Predicting The 2013 American League West
AL West: Predicting The Toughest Division In Baseball
Last season at this time, the Texas Rangers and the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim were the only ones in the running for the AL West title. Well we couldn’t have been more off. For the past few years, everyone knew about the Rangers and Angels, but some team emerged from the ashes and turned this division into one of the toughest divisions in baseball. The unpredictable Oakland Athletics came completely out of nowhere last season, surprised the baseball world and won the AL West division.
Throughout the season last year, I, including many others, kept on wondering when the Athletics would fall back to earth. They never did. They kept on pushing and moving closer and closer to being named AL West Champions. It came down to the final game of the season. The Rangers and the Athletics played for the title of AL West champs. Loser of this game would still make the playoffs but as a wild card. The Athletics came back from a four run deficit to the two time reigning AL West champs and won the game and the division. The Athletics overcame a five game Rangers lead in the standings in nine days, and put together one of the great stories in Major League Baseball.
As you can see, the AL West was absolutely crazy tough to predict last season. That is no different this year. In 2013, it may be even tougher. On one hand, you have the reigning AL West Champs, the Athletics, and on the other hand, you have the Angels who added Josh Hamilton to go along with Albert Pujols, Mike Trout, and Jared Weaver. Can you even really count out the Rangers? No, you can’t. This season is going to be a crazy one. You may be calling me crazy that I am actually trying to predict this division, especially this early.
Last Place: The Houston Astros
The Houston Astros are new comers into the American League West. They are coming off back to back 100 loss seasons. Coming into the toughest division in baseball, and being the worst team in MLB the past two season, it isn't going to be a pretty season for the Astros. With that said, the Astros brought in a new manager in Bo Porter and he looks to have brought new life to this team.
The Astros are not going to be able to surprise anyone this season. In fact, the biggest surprise the Astros may cause is not losing 100 games in their first year in the American League. This team is young, and have some good prospects, but it will be a few years before they are actually considered contenders. However, I do believe the Astros will be able to get to that point at some time. With Porter at the helms, the Astros will play better ball than they did last season. I believe the Astros will finish with about ten more wins than last season. Call me crazy, call me optimistic, heck, call me whatever you want!
4th Place: The Seattle Mariners
Good news Seattle Mariners, you won't be coming in last this season! The Mariners are not a bad team. They just are not ready to compete. They have a good young prospect in Danny Hultzen who is looking to break camp. Oh yeah, and they have this guy named Felix Hernandez. The Mariners also added a key slugger in Michael Morse. Morse had been with the Mariners previously, but didn't break out until 2011.
The Mariners are going to be better than expected. But, they just are not ready to compete in this juggernaut of a division. Give them a year or two and we may be singing a different song. I predict the Mariners will start the season off strong, and wilt in the later months of the season. They just are not ready yet. Soon Mariners fans, your time is coming.
3rd Place: The Texas Rangers
Here is where my predictions get a little crazy. This division has to obviously be the best in baseball. Especially if there is a chance the Texas Rangers have a chance to drop to third place. In the past three years, the Rangers have made the World Series twice, and lost in the Wild Card game. The Rangers have really changed the perspective of baseball in the state of Texas. What is primarily a football state, the Rangers are trying to transform Texas into a baseball state. It won't happen, but the Rangers are rounding up fans, and making Texas citizens really excited about baseball.
I don't think the Rangers will win the division this year, but that doesn't mean they won't make the playoffs. With the AL West being the best division in baseball, and there being two wild card spots, the AL West could produce three playoff teams this season. The Rangers being one of them. Losing Josh Hamilton, Mike Napoli, Michael Young, and Mike Adams won't help the Rangers. Knowing the Rangers have to bank on a 120 game season from Lance Berkman certainly doesn't help their chances at winning the division either. But this team has some good starting pitching and can still make a run at the playoffs.
2nd Place: The Los Angeles Angels
The Los Angeles Angels, on paper, are one of the best teams in MLB. This off-season, they added Josh Hamilton. That can only make this team better. We can't forget about Albert Pujols, Jared Weaver, and Mike Trout when we mention the Angels. They are certainly stacked offensively.
The only question marks for me are CJ Wilson and if Hamilton will fade late in the season like he did last year. With how strong this division is, the Angels can't afford a slow start like last season. Had they started off strong last year, they may have been division champs, or a wild card team. The only reason I don't have this team winning the division is because you never know what you're going to get out of Josh Hamilton, he may get injured, he may lose his concentration and wilt away like he did last season in Texas. Also, their rotation is really questionable after Weaver. You never know what you will get out of Wilson, and the rest of their rotation is also a question. With all the big contracts, this team is built to make a run at it right now. I believe this team won't win the division, but they will make the playoffs. They are a really good team, and if they put it all together, they could win this division.
AL West Champions: Oakland Athletics
Without further delay, my prediction for the AL West Champions. The Oakland Athletcis. Call me crazy, but I think they can repeat as AL West Champs. It is going to be tough to do in this division, but this team can do it. I don't think they'll be able to repeat all the walk off wins from a season ago, but I'm not sure they'll need those walk offs. The Athletics may have the best rotation in the AL West. They are a really talented bunch.
Besides their pitching, Yoenis Cespedes to step up and lead them to the promise land. A lot of their success is going to fall on Cespedes' shoulders. He is a young player, but I think he can handle it. The A's made some key additions in the off-season bringing in shortstop Hiroyuki Nakajima from Japan. The A's also trade for the Astros shortstop Jed Lowrie, who when healthy played some good ball last season. Again, call me crazy, but I think the A's win the division for one reason, and one reason only. It is simple, good pitching beats good hitting. And the A's have good pitching. That is no question. It isn't going to be easy. The A's will have to play with that same fire as they did last year. Just because I predicted them to win doesn't mean they will. I wish it was that easy, but it isn't. They still have doubters to prove wrong. Many think last year was a fluke, I don't.