The weather is getting warmer. The days are getting longer. Spring training is in full swing, and you can almost smell the freshly cut grass, hot dogs and peanuts of your local ballpark. The Rangers and Astros will kick off the season in just a few short weeks, and it is now time for a round of useless division predictions so we can all start getting our mind out of basketball mode and into its baseball preset. If you saw the Orioles finishing in