MLB Division Previews: AL West

Can the A’s repeat as division champs?

Well, pitchers and catchers are reporting all across Florida and Arizona, and with Spring Training starting soon, it’s time to start our MLB Previews.  We will preview each division weekly, and dive into each team’s chance.  Usually, these kinds of predictions don’t mean crap, and mine will probably be wrong but here goes nothing.

Standings

1 Oakland Athletics

2 Texas Rangers

3 Los Angeles Angels

4 Seattle Mariners

5 Houston Astros

 

Division Awards

MVP:  Mike Trout

Cy Young:  Yu Darvish

Rookie of the Year:  Taijuan Walker

Breakout:  Mike Zunino

Comeback:  Albert Pujols

 

Oakland Athletics

 

Projected Lineup:

Coco Crisp  OF

Jed Lowrie  SS

Josh Donaldson  3b

Yoenis Cespedes  OF

Brandon Moss  1b

Josh Reddick  OF

John Jaso  DH

Alberto Callaspo  2b

Derek Norris  C

 

Rotation Candidates:

Jarrod Parker

Sonny Gray

AJ Griffin

Scott Kazmir

Dan Straily

Tommy Milone

 

The A’s win in a very similar way as the Rays, with depth throughout the lineup and pitching staff.  This offseason the A’s didn’t tinker too much with their lineup, as they finished 3rd in the American League in both home runs and runs scored.  Cespedes has very real power, and Donaldson broke out last season as a MVP candidate.  The only major addition to the bench was fielding wiz Craig Gentry.  However, that doesn’t mean Billy Beane was sitting on his ass all offseason either.  The A’s revamped their bullpen by picking up Jim Johnson, Luke Gregerson, and Eric O’Flaherty.  With a pitching staff this deep and equal production from the lineup this season, I don’t see a reason why the A’s can’t win the division and at least be a favorite for one of the wild card spots.

 

Texas Rangers

 

Projected Lineup:

Shin-Soo Choo  OF

Elvis Andrus  SS

Adrian Beltre  3b

Prince Fielder  1b

Alex Rios  OF

Mitch Moreland  DH

Giovany Soto  C

Jurickson Profar  2b

Leonys Martin  OF

 

Rotation Candidates:

Yu Darvish

Martin Perez

Matt Harrison

Alexi Ogando

Colby Lewis

Derek Holland

Tommy Hanson

 

Texas is looking to make it back to the top of the division, and made a splashy move to add left handed power to the lineup when the acquired Prince Fielder.  Fielder should slide nicely into the lineup and bounce back after last seasons “subpar” numbers.  Elvis Andrus is another player ready to bounce back, and I think he should put up better numbers than he did last season, when he hit only .242 with 0 home runs before the all-star break.  Choo is another big piece Texas added, as he should be the ideal leadoff man for this lineup, he gets on base like no other man in baseball, and has 20 homer power to boot.  My main concern for this team is the rotation, clearly Darvish is an ace, but after him there are many question marks.  Harrison, Holland, and Lewis have all struggled with injuries and the depth behind them is thin.  The one positive is Neftali Feliz returning from Tommy John surgery, he should be able to step in and be a dominant closer, and possibly work his way back into the rotation.  This team is built to win now, and should be able to compete for the division and definitely a wild card spot.

 

Los Angeles Angels

 

Projected Lineup:

Mike Trout  OF

Howie Kendrick  2b

Albert Pujols  1b

Josh Hamilton  OF

David Freese  3b

Raul Ibanez  DH

Kole Calhoun  OF

Chris Iannetta  C

Erick Aybar  SS

 

Rotation Candidates

Jered Weaver

CJ Wilson

Hector Santiago

Tyler Skaggs

Garrett Richards

 

The Angels were one of the biggest disappointments of the season last year, failing to meet their goals after spending a ton of money on free agents such as CJ Wilson, Pujols, and Hamilton.  Injuries are poor pitching was the Achilles Heel of this team, but that might be different this year.  In the offseason the Angels traded slugger Mark Trumbo in a three team trade, and received young pitchers Tyler Skaggs and Hector Santiago.  Neither of these pitchers in expected to be an ace, but both should be a big improvement in the rotation, especially over Joe Blanton, who somehow was allowed to make 28 starts despite his ERA of 6.04.  You also can’t forget it’s hard to be that bad when you have the best player on the planet, Mike Trout on your team.  The guy is a stud, and there isn’t really anything to say about him that hasn’t already been said, but if Trout keeps up his level of play and Pujols and Hamilton gives the team more, the Angels could compete for a wild card spot.

 

Seattle Mariners

 

Projected Lineup:

Dustin Ackley  OF

Kyle Seager  3b

Robinson Cano  2b

Corey Hart  DH

Logan Morrison  OF

Mike Zunino  C

Justin Smoak  1b

Michael Saunders  OF

Brad Miller  SS

 

Rotation Candidates:

Felix Hernandez

Hisashi Iwakuma

Taijuan Walker

Erasmo Ramirez

James Paxton

Brandon Maurer

Scott Baker

 

Seattle made numerous moves this offseason to bolster a very weak lineup, the biggest addition being free agent Robinson Cano.  The Mariners hope Cano is the answer they have been looking for, the guy who can come in and hit 40 bombs in that massive ball park.  It will be interesting to see how Cano reacts when his first few deep fly balls land in the right fielders glove as opposed to 10 rows deep in Yankee Stadium.  Mariners also added Logan Morrison and Corey Hart into the mix, both have had injury problems lately, but are capable of providing some spark with their bats.  More importantly for Seattle is how Zunino and Miller play, both got a taste of the MLB last season, and are looking to improve on their rookie years.  Believe it or not the question in Seattle isn’t about the lineup anymore, it’s about the rotation.  How long can Felix and Iwakuma keep up their high level of success? How will quickly will rookies Walker and Paxton come in and be productive? Why the hell is Scott Baker on a MLB team? Hopefully, over the course of a season these questions get answered.

 

Houston Astros

 

Projected Lineup:

Dexter Fowler  OF

Jose Altuve  2b

Jason Castro  C

Chris Carter  DH

George Springer  OF

Matt Dominguez  3b

Brett Wallace  1b

Robbie Grossman  OF

Jonathon Villar  SS

 

Rotation Candidates:

Scott Feldman

Jarred Cosart

Jerome Williams

Brett Olberholtzer

Lucas Harrell

Brad Peacock

 

Okay, let’s call it what it is, the Astros are going be pathetic again this season.  But I get it, I really do.  Tank now win later, and hey its working brilliantly.  Since they started this suck fest, they have drafted Carlos Correa, Lance McCullers, Rio Ruiz, Mark Appel, and Andrew Thurman.  All of these guys has big upside and should help this team sooner rather than later.  Not to mention Springer, Mike Foltynwiecz, and Jonathon Singleton who are fast tracked for the MLB as well.  We might have to wait to the Super 2 deadline passes to see some of these names in Houston, but besides them being awful and winning 65 games again this season, the future looks bright in Houston.

 

by Sean Barnet

One comment

  1. Pingback: 2014 Preview and Predictions: AL West - Lady Loves Pinstripes

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