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Friday, March 28, 2014

2014 MLB Preview: AL West

We broke the NL down division by division and team by team, but unfortuantely, we don't have time to do that for the entire AL this year. Instead, I will pick how I thing each division will end up, with a brief explanation why.

AL West

1st Place: Oakland Athletics

The A's should once again be a scrappy, tough to beat team, even after losing talented young righty Jarrod Parker for the year, which is a huge blow. They definitely need A.J. Griffin back ASAP and need to see other youngsters like Dan Strailey and Sonny Gray to take a few more steps forward in 2014. I think Scott Kazmir is going to be a great add though, and they shouldn't miss a beat in the ninth with Jim Johnson taking the reigns. Their lineup has power and speed and should have no issues scoring. If Texas can't get/stay healthy, the A's become the favorites. Right now it's really a crap-shoot between the two anyway as both enter the year neck and neck. Whichever team receives better health throughout likely wins the division. I'm picking the A's because they seem to be the most steady and have been through a few successful postseason races with this core group.

2nd Place: Los Angeles Angels (AL Wild Card)

The Angels cannot be forgotten about after a down 2013. I know their lineup is aging, but they still the best young hitter in the game and two guys who were in the top-5 not more than 3 years ago. If Josh Hamilton and Albert Pujols finally get comfortable in Anaheim, then the Angels will be right up their with the A's and Rangers. They have the talent to run away with this division and quite possibly be the class of the AL if those two perform anywhere near the level they're capable of and Trout atop the order wrecking havoc. If they don't upgrade the bullpen at some point though, it may not matter how good of offense they have though. They should have pursued Brian Wilson or Francisco Rodriguez as either, or even both, would have helped solidify the bullpen. They have some bright young arms in their pen after Weaver and Wilson and Mike Scosia is a good guy to have guiding them. I see the Royals, Angels and Yankees as the three front-runners for those two wild card spots, although the BoSox and Indians should be there in the end as well. Angels get the preseason edge because they have the games best player and are expecting drastic rebounds from Pujols and Hamilton.

3rd Place: Texas Rangers

The AL West is a tough division this year and the Rangers injury issues are forcing them to start the year a bit behind the 8-ball. If Texas gets there injured players back on time, they could all of the sudden become the clear-cut favorites, but that's a big if. They especially need Yu Darvish ready by mid-April, Matt Harrison not long after and Derek Holland by July. If that happens and Profar comes back strong in June, they become favorites to take the division.

4th Place: Seattle Mariners

I'm a fan of the Mariners young pitching staff, obviously led by King Felix, but also young Taijuan Walker, Hishashi Iwakuma and Erasmo Ramirez. They're developing a nice young staff to take advantage of that spacious yard, now they just need the lineup to start coming together. They brought in a slew of players this winter, headlined by Robinson Cano, and they're offense is certainly on the up. It wouldn't surprise me in the least of this team overachieves hangs around with Oakland and Texas. They should really try and find a way to bring back Kendrys Morales if they want to really give that lineup a chance.

5th Place: Houston Astros

The Astros the the epitome of a team in rebuild mode. They have a couple of guys in that lineup that may attract some attention come trade deadline time, but for the most part, they're mainly a AAAA team playing at the big league level. Jonathan Villar, Dexter Fowler and Chris Carter (just for his power) are a couple of guys I'll stop and watch hit, but other than that, they don't have much.
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The Giants Baseball Blog
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