The 3rd Man In

2013 MLB Predictions: American League West

Every team starts the season tied for first place, and in baseball anything is possible. For the players and fans there are hopes, and even for some, dreams, that their team will be a top their division at the end of the season. With Opening Day less than a month away, here is how I see the American League Central shaping out to be:

1st – Los Angeles Angels:

The Angels stole the offseason headlines for the second consecutive season with the signing of slugger Josh Hamilton to a five-year deal worth $125 million. Besides signing Hamilton, the Angels improved their pitching staff. The Angels signed Ryan Madson and Sean Burnett to bolster their bullpen, and acquired Joe Blanton, Tommy Hanson and Jason Vargas to fill the holes in their rotation.

The Angels are an extremely talented team, with one of the best lineups in baseball led by Mike Trout, Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton. On paper the Angels are one of the best teams in baseball and expect them to win close to 100 games this season.

2nd – Oakland Athletics:

The A’s have a terrific young core of players returning from last year. Even though they have lost some contributors from last year, do not be surprised if they are an even better team with their offseason acquisitions. Jed Lowrie and Chris Young (OF) were both acquired in trades, and Japanese import Hiroyuki Nakajima was signed to fill the hole at shortstop.

If the young pitchers are able to continue from where they left off last season, and Josh Reddick and Yoenis Cespedes do not struggle offensively, the A’s will be in position to contend for a AL Wild Card.

3rd – Texas Rangers:

The Rangers had a very disappointing offseason, loosing many key players from last season and being unable to sign any big name players.

Josh Hamilton, Mike Napoli, Michael Young, Ryan Dempster, Mike Adams, and Koji Uehara have all signed with other teams this offseason. Loosing all of these quality veteran players will hurt the Rangers this season.

Aging veterans A.J. Pierzynski and Lance Berkman were brought in this offseason to replace some of the offensive production they lost. These two players will help, but the Rangers will no longer have a dominating offense that they have had in previous years.

At some point Jurickson Profar will be contributing at the major league level, but the Rangers offense will struggle to much to help the Rangers make the playoffs. The Rangers will finish just short of making the playoffs this season.

4th – Seattle Mariners:

This offseason the Mariners turned their focus to improving their dreadful offense. Over the past three seasons the Mariners have scored the least amount of runs in the American League. Both Kenrdys Morales and Michael Morse were acquired via trade this offseason, and they will make an immediate impact on their offense.

The Mariners have deep farm system with many talented prospects and some of them will help the Mariners this year. The Mariners have a talented team, with even more talent in the minors, but they are still a year away from being a playoff contender.

5th- Houston Astros:

This will be the Astros first season apart of the American League, and they will have a grueling time winning games. This offseason the Astros signed multiple low cost veterans, to go along with their young core of players. Their biggest move was trading Jed Lowrie to the A’s for young, slugger Chris Carter and pitching prospect Brad Peacock.

The Astros are in a rebuilding mode and are years from being a competitive team, and they will finish last in the AL West.

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