2013 result: 91-72, 2nd place, lost Game 163 to Tampa Bay
Since the mind-numbing heartbreak of the 2011 World Series, the Rangers have slipped in the past two years due to meager second halves. While 2012 at least yielded a wild card berth, their loss in game 163 last year kept them out of the playoffs for the first time since 2009. GM Jon Daniels has correctly improved the lineup by acquiring Prince Fielder and Shin-Soo Choo, although the rotation has taken a step back with Derek Holland out until midseason. But that rotation is still anchored by Yu Darvish, and if the other starters can pick up the slack reasonably well with such a muscular offense to aid them they should have the solvency to make it to October again.
Prediction: 93-69, 1st place
2013 result: 96-66, 1st place, lost ALDS 3-2 to Detroit
In the immediate aftermath of yet another brutal five-game ALDS loss, many were quick to write off Billy Beane’s moneyball method as a failure. It may not have gotten them far in the playoffs often, but as far as constructing a winner with one of the lowest payrolls in the game, well, if it ain’t broke don’t fix it. This offseason has certainly been a classic Beane one, with risky trade-offs such as Bartolo Colon in favor of Scott Kazmir, Jim Johnson over Grant Balfour, and a substantial number of other key players (Brett Anderson, Jemile Weeks) leaving. Regardless of whether or not you’re cynical of moneyball’s potential at this point, Oakland still has an exciting youthful offensive and pitching core that should carry them to another consistent season, although the division should be a little harder to claim this year.
Prediction: 92-70, 2nd place
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
2013 result: 78-84, 3rd place
The second year of Albert Pujols’ blockbuster contract saw declining performances from him and the Angels as a whole. Pujols’ season was limited to 99 games by plantar fasciitis, making his .258 average and 17 HR’s far more forgivable. The Angels altogether, however, saw their win total plummet from 89 in 2012 to just 78 in 2013. It certainly wasn’t due to a lack of talent, with ace pitchers C.J. Wilson and Jered Weaver anchoring the rotation, Mike Trout effortlessly waging another MVP-worthy campaign, and an abundance of young position players such as Peter Bourjos, J.B. Shuck, and Howie Kendrick. Many may still point to the injury-plagued disappointment of Pujols and Josh Hamilton, as well as a starting rotation inconsistent outside of Weaver and Wilson. But the Angels’ Achilles heel was clearly their bullpen, which led the AL in blown saves. The team’s greatest shortcoming was encapsulated in a July/August series in Texas, where Anaheim’s relievers lost all three games on walk-off home runs. The Halos are probably a safe lock to be above .500 again this year if their bullpen improves and David Freese can rediscover his 2011-12 form, but Texas’s restocked lineup and Oakland’s aggressive dealing will likely block them from the playoffs yet again.
Prediction: 86-66, 3rd place
2013 result: 71-91, 4th place
In an era where most blockbuster contracts are being seen as ill-advised, the Mariners’ 10-year, $240 million deal for Robinson Cano looks like a lock to be the worst by far. Already 31, Cano could decline well before the contract is even halfway through. You could take the devil’s advocate stance and say that a team destitute for such a long period of time needed to make a decisive move like this, i.e. the Giants signing Barry Bonds in 1993 after only one NL pennant in the past three decades. But let’s be honest: Cano and Felix Hernandez are the only “contender” players on a team that hasn’t been to the playoffs since the 116-win squad of 2001. Going into 2014, a championship-caliber team in the future seems just as distant.
Prediction: 73-89, 4th place
2013 result: 51-111, 5th place
Give the Astros this much: Even as they had reached 1962 Mets/1899 Cleveland Spiders territory by the summer of 2013, they started dealing as necessary to start rebuilding. For this offseason, they’ve wisely stocked their bullpen to complement their rotation, adding Chad Qualls, Jesse Crain, and Matt Albers. But they’re still a long, long, looooonnngggg while away from even smelling .500. Perhaps the easiest last place pick in the game.
Prediction: 60-102, 5th place
Who will win the AL West in 2014?
- Texas Rangers (100%, 1 Votes)
- Houston Astros (0%, 0 Votes)
- Seattle Mariners (0%, 0 Votes)
- Los Angeles Angels (0%, 0 Votes)
- Oakland Athletics (0%, 0 Votes)
Total Voters: 1