By Tyler Smith
AL West Predictions 2013
By Tyler Smith
AL West Predictions 2013
#1 Los Angeles Angels
Stadium Capacity: Angels Stadium (45,957)
Manager: Mike Scioscia
2012 Record: 89-73
Starting Pitching: Jered Weaver, the Angels ace, went 20-5 last season. He held opponents to a league best .214 BA which leads the league. C.J. Wilson was the big acquisition a year ago he ended with 13 wins and a sub-par post all star game season. Look for Vargas to emerge if he can cut down on his Major league high 35 HRs he gave up a year ago. Vargas managed to win 14 games for Seattle, his win total could grow higher in LA. Maybe a fresh start will help Tommy Hanson who has regressed every year. Control was a problem last year giving up 71 BBs in 174 innings. Joe Blanton is the likely 5th starter and showed ok control despite a 10-13 record. His downfall, gives up the long ball.
Relief Pitching: The past few seasons the Angles have blown to many saves. Ryan Madson will get the call as the Angels closer. Madson underwent Tommy John surgery last season. Right hander Ferieri put up 98 Ks last season and is the likely go to setup man. Jepsen, Burnett, and Downs will get their appearances too.
Infield: Howie Kendrick is emerging as the top second baseman in the AL. He hit 32 doubles and 67 RBIs, but struck out to much. If he works on his patience at the plate watch out. With Morales gone to the Mariners the likely DH player will be Trumbo. Trumbo led the team with 32 HRs a year ago. Shortstop Erick Aybar hit .290 last year and had 20 steals. Alberto Callaspo needs to improve his average and drive in more runs. Puljos started off last year a bit slow. Odds of that happening again are slim. Puljos will come back with something to prove, look for a big year out of him.
Outfield: Left field features the games best young player, Mike Trout. Right field features the 2010 MVP, Josh Hamilton. Hamilton is coming off a career high 43 HRs. In this lineup his numbers should be even better, scary. Mike Trout had a special year for a rookie and might of won the MVP had there not been a triple crown winner. Trout is an all-around great player he can beat you on the bases, with contact, or power. His .963 OPS ranks 3rd in the Majors. Peter Bourjos is the center fielder, but keep an eye on Vernon Wells who struggled last season to say the least. Wells hasn't worked out in LA and has yet to hit over .230.
Outlook: The pitching staff could either be really great or awful. Blanton and Vargas give up HRs. What starter emerges as the true number two? Callaspo has room to improve after last season and he should cash be able to drive in more runs with this lineup. Doesn't it get much better then Trout, Hamilton, and Pujols. Those are three legit MVP candidates.
This team looks like it has world series potential. The Angels have missed the playoffs the past three years. No way they miss it this year, right?
#2 Texas Rangers
Stadium Capacity: Rangers Ballpark in Arlington (48,194)
Manager: Ron Washington
2012 Record: 93-69
Starting Pitching: Yu Darvish emerged on the scene last year and lived up to expectations in year one. Hes now the Rangers ace, which adds pressure in year two to perform. Injuries will keep starter Colby Lewis out til the summer and Neftali Feliz will be out til at least the all star break. Derek Holland is the likely two, his ERA was a bit high at 4.67 last season. Look for him to emerge this season and improve on his 12 wins last season. Ogando has been back and forth as a reliever and starter, this year hes a starter. The 4th and 5th spot will be up for grabs in spring training.
Relief Pitching: Joe Nathan had a solid season with 37 saves. Joakim Soria is added to the roster and will be avaliable in may as he underwent Tommy John. Jason Frasor and Robbie Ross are likey late innings guys with good stuff. A few other young pitchers will get a chance Josh Lindblom, Tanner Scheppers, and Michael Kirkman.
Infield: The catcher spot will be held down by a couple AL Central vetrans. A.J. Pierzynski was brought in this summer and is likely to get most of the starts. Geovany Soto will be a serviceable backup, but don't expect to much.
