Monday, April 2, 2012

MLB Preview (Part 4): AL West

Having previewed each National League division, we turn our sights to the junior but at this point vastly more talented and monied circuit. Check below for our AL West predictions. SPOILER ALERT: we disagree on some things.

All over/unders are from Check it:
Seattle Mariners  72 (67 wins in 2011)
Sean: Under. Ichiro going for power is awesome, but the only part of the Mariners.

Jon: Over, but barely. I also don’t give a shit.

Steve: Under. Dustin Ackley will be their best hitter this year. Again: under.

Los Angeles Angels  92.5 (86 wins)
Sean: Over. Their pitching didn’t get enough respect last year and getting anything from Morales makes this a 95 win team.

Jon: Over. They have three very, very good pitchers, and they picked up Pujols. Is the addition of Wilson and Pujols worth 6 wins this year? Debatable, but this is also a team that always over-achieves regarding run differential. I bet they wish they still had Mike Napoli though. Then they’d be legitimate contenders.

Steve: Over. They’ll win the division this year and be a legitimate contender come playoff time.

Oakland A’s  71 (74 wins)
Sean: Over.

Jon: Over. I think their pitching is closer to the 2010 level than 2011, and they’re a mid-70 win team.

Steve: Over. Last year’s sleeper. Maybe they should’ve been this year’s sleeper. Who knows?

Texas Rangers  91.5 (96 wins)
Sean: Over. They deserve a lot more respect than they get.

Jon: Why is this line so low? They won 96 games last year with an oft-injured Hamilton (that could very well be true again) and they’ve added Yu (Wang) Darvish. He wears this shirt. They should win 100.

Steve: Over. Losing C.J. Wilson won’t be a tragedy. They’ll win the non-AL East Wild Card.

Division Prediction:

Sean: Watching the Rangers succeed just reminds me that the Braves gave up Elvis Andrus, Saltalamacchia, Matt Harrison, and Neftali Feliz for one year of Mark fucking Teixeira. It’s not quite Colon for Cliff Lee/Brandon Phillips/and Grady Sizemore but it’s still pretty bad. Random Braves complaining aside, I’m taking the Rangers. They are a more complete team than the Angels, with starting pitching depth and a full lineup of hitters. Albert Pujols is going to be amazing but the Angels don’t have a lineup to match the Rangers and I don’t trust their bullpen.

Steve: The Mariners will definitely be terrible, and the A's will probably also be terrible. The Rangers and Angels will both be very good. So that's a pretty interesting dynamic. WIth the additions of Pujols and WIlson, I think the Angels are the team to beat in this division. Their pitching is very good, and their lineup looks a hell of a lot better with Pujols, especially if (IF) Kendrys Morales can come back and play a little bit. Texas is really good though.

Jon: The Angels are stocked in pitching and have few standout hitters. Even with the addition of Pujols, whom I expect to be great but not necessarily the best hitter in baseball, they’re still giving major playing time to the likes of Vernon Wells. The Rangers are basically the opposite, with a few very good pitchers and from top-to-bottom one of the best lineups in baseball. Counting on full seasons from Beltre, Hamilton and Napoli (at least as a fraction of last year) is a risky proposition, but then you remember that the Rangers also have Kinsler, Andrus and Cruz. They’re fucking stacked is what I’m saying. I’m also almost always in favor of trying to convert relievers to starters if they might have the makeup, so I’m fully on the side of this Feliz experiment. And since we bitched about the NL Central having 6 teams, I’d be remiss not to mention that just by dint of being in this division each team has vastly improved odds of making the playoffs (and there are 2 clearly good teams and 2 clearly bad teams in this divisoin). I’m glad the MLB is finally changing this.

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