The 2010 American League World Series representative came from the AL West as the Texas Rangers beat the Tampa Bay Rays and New York Yankees before falling to the San Francisco Giants in the World Series. With Cliff Lee and Vladimir Guerrero exiting Texas and Michael Young wanting out, Texas might take a step back this year making things very interesting. Here is how I see the AL West playing out.
1st – Oakland Athletics – Maybe I’m reaching a bit, but I think the A’s have a shot this year. They finished in second place last year, and this year they have a few more bats in their lineup to help out their pitching. The A’s outfield has Josh Willingham, Coco Crisp, and David DeJesus. Not great, but not exactly bad either. Their infield has Kurt Suzuki, Kevin Kouzmanoff, Daric Barton, Mark Ellis, and Cliff Pennington. The A’s real strength is in their pitching. Trevor Cahill, Brett Anderson, Gio Gonzalez, and Dallas Braden are a pretty decent one through four. If Rich Harden can actually spend time on the field and not the DL (not likely) that will also be a nice contribution for Oakland. Oakland’s bullpen is what will help them win this year. Andrew Bailey, Grant Balfour, and Brian Fuentes are a nice back end of that bullpen.
2nd – Texas Rangers – The Rangers will still have a decent enough team to compete, but I don’t think they will take the division. Their outfield consists of Josh Hamilton, Julio Borbon, and Nelson Cruz, but I wouldn’t bet on Hamilton making it through a whole season. The Rangers have a nice infield with some pop. Adrian Beltre, Ian Kinsler, Chris Davis and Mike Napoli behind the plate can all mash, and with Elvis Andrus on the base paths, they will provide some good run support. The rotation still has C.J. Wilson, Tommy Hunter, and Scott Feldman, but not having Cliff Lee hurts. Texas also took a chance on Brandon Webb, which could pay off huge dividends. The bullpen is ok with Neftali Feliz as their closer, but I’m still not sold on them.
3rd – Los Angeles Angels – The Angels have a decent starting rotation which is going to keep them in a lot of ball games this year. Jered Weaver, Dan Haren, Ervin Santana…that’s a nice 1-2-3. If Scott Kazmir can stay healthy, blah blah blah (See Rich Harden Above). The Angels decided to take Vernon Wells and his ridiculous contract, but he’s still a nice addition in the outfield along with Torii Hunter. LA will be happy to have Kendry Morales back at first and it’s looking like Bobby Abreu will be their DH this year. Howie Kendrick is one of the better second baseman in baseball. Their bullpen is a shell of what it has been over the last decade, but can still get the job done. I could even see this team sneaking into second place in 2011.
4th – Seattle Mariners – The only time you can mention the words ‘first’ and ‘Seattle Mariners’ is when you talk about Felix Hernandez and the Cy Young award or David Aardsma and the phone book. Yes Seattle still has Ichiro in right field, but who on this team will drive him in? Felix Hernandez will put together another good year, but the rest of the rotation is a mess. As for their bullpen…let’s just say there were several reasons why Seattle went 61-101 in 2010.