Beltre's stop in Texas has been great. Hes hit over 30 HRs each season and over 100 RBIs and won another Gold Glove. Leadoff hitter, Ian Kinsler, had 105 runs last season ranking him sixth in the league. Elvis Andrus is one of the best fielders at SS and is only getting better at the plate. Hard to believe Lance Berkman is going to give it another run after an injury ridden season. First base is up for grabs. Likely to go to Mitch Moreland. Keep an eye on young talents Mike Olt and Jurickson Profar.
Outfield: Josh Hamilton is now with LA. Who fills his spot? Likely several players. Making up Hamilton's production will be very tough. LF David Murphy could be slotted in his spot in the order. His career high in HRs, just 17. Nelson Cruz can't afford a down year, he needs a monster year for the Rangers to contend.
Outlook: The Rangers will not be the same without Hamilton, but they should be fine with Cruz, Kinsler, and Beltre. The pitching staff will have to hold up until others arrive in the summer. An injury early in the season could be costly. Yu Darvish and Holland could carry this team.
#3 Oakland Athletics
Stadium Capacity: Oakland Coliseum (35,067)
Manager: Bob Melvin
2012 Record: 94-68
Starting Pitching: Last years rookie invasion took the A's to new heights, AL West champions. Among all those rookies was 39 year old Bartolo Colon. Colon is back for one more year. It's hard to believe that he can repeat last season, but the A's are positive. Brett Anderson may be the best of the young bunch of pitchers, but he has problems staying healthy. He only pitched six games last season and pitched well over those six games. Jarrod Parker was great last season. Posting 13 wins with 140 Ks. Tommy Milone was equally as good. Milone pitched 190 innings as a rookie and showed great control with only 36 walks. A.J. Griffin seems like the likely 5th starter, but spring training should tell us more.
Relief Pitching: As good as the starting pitching was last season, the bullpen was even better. Grant Balfour is back at closer. Balfour lost his job, but got it back in August. Ryan Cook is back as the setup guy. Cook likely would of been at the top in holds had he not been moved to closer. Doolittle is the go to lefty in the pen.
Infield: The A's are going with a new look infield. Last year Scott Sizemore missed all of last season. He's slated to start at second unless Jemile Weeks has a great spring. Hiroyuki Nakajima was brought in as a free agent from Japan. Nakajima is known for his great glove work and is average at the plate. Josh Donaldson was plugged in to third base after the Sizemore injury and its stuck. Donaldson might not be the answer long term, but he should be serviceable this year. Derek Norris is behind the plate. His numbers were underwhelming last season, batting just .201. Brandon Moss (1B) could be a name everyone will know after this season. In 265 at bats he hit 21 HR's, 52 RBI's, and had a .291 average.
Outfield: The Athletics went out and traded for Chris Young in the offseason to add depth to an already deep outfield. Josh Reddick took his opportunity and ran with it last season. He led the team in HR's (32) and RBI's (85.) Yoenis Cespedes is the teams best hitter. He can hit for average and power. Coco Crisp led the team in steals and is a solid defender. The A's may have the best defensive outfield in baseball.
Outlook: The young pitching staff was great from top to bottom. Reddick and Cespedes made huge impacts at the plate. Can this youth filled team make another run at the AL West title? It will be hard to duplicate last year's performance with such a young team, but don't put it past them.
#4 Seattle Mariners
Stadium Capacity: Safeco Field (47,860)
Manager: Eric Wedge
2012 Record: 75-87
Starting Pitching: The King got his pay day. Felix Hernandez was a work horse last season, throwing 232 innings. He had a 3.06 ERA with only 13 wins. The man is worth every penny, as Seattle wont't have an opportunity to have the best pitcher in baseball to often. Hisashi Iwakuma had a great rookie campaign recording a 9-5 record with a 3.16 ERA. If he doesn't take a step back this season, the M's could be have a nice 1-2 punch. Erasmo Rameriz should be in the rotation unless things go sour in the spring. Rameriz has a nice fastball that he compliments with some nice off-speed stuff. The Mariners have some very talented starting pitchers in the minors. In the spring we will find out who rounds out the rotation.
