Sunday, March 27, 2011

2011 Major League Baseball Season Predictions: AL West

The 2011 Major League Baseball season is almost here and that means just one thing, it's prediction time. It's time to predict who finishes where and who wins what division.

I'll give record predictions for each team in each division, talk about the players to watch, and maybe some surprises for this season. If you don't agree, great, let me know why and where you think these teams will finish and who your players are to watch.

We'll go division by division starting with the American League's Western Division.

Ready? Let's get it...

AL West:

Texas Rangers  93-69  (2010: 90-72)

Los Angeles Angels  86-76  (2010: 80-82)

Oakland Athletics  84-78  (2010: 81-81)

Seattle Mariners  74-88 (2010: 61-101)

Analysis: The Rangers don't have Cliff Lee but they have one of the more potent offenses in the American League with Ian Kinsler, Michael Young, Josh Hamilton, Nelson Cruz, and newcomer Adrian Beltre.

The Angels have a new addition as well with outfielder Vernon Wells and pitcher Dan Haren, the Angels should definitely make a bigger impact in the division than last season.

The Oakland A's have a young pitching staff and could be a factor after adding a former Rangers' pitcher, Rich Harden, and along with Dallas Braden, Trevor Cahill and Tyson Ross they should be improved from last season. Just not enough to challenge the defending champion Texas Rangers.

The Seattle Mariners have King Felix and Ichiro but not much else. They're going to be rebuilding for awhile.

Players to watch:

Texas Rangers: Adrian Beltre - are they getting the guy who played with the Dodgers and Red Sox or the guy who flopped in Seattle?

Los Angeles Angels: Vernon Wells - He's dealing with a hamstring injury but this is a guy that can provide 20-25 home runs per season. Put that next to Torii Hunter and you have two guys who can cause hitters a lot of problems.

Oakland A's: Hideki Matsui - He's a veteran among what is a very young squad. He showed he still has pop in his bat playing for the Angels last season. If he brings that to Oakland he should be a big factor for the A's to stay in the race in 2011.

Seattle Mariners: Felix Hernandez - Still one of the best young pitchers in the game today, it's just unfortunate that he plays for a team who really isn't that good. Aside from that, he is still a pitcher a lot of teams don't want to face every fifth day. It wouldn't, however, surprise me a bit to see him on the trade block at the deadline.

Follow Todd Kaufmann @T_Kaufmann and you can find him on Facebook

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