2010 Divisional Previews & Predictions: AL West

The baseball season is inching closer and with that poses the question of who will win each division this year. This is going to be part one of a six part series that I will be doing. I will do my best to predict the order of all six divisions. The AL West could very well be one of the best divisions in baseball this year and it should contain the most exciting divisional race in my opinion. The Mariners, Rangers, and Athletics all improved themselves and even though the Angels took a step back, they should still be contenders in this division. Do not count them out.

1. Los Angeles Angels

Key Departures: Chone Figgins, Vladimir Guerrero, and John Lackey

Key Arrivals: Joel Piniero, Hideki Matsui, and Fernando Rodney

Before you criticize me for not picking the Mariners, listen. A year ago, the Angels had one of the best offenses in the major leagues and they were also a 97 win team. Sure, the Angels lost Lackey, Figgins, and Vlad but they gained Matsui, Piniero, and Rodney. It might not look like it, but they earned a lot of that value back. Vlad is not getting any younger and I am not sure how much value he holds at this point in his career. I would prefer to have Matsui DH and I think he can be worth about 2-3 wins there. You all know my feelings on Lackey. The past two seasons he has made only 51 starts. You need more starts out of your #1 pitcher. Piniero does a GREAT job of getting ground balls. When a pitcher does a good job of that anything is possible. He has a chance to duplicate last years numbers and he can be just as valuable as Lackey, or possibly more valuable. The loss of Chone Figgins will be the most difficult to make up for and they will have to get Erik Aybar and Howie Kendrick to step up. I also think that Scott Kazmir can return to his old form which will make the Angels rotation much better. Do the Angels have as good of a defense as Texas or Seattle? No, but they have fewer question marks in their rotation compared to Seattle and Texas. That is a big plus. I am going with a safe pick here, and picking the Angels to win the west.

2. Seattle Mariners

Key Departures: Russell Branyan, Jarrod Washburn, and Adrian Beltre

Key Arrivals: Cliff Lee, Milton Bradley, Chone Figgins

Call me crazy, but I see the Mariners finishing second in the west. I see a lot of holes in this team and at times I feel like im being somewhat generous with putting them ahead of the Rangers. I will give the Mariners credit for having the best off-season, but not enough to win the division. Where will the major run production come from? Most of the Mariners hitters hit a lot of singles and they will have to rely on playing a lot of small ball and run prevention in order to win. I don’t think they have a good enough rotation to a point where they can rely on that to carry them. Russell Branyan is gone and please don’t tell me you are counting on Milton Bradley to be your main run producer, Mariners fans. He has only had 400+ at-bats in a season two times in his 10 year career! Two times! In the past couple of years, Bradley has had numerous injuries to his legs. Can you count on him to give you the 400+ at-bats that you need and also rely on him to be your biggest run producer? That’s a lot of pressure to put on a so called “clubhouse cancer”. Before Washburn went to Detroit, he was absolutely superb with Seattle by posting an ERA of 2.64 in 20 starts. That is probably a similar ERA as to what Lee will provide. Now I know Lee is much more valuable, but you cant discount what Jarrod Washburn provided for the Mariners. The Mariners rotation still has a lot of question marks beyond Felix and Lee. Will Ian Snell step his game up? How will Rowland-Smith do in a full time starting role? Can Bedard remain healthy? Luke French should also get some starts here and there. These guys will be important and could determine just how good the Mariners are this year. I do like Seattle’s bullpen more than the Angels, but I don’t think that will be THAT much of a significance.

3. Texas Rangers

Key Departures: Marlon Byrd and Kevin Millwood

Key Arrivals: Vladimir Guerrero, Rich Harden, and Darren Oliver

The Rangers are a team that given how well their rotation can be, could end up winning this division. They have a lot of potential because they are all fairly young and have a lot of upside. They also had the 6th best UZR (Ultimate Zone Rating) of 32.5, so we know they have a pretty good defense. Similar to the Mariners, I think that the Rangers have too many question marks in their rotation to end up winning this division. I know that somewhat contradicts with my first sentence but that is basically due to me not having enough confidence to put them ahead of the Mariners or Angels. Harden and Millwood could end up being a wash if Harden can’t stay healthy and Vlad is not getting any younger and you have to wonder how much value he holds. Rich Harden will have to prove that he can stay healthy because he is clearly their ace going in. If he can’t stay healthy, their rotation could be a mess. However, as far as their offense goes, they probably have the best in the division. Adding Vlad Guerrero makes it even stronger and they have a nice core of young guys such as Chris Davis and Julio Borbon looking to make contributions. They also have the best bullpen in the division. I liked the addition of Darren Oliver and they will probably use Neftali Feliz in the pen and in the rotation. I just don’t think that is enough for me to push them ahead of the teams listed above.

4. Oakland Athletics

Key Departures: None.

Key Arrivals: Ben Sheets, Kevin Kouzmanoff, Coco Crisp, and Jake Fox

I really like the Athletics in the future because they have many young players with a lot of upside, but as for now, they will finish in the cellar of the AL West. The bright spot in Oakland could end up being Brett Anderson, who is an ace in the making. The addition of Crisp should give them a respectable outfield but they will still struggle to put runs on the board. Last year their offense posted a wOBA of .321 and I don’t think Jake Fox, Kevin Kouzmanoff, and Coco Crisp will help it all that much. Their offense just does not stack up with others in this division and I do not see how they will be able to compete. They will likely win a little less than 75 games they won last year because the AL West as a whole should be better this year. However, their bullpen is really good at the top with Brad Ziegler, Andrew Bailey, Michael Wuertz, and Joey Divine. Maybe if Billy Beane decides to open up his wallet, they could try to add a big time free agent or two next off-season.

YC’s AL West Predictions:
1. Rangers
2. Mariners
3. Angels
4. Athletics

Disco’s AL West Predictions:
1. Rangers
2. Angels
3. Mariners
4. Athletics

JeffMac’s AL West Predictions:
1. Mariners
2. Rangers
3. Angels
4. Athletics

ES42’s AL West Predictions:
1. Rangers
2. Angels
3. Mariners
4. Athletics

Dougbies AL West Predictions:
1. Mariners
2. Angels
3. Rangers
4. Athletics

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5 Comments on “2010 Divisional Previews & Predictions: AL West”

  1. Disco Says:

    I’m pulling for JMac’s predictions

  2. Owner Says:

    I kinda just wanna see the A’s get into 3rd to prove all of you wrong…However, that won’t happen.

  3. Henry Says:

    I’m sayin

    Rangers,then A’s, followed by the angels, then the Mariners……Don’t be supprised if I’m right by seasons end

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