Relief Pitching: Tom Wilhelmsen took over the closing role last season and made it his. The hard throwing closer also has a deadly curveball. Carter Capps and Stephen Pryor are both hard throwing setup men. They combined last season for 48 innings and 55 K's. The Mariners may have one of the hardest throwing pens in the AL.
Infield: Morales was a big off-season acquisition for a team that struggled to score runs. Morales has the potential to hit 30 HR's and 100 RBI's. Another off-season move the M's made is bringing in the fences. Third baseman Kyle Seager was bright spot for Seattle. Seager led the team in HR's (20) and RBI's (86.) Dustin Ackley will get another full year at second base despite only posting a .296 OBP. Ackley will need to prove he's the future at second or the Mariners will have to look elsewhere. Shortstop Brendan Ryan may not bring much to the plate, but he's an elite defender. Justin Smoak didn't live up to expectations last season and should split time at first. Jesus Montero had a sub-par season at the plate. If Seattle wants to start producing more runs they will need a solid season out of him.
Outfield: Jason Bay makes his way to Seattle. Bay hasn't had a solid season since 2009. Whatever the Mariners get out him will be a bonus. Raul Ibanez will split time with Bay and is now 40. Ibanez is coming off one of the worst seasons of his career, don't set your expectations to high. The Mariners are hoping for a healthy Franklin Gutierrez. Gutierrez brings nice speed to the lineup and is a great in centerfield. Saunders is similar to Gutierrez, has nice speed and can show some pop in his bat.
Outlook: The Mariners are headed in the right direction. Signing Hernandez means the Mariners are willing to make moves to contend. Bringing in Morales should help bring in more runs. Bringing in the fences should help. The Astros coming in should keep the Mariners out of last, but how high can they go?
#5 Houston Astros
Stadium Capacity: Minute Maid Stadium (40,981)
Manager: Bo Porter
2012 Record: 55-107
Starting Pitching: Wandy Rodriguez and J.A. Happ are gone. Whats left in the Astros starting rotation? Bud Norris will be the teams "ace" to start the season. Norris was impressive at home, but had major road woes. Lucas Harrell was a bright spot for last years staff. He went 11-11 and posted a 3.76 ERA. The rest of the rotation is up for grabs. Philip Humber who pitched a perfect game for the White Sox last season. Don't read to much into that, that's about all we can say for his 2012 campaign. Jordan Lyles, Alex White, and John Ely. Spring training will tell us more about this staff.
Relief Pitching: More trouble lurks in the pen. No proven closer, no proven setup men. Jose Veras will get the call at closer. Hes been a solid setup man, but how does the 32 year old make the transition to closer. Look for Josh Fields to emerge in the bullpen this season. Fields posted some nice numbers in the minors last season.
Infield: Behind the plate is Jason Castro. He doesn't bring much with his bat and runners don't have a problem stealing on him. The infield is promising. The shortest player in baseball, 5'5 2B Jose Altuve, led the team in steals, runs, hits, doubles, and triples. At 22 he's a key building block for the Astros. Brett Wallace will need to seize the opportunity this year. He's played 232 games and only has 16 HR's. Carlos Pena was brought in to be the teams DH. Pena hits for power and power only. He's coming off one of the worst seasons of his career. His .197 batting average ranked last in baseball last season. Wallace may have company at first with Jed Lowrie being traded to the A's for two minor league players and 1B Chris Carter who knocked 16 HR's last year. Matt Dominguez was acquired last year in the Carlos Lee trade and played well for the Astros when he arrived. SS will be up for grabs in spring training. A prospect to keep an eye on is Delino DeShields. With Lowrie being traded things could open up.
Outfield: J.D. Martinez and Justin Maxwell are sure things in the outfield. Maxwell led the team in HR's with 18 in 315 at bats, but only hit .229. Martinez was the team leader in RBI's. He suffered an injury in September and should be ready to go by opening day. The third outfielder will be determined in the spring.
Outlook: The Astros have a combined 213 losses the past two seasons. Do you see anything changing this season? The whole pitching staff is a question mark. Off-season moves were mediocre. The bats are below average. I don't see much changing.