The AL West last season was arguably the best division in baseball with three teams finishing with 89 wins or better. The Oakland A’s led the division for one day last season seizing it from the Texas Rangers after beating the Rangers in game 162.
The AL West will once again be among the best divisions in baseball in 2013.
1. The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
Key Additions: Josh Hamilton
Key Losses: Dan Haren
The Angels should have one of the best offenses in baseball next season after adding Josh Hamilton this offseason. As well as having a full season of Mike Trout. The Angels do however have a weak rotation after Jered Weaver and CJ Wilson. The back-end of the bullpen is strong in Scott Downs and Ernesto Frieri but getting to them could be the achilles heel of this team. Ryan Madson is a bit of a wild card in the bullpen because he didn’t pitch last season due to injury. If they are to win it will be on the backs of the lineup when Weaver and Wilson are not on the mound.
2. Texas Rangers
Key Additions: A.J. Pierzynski
Key Losses: Josh Hamilton
The Rangers lost about a third of their offense with the losses of Hamilton, Young, and Napoli. The strength of this team, likely for the first time in the franchises history, is the rotation led by Matt Harrison, and Yu Darvish but followed by two starters who have had good success in the majors before in Alexi Ogando and Derek Holland. If this team is going to win it will be on the arms of the rotation. Pierzynski should help the rotation giving them a solid catcher who can catch 100+ games. The bullpen should get a boost midseason when Neftali Feliz, Joakim Soria and Colby Lewis should return from injuires.
3. Oakland A’s
Key Additions: Jed Lowrie
Key Losses: Brandon McCarthy
The A’s once again will depend on their pitching staff to lead them. They have great depth in the rotation and in the minors behind them. The bullpen is solid and is probably the best in the division. Look for Yoenis Cespedes and Josh Reddick to once again lead the offense for the A’s. Even with Jemile Weeks being optioned back to the minors they are solid across the field defensively.
4. Seattle Mariners
Key Additions: Kendrys Morales
Key Losses: John Jaso
The Mariners should benefit offensively from moving the fences in, in the offseason. Morales should add some stability to the middle of the lineup along with Jesus Montero. Montero who is in his second full year should be more at ease because he likely be behind the plate most of the season and not shuffled between catcher, first base and DH. This team will once again look to Felix Hernandez to lead them and go deep into games as the bullpen is not very deep behind Tom Wilhelmsen.
5. Houston Astros
Key Additions: Rick Ankiel
Key Losses: Jed Lowrie
The Astros are still in the rebuilding phase and with a new front office they are headed in the right direction. This offseason the Astros may have dumped some key players but in return they acquired some talented prospects who could make this team competitive in a few seasons. Besides who doesn’t like adding a player with a perfect game on his resume?
The Angels could have a few players who will be in the running for MVP at the end of the season and they are the only team with a legitimate option. The players on the Angels who could win will all benefit from each other being on the team. Mike Trout has the best chance as he almost won it last year as a rookie. Having Trout on base and not having Torii Hunter hitting ahead of him stealing some RBIs, Albert Pujols could have a career year, statistically. Also having a guy like Josh Hamilton hitting behind him will benefit Pujols as he will see even better pitches. Finally Hamilton has a good chance of being in the running when the season ends having Trout and Pujols being on base in front of him and he has a legitimate home run threat behind him in Mark Trumbo. The Angels are stacked offensively and they could steal votes from each other though.
Three pitchers in the AL West should all be in the discussion for the Cy Young at the end of the season.
Felix Hernandez (SEA) Already has one to his name and is perennially one of the best pitchers in baseball regardless of how his team finishes.
2012 stats: 13-9 3.06 ERA 223 SO 1.14 WHIP
Jered Weaver (LAA) Weaver was one of the most dominant pitchers in baseball last season finishing third in the AL Cy Young.
2012 stats: 20-5 2.81 ERA 142 SO 1.02 WHIP
Yu Darvish (TEX) Entering his second MLB season he has all the stuff to be an elite pitcher and the bigger the game was last season the better he pitched.
2012 stats: 16-9 3.90 ERA 221 SO 1.28 WHIP
Rookie of the Year
The A’s and Rangers both have rookies who could see some serious playing time as they do battle in the division. Dan Straily will stick in the Athletics rotation with the departure of Brandon McCarthy to Arizona. If Jurickson Profar or Mike Olt can get some playing time in the Rangers infield they have the talent to be in the Rookie of the Year race.
There are my views on how the the new A.L. West will shape up. What about you? Who do you thinks take the A.L. West crown this year? Let us know in the comments!
-Brian Boynton (@GingaBeard_Man)