 2011, and reaching the playoffs again in 2012.
The Rangers also have one of, if not the top minor league system in all of baseball, boasting infielder Jurickson Profar, maybe the top prospect in the game, as well as third baseman Mike Olt, and pitcher Matin Perez.
With hitters like Ian Kinsler, Adrian Beltre, and Nelson Cruz, Texas will score some runs. But no franchise can lose players the caliber of Josh Hamilton, Michael Young, and Mike Napoli, and not feel it, at least a little.
The Rangers are relying on aging stars like Lance Berkman and A.J. Pierzynski to drive in a lot of runs, and that’s dangerous.
Yu Darvish, Derek Holland, and Alexi Agando are nice pitchers, but none of those guys are aces, and now there’s some uncertainty about Nolan Ryan’s role in the organization.
Texas has been really good, and will be really good in the future.
As for this year, they certainly won’t be bad, but I think they take a step back, and decline by about six wins, to 87, which will only be good enough for third place in this tough division.
4)—SEATTLE MARINERS—Seattle won 75 games a season ago, and based on what they did in the offseason, I can see them playing .500 baseball this year.
The Mariners really needed to address their lack of power during the offseason, and they were successful, picking up Michael Morse and Kendrys Morales, to go along with Kyle Seager and Jesus Montero. They won’t lead the league in runs scored, but they’ll score more than they did in 2012.
The pitching rotation is headlined by Felix Hernandez, who’s as good as it gets, along with a solid bullpen.
I like this team, and its make-up. I also like their system, with catcher Mike Zunino, and pitchers Taijuan Walker, James Paxton, and Danny Hultzen waiting in the wings.
Seattle won’t win this tough division, but they may get to .500, and be fun to watch in the process.
5)—HOUSTON ASTROS—I’m a lifelong Houston fan, and trust me, it’s really difficult to be one of those right now.
The Astros finished with the worst record in baseball in 2011, going 56-106, and then were one game worse than that in 2012, going 55-107.
Things don’t look much more promising, at least not in 2013.
Jose Altuve can play for anybody, Jason Castro may have his coming out party in 2013, and Chris Carter will hit some homers, but the line-up is just not good. Altuve will likely be the only hitter to eclipse a .280 batting average, Carter will likely be the only hitter to top 20 homers, and the line-up rest will strike out, a lot.
Bud Norris and Lucas Harrell are at the top of a poor rotation, but who knows if one, or both will get traded before the end of the year?
It’s hard to be worse than the Astros have been over the last few years, but this team very well may be. Wandy Rodriguez, J.A. Happ, Brandon Lyon, and Brett Myers combined for 300 pretty decent innings last year. That will be hard to replace, as well as the combined .283 batting average by Carlos Lee and Chris Johnson over 600 at-bats.
Scary…depressing even. ..but they could be worse, especially now that they’re moving into the American League, and the tough AL West.
There is good news for Astros’ fans, as they have some quality talent that will be in Houston in the next few years. First baseman Jonathan Singleton, second baseman Delino Deshields, Jr., shortstop Carlos Correa, third baseman Rio Ruiz, outfielders George Springer and Domingo Santana, and pitchers Lance McCullers, Jr., Jarred Cosart, and Mike Foltynewicz will help form a nucleus that will turn things around, one day…just not today.
Just because it’s incredibly hard to lose more than 107 games, I’m calling for the Astros to have the same record this year, in their first season in the AL, as they did last year, in their very last season in the NL, 55-107.