AL West Division Preview: A New Rivalry, A New Champion

The regular season begins this Sunday at 5:05PM PST when the Texas Rangers play the Houston Astros in that famous AL West rivalry, which means this week is all about previews, bold predictions, and message board put downs. I will say I am not good at predicting things, so let’s get that straight. Like everybody else though, I have an opinion on the matter of how events will play out. As I preview these divisions, I’ll tell you a little of what sport betting sites see, what computer simulations see, and what I see. The teams will be previewed in the reverse order I expect them to finish. Let us preview the AL West, where everyone is welcoming in the Astros, and my predictions are pretty predictable.

5. Houston Astros

Bovada’s odds to win the division, pennant, and World Series: 50/1, 125/1, 250/1

PECOTA’s projected three highest Wins Above Replacement Player for 2013: Jose Altuve (2.2), Tyler Greene (1.8), Justin Maxwell (1.6)

Stuart sees: a franchise that got forced into the AL West when the club got sold and bought, and now there will be interleague all the time and it’s all your fault, Houston. (Is nothing sacred anymore?!?!?) I’m not sure how bad this team will be, especially in the AL West. I’m going to say all overall aspects of this roster are below average, and when that kind of thing happens, get ready for nobody showing up to Minute Maid Park, and continued talk of what will happen in the future. If you read that Danny Knobler article on the Astros and agreed with everything, I don’t know what to tell you besides that article was a load of [noun]. Hopefully last year was the worst of what we’ll see out of Houston, but it may be this year. Don’t see them beating out Seattle for fourth.

4. Seattle Mariners

Bovada’s odds to win the division, pennant, and World Series: 15/1, 50/1, 100/1

PECOTA’s projected three highest Wins Above Replacement Player for 2013: Felix Hernandez (4.6), Kendrys Morales (2.6), Michael Morse (2.3)

Stuart sees: a bunch of guys that guy play first base or hit designated-ly. Have fun Seattle Mariners pitchers, because you get Michael Morse, Jason Bay, and Raul Ibanez guarding those foul lines for you, although might they still be able to hit? Maybe, yes, but gosh this team’s overall defense is just going to be one giant sad face. Despite having a lineup that might be able to hit, an “eh” rotation, and a maybe decent bullpen, help is on the way, and it’s in the form of arms and a new battery. RHP Taijuan Walker, LHP Danny Hultzen, LHP James Paxton, RHP Brandon Maurer, and catcher Mike Zunino are all expected to be called up some time in 2013, it’s just a matter of when will that happen? Should these guys mentioned hit their ceilings, Seattle won’t have an unbeatable rotation, but they will have a strong, and deep set of guys ready to go.

3. Oakland Athletics

Bovada’s odds to win the division, pennant, and World Series: 5/1, 16/1, 33/1

PECOTA’s projected three highest Wins Above Replacement Player for 2013: Yoenis Cespedes (3.5), Hiroyuki Nakajima (2.6), Coco Crisp (2.3)

Stuart sees: a team that could sneak in again if the Rangers lose their way like they did at the end of 2012. I’m not sure they can pass the Angels, but the Athletics have a decent lineup with good depth in Chris Young, and Derek Norris, although I’m not expecting the lineup to blow you away. The rotation, led by Brett Anderson and Jarrod Parker, should be good again, but my question mark will be the bullpen and how they do this year. I’d love if the energy from the Coliseum is there on a routine basis just like it was at the end of the season, but I think we all know that their stadium and their stadium situation is just a mess. Bringing the Astros into this division definitely will not hurt Oakland’s (or Texas’, or the Angels’) chances of lowering their win-count.

2. Texas Rangers

Bovada’s odds to win the division, pennant, and World Series: 9/4, 15/2, 16/1

PECOTA’s projected three highest Wins Above Replacement Player for 2013: Yu Darvish (5.2), Alexi Ogando (3.6), Nelson Cruz (3.2)

Stuart sees: a team that did well in the offseason not to overdo it on guys like Josh Hamilton, Kyle Lohse, or keep around the statue of leadership known as Michael Young. Lance Berkman was brought in for what looks to be his swan song, while questions of “how will top prospect Jurickson Profar fit” will keep the masses talking. The lineup still looks like it can hit, and the rotation should be strong. The bullpen should get a nice addition in Joakim Soria in May, but they’ll hope he’s not too-damaged goods and will be able to make that back-end of the bullpen into a game over scenario.  Neftali Feliz also had Tommy John surgery in early August, so he will be a welcome force once he is ready to come back for the home stretch. Can this team overtake the Angels of Orange County? Yes, but they’re going to need some help from the Angels, and from their bullpen to keep their team in the games.

1. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

Bovada’s odds to win the division, pennant, and World Series: 2/3, 9/2, 17/2

PECOTA’s projected three highest Wins Above Replacement Player for 2013: Albert Pujols (6.9), Mike Trout (5.3), Jered Weaver (4.0)

Stuart sees: money money moneyyyyy being spent all over the place but who in the heck knows how they were just able to get rid of most of Vernon Wells‘ contract to the Yankees. What will doom the Angels is their starting rotation after Weaver and C.J. Wilson. You have Joe Blanton, Jason Vargas, and Tommy Hanson. Your first thoughts after that should either be 1) who’s in the minors to take one of their spots (answer: ???), or 2) how’s their bullpen (answer: decent). Lucky for the Angels they have the bats to combat this lack of back-end pitching that will allow some homers here and there. The top half of the Angels lineup will be trouble for the opposition, and if that top half stays healthy, the Angels will probably be riding those bats and their top two arms to a division title. If something goes wrong, specifically with their rotation, I could see this team missing the playoffs.

This AL West set of predictions was pretty standard, but if you got some dark horse picks/flippity-floppity going on or you want to agree, I’d love to hear it in the comments section!

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