2008 AL West Preview
The American League West is the smallest division in the majors. With the Los Angeles Angels, Seattle Mariners, Texas Rangers and Oakland Athletics, the West often sees it’s division-winner knocked out of the playoffs in the first-round. Teams tend to be built to conquer the West and not much else.
The Angels managed to improve the most over the off-season by securing outfielder Torii Hunter and pitcher Jon Garland, beefing up offense, defense and pitching. With a dynamite group of hitters, the West’s best gun slinging rotation, a tough bullpen and solid “D,” the Angels are the team to beat. They also have a deep bench and promising minor league prospects. Los Angeles looks tough to stop.
Ichiro of Seattle is one of the most consistently great players in the game today. Hitting, running and fielding— it looks like he can do it all. But he can’t do it all; Ichiro needs help from the team. If Andre Beltre can continue to make strides that will add some offensive clout. If Richie Sexton finally does something in his contract year, this team could do some damage. The bullpen is solid but the starting rotation is spotty. Last season, the starters had a combined ERA of 5.16. Felix Hernandez is their one money starter.
Although the Rangers have shown improvement and possess promise and young talent, they still have a long way to go to be a true contender. Closing problems from last season may have been solved with C.J. Wilson who saved 12 of 14 late last year. Better fielding would help. There are a lot of question marks and many moves to make to get this team to the next level.
The Oakland Athletics are in the midst of a rebuilding program, which includes some developing talent on the farm, a bunch of new pitchers and recently acquired prospects. Last season’s roster reads like a triage report with injury after season-ending injury. The bullpen is the best part of the pitching staff. Batting averages are overall average or below average. The return of a healthy Mark Kotsay could add some offense. But will he be healthy?
The Angels have bulked up and are the favorites to win the division. They also posses the potential to get to the ALCS. Seattle could to be a nuisance and perhaps even take the top spot in the West. It would be nice to see Ichiro in the post-season. But don’t count on it. Texas and Oakland will struggle to finish third.
2008 American League West Predictions
Projected Order of Finish:
Click on team name for individual team preview.