Stop me when this sentence sounds familiar, “The Angels made the big splash of the offseason.” It was like déjà vu, only this time they stole Josh Hamilton from division foe Texas Rangers. Did the Rangers do enough to compete after losing Hamilton? Nah. Did last year’s division winning Oakland Athletics do enough to repeat? Probably not, but let’s not under estimate Billy Beane.
Division Winner: Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
Even though I absolutely hate the contracts the Angels signed in the long term, I think that it will most definitely pay off this year. I think the addition of Josh Hamilton will push them past the Rangers and the A’s. Also, I think the subtractions from the Rangers will make it easier for the Angels to win the division this year. This might sounds scary, but Mike Trout might get even better this year after a year in the bigs. But the Angels will need to do all they can to keep Trout from having the typical “Sophomore Slump.” The Angels pitching worries me a little because they traded Ervin Santana and released Dan Haren. Those two were replaced by Joe Blanton, Jason Vargas and Tommy Hanson. I am worried about the Angels because of their age and pitching, but I don’t have much confidence in the Rangers after losing Hamilton and Mike Napoli. Also, I do not think that the A’s will be able to repeat the run they made at the end of the last season to lead them to the playoffs.
Other Possible Playoff Teams:
Texas Rangers- Hey, you never know. Nobody would have thought the Angels would miss the playoffs and the A’s would make it last year. So maybe the Rangers can fill in the losses of Hamilton, Napoli and Michael Young by using some young prospects like Jurickson Profar, Mike Olt, and Leonys Martin. The only question will be whether the pitching can hold up over the course of the season.
Oakland A’s- They did win the division last season, and were surprisingly a fan team to watch. I thought the A’s made a great addition when they added Jed Lowrie to man third base, and adding John Jaso and Chris Young can’t hurt (although Young will be just a 4th or maybe even 5th outfielder). The A’s have a very young and promising pitching staff but once again there unpredictable, and on paper the AL West crown seems unlikely.
Seattle Mariners- Fans in Seattle rejoice, the Mariners will most likely move out of the AL West basement this year! No it’s not because of anything special they have done, but really because the division added the Houston Astros. They have Felix Hernandez, but the offense still lacks even with the additions of Michael Morse and Kendrys Morales.
Houston Astros- The change of divisions is not going to do them any favors. For a team that lacked depth in the lineup, the new DH spot almost seemed scary at first, but the team adjusted and grabbed at least a little power in Carlos Pena and Chris Carter. Having said that, it doesn’t really change anything. Not only do I expect them to finish last, I will forever hold a grudge against the Astros because I absolutely hate the idea of having Interleague Play all throughout the year.
MVP: Mike Trout
If Trout can produce even close to how he produced last season, he will probably win the AL MVP. Trout put up historic numbers last year as a rookie and needs to get over the typical “Sophomore Slump.” Trout should still hit over .300 and play great defense even with learning a new position. Trout has the scary capability to be a 40-40 player in the future, but for this year he could be 30-30 and win the MVP.
Cy Young: Yu Darvish
If not for Mike Trout, Yu Darvish could have been the AL Rookie of the Year. Darvish put up great numbers in his first year in the States and should just get better after spending a year in the Majors and learning the ropes. Darvish won 16 games with an era just under 4. Darvish should be able to improve on his era this year and pick up a few extra wins. If Darvish can lower his era to about a 3.40-3.55, and win 18-19 games, he will be the best pitcher in this division.