2013 Season Preview – American League West

1. Division Champions – L.A. Angels


Last year: 89-73 (missed playoffs)

Projected Lineup:

1. LF: Mike Trout
2. SS: Erick Aybar
3. 1B: Albert Pujols
4. RF: Josh Hamilton
5. DH: Mark Trumbo
6. 2B: Howard Kendrick
7. 3B: Alberto Callaspo
8. C: Chris Iannetta
9. CF: Peter Bourjous

Projected Rotation:

1. Jered Weaver
2. C.J. Wilson
3. Joe Blanton
4. Jason Vargas
5. Tommy Hanson

The L.A. Angels were among the most disappointing teams in 2012. After spending major dollars to add former MVP Albert Pujols and starter C.J. Wilson, among other acquisitions, the Halos sputtered to an incredibly slow start that left them too far behind by the All-Star break to compete for the division title they had been expected to breeze to.

Again, the Angels have spend this offseason, adding former Texas outfielder Josh Hamilton to a lineup that was already loaded. They also shipped off underperforming starters Dan Haren and Zack Greinke. If Pujols returns to form, and rookie sensation Mike Trout plays anything near the level he did last year as a rookie, the Angels should be a lock for the AL West Crown.

SAD’s prediction – 94-68 (AL West Division Champs)

2. Seattle Mariners

Last year: 75-87 (missed playoffs)

Projected Lineup:

1. CF: Franklin Gutierrez
2. 3B: Kyle Seager
3. DH Kendrys Morales:
4. LF: Michael Morse
5. 1B: Justin Smoak
6. C: Jesus Montero
7. RF: Michael Saunders
8. 2B: Dustin Ackley
9. SS: Brendan Ryan

Projected Rotation:

1. Felix Hernandez
2. Joe Saunders
3. Hisashi Iwakuma
4. Blake Beaven
5. Brandon Maurer

This is SAD’s team to watch in 2013. Run production was the problem for Seattle in 2012. The Mariners scored the fourth fewest runs in all of baseball and had the leagues worst team batting average. The Mariners have worked hard this offseason to remedy their offensive woes. The front office added power hitters Kendrys Morales and Michael Morse to bolster the lineup, and then decided to bring in the outfield fences, shortening the distance from home plate to home run from four feet and up to 17 feet in parts of the park. This year should be the year that at least some of Seattle’s young players begin to develop into budding stars; guys like Michael Saunders, Justin Smoak, Dustin Ackley, Jesus Montero and Kyle Seager. If the offense is even marginally improved, the pitching staff – led by Felix Hernandez – is solid enough to be able hurl the Mariners to a playoff spot in a weakened American League West.

SAD’s prediction – 88-74 (Wild Card berth)

3. Oakland Athletics

Last year: 94-68 (AL West Champions)

Projected Lineup:

1. CF: Coco Crisp
2. SS: Jed Lowrie
3. RF: Josh Reddick
4. LF: Yoenis Cespedes
5. 1B: Brandon Moss
6. DH: Seth Smith
7. 3B: Josh Donaldson
8. C: John Jaso
9. 2B: Eric Sogard

Projected Rotation:

1. Brett Anderson
2. Jarrod Parker
3. Tommy Milone
4. A.J. Griffin
5. Dan Straily

The Oakland Athletics outscored opponents by a total of 99 runs in 2012, yet had just a .238 team batting average – third worst in the bigs. The A’s AL West division crown was won on the backs of youthful pitching and opportunistic hitting. Seeds All Day is skeptical as to whether ace Brett Anderson can remain healthy for a full season, and as to whether those young starters will be able to duplicate last year’s success now that teams will have seen them often enough to have sharpened their scouting reports against them. Oakland will have to hit and score runs with much greater consistency to make a run at a playoff spot in 2013.

SAD’s prediction: 83-79 (no playoff berth)

4. Texas Rangers

Last year: 93-69 (Wild Card berth)

Projected Lineup:

1. 2B: Ian Kinsler
2. SS: Elvis Andrus
3. DH: Lance Berkman
4. 3B: Adrian Beltre
5. RF: Nelson Cruz
6. LF: David Murphy
7. C: A.J. Pierzynski
8. 1B: Mitch Moreland
9. CF: Leonys Martin

Projected Rotation:

1. Matt Harrison
2. Yu Darvish
3. Derek Holland
4. Alexi Ogando
5. Nicholas Tepesch

Losing outfielder Josh Hamilton, C Mike Napoli and IF Michael Young to free agency has left a huge hole in the Texas Rangers’ lineup. Japanese starter Yu Darvish – the most talented pitcher in the rotation – dazzled in his rookie season. The key for the Rangers will be whether he can continue that dominance, or whether he will fade much in the way Daisuke Matsuzaka did as the league caught up to his stuff. The Rangers collapsed in September 2012, blowing a 5.5-game lead to Oakland and bowing out in the one-game Wild Card Series against Baltimore. Texas, who peaked with back-to-back World Series appearances in 2010 and 2011, should continue to decline in 2013 – a season likely to be marred by the controversy surrounding front office man and Texas legend Nolan Ryan.

SAD’s prediction: 81-81 (no playoff berth)

5. Houston Astros

Last year: 55-107

Projected Lineup:

1. 2B: Jose Altuve
2. 1B: Brett Wallace
3. LF: Chris Carter
4. DH: Carlos Pena
5. CF: Justin Maxwell
6. C: Jason Castro
7. 3B: Matt Dominguez
8. RF: Rick Ankiel
9. SS: Ronny Cedeno

Projected Rotation:

1. Bud Norris
2. Lucas Harrell
3. Philip Humber
4. Brad Peacock
5. Erik Bedard

To say the Houston Astros are in rebuilding mode would be a serious understatement. Houston was abysmal in 2012, where they lost 107 games, and the outlook is no better now that they will be playing in the American League. The team with the lowest payroll in baseball should finish as the worst team in baseball yet again in 2013. The Astros are developing for the future. They have decided to give their young guys an opportunity to play every day all while building up equity with which to spend on free agency and in trades next season. 2013 will be hard to watch for Houston fans, but we fully expect the Astros to become a player in the AL West by 2015.

SAD’s Prediction: 54-108 (no playoff birth)

About Matthew George

Matthew George graduated from the University of Kentucky in 2008 with a bachelor of science in journalism. He spent three years writing sports for the Kentucky Kernel, the university's daily paper, and served as assistant sports editor. After undergrad, Matthew attended Chase College of Law at Northern Kentucky University where he earned his juris doctorate. He is now admitted to practice law in Kentucky and Indiana.

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