American League West Predictions
The Oakland A’s have won back-to-back AL West titles out of nowhere. Billy Beane has done it again, taking a team with one of the smallest payrolls in baseball to the top of the American League. The Texas Rangers and Los Angeles Angels get all the hype, but it’s the A’s that play the game the right way.
You can bet that both the Angels and Rangers will be gunning for first place in 2014. This division has gotten a lot stronger in the offseason as not only the Angels and Rangers made moves, but the Mariners went all in with Robinson Cano to try and get back into contention. Let’s take a look at how I have this division playing out in 2014.
AL West Predictions
- Odds to Win AL West: +160
- Projected Record: 90-72
The Rangers are only a couple years removed from making the World Series in back-to-back seasons in 2010 and 2011. They would fall short of the postseason in 2013 despite winning 91 games. They know that the bar has been set high in the AL West heading into 2014, and that’s why they went out and traded for Prince Fielder to add even more pop to the lineup. They also signed Shin-Soo Choo off a monster year in Cincinnati, and this is easily one of the most potent lineups in baseball. The key to the Rangers is better health in the rotation as Yu Darvish, Matt Harrison and Derek Holland are all banged up. That’s why they will be relying heavily on guys like Tanner Scheppers, Martin Perez and Joe Saunders, which is concerning. I’ll take a chance and say that the rotation will hold up and that the Rangers get back to the top of the AL West in 2014.
2. Oakland A’s
- Odds to Win AL West: +180
- Projected Record: 88-74
Billy Beane is back to his old tricks in turning one of the smallest payrolls in baseball into a winner. The A’s have won an average of 95 games over the past two seasons while winning the AL West in back-to-back seasons. They just have tremendous balance from their lineup, to their rotation to their bullpen. Josh Donaldson, Jed Lowrie, Coco Crisp, Yoenis Cespedes, Brandon Moss and Josh Reddick carry the lineup. Snny Gray, Scott Kazmir, Jesse Chaves, Dan Straily and Tom Milone form a solid rotation. A.J. Griffin should be back in early April from a muscle strain. The bullpen is in good hands with Jim Johnson, Sean Doolittle and Luke Gregerson. This team would be the safe bet to win it again, but I have pegged them in second place.
- Odds to Win AL West: +155
- Projected Record: 82-80
The Angels fell flat on their faces last season despite making some huge moves in the offseason. They have not been to the postseason since 2009 even though their lineup features Josh Hamilton, Albert Pujols and Mike Trout last season. Their lineup wasn’t as potent as it was supposed to be as both Hamilton and Pujols had down years, but it was the pitching staff that really did them in. The lineup gets a boost with the addition of David Freese and Raul Ibanez this year. The rotation will be solid at the top with Jered Weaver and C.J. Wilson, but there are a lot of question marks thereafter. The bullpen had the fifth-worst ERA (4.12) in all of baseball last year and is a concern again. Somehow, the Angels are the favorites to win the division, but I have them finishing in third.
- Odds to Win AL West: +825
- Projected Record: 80-82
After winning 75 or fewer games in each of the past four seasons, ownership in Seattle has said enough is enough. They have opened up their pocket books to try and bring a contender to these beloved fans. The Mariners signed Robinson Cano to a 10-year, $240 million deal a year after giving Felix Hernandez big money to remain in Seattle for the foreseeable future. They also brought in Corey Hard and Logan Morrison to try and bolster the lineup. If they can just finish in the middle of the pack in runs score this season, the Mariners have a chance to be special due to a rotation that is underrated. Along with Hernandez, the rotation boasts Hisashi Iwakuma, Taijuan Walker, Erasmo Ramirez and James Paxton. Both Iwakuma and Walker will be sidelined with injuries until late April, and the key to Seattle’s season could be their health.
- Odds to Win AL West: +12500
- Projected Record: 55-107
It’s a no-brainer to put the Astros in the basement of the AL West once again in 2014. This team is in full-on rebuilding mode, and it’s going to be another couple of years before it really starts paying dividends. The Astros are coming off three consecutive 100-loss seasons, including a club-record 111 losses in 2013. The only real moves they made this offseason was to bring in center fielder Dexter Fowler and starting pitcher Scott Feldman. Those aren’t the kind of moves that are going to put more wins on the board for this organization in 2014. There are some nice pieces here in Jose Altuve and Jason Castro, and the farm system is loaded with talent, but the Astros would do well not to finish with the worst record in baseball again this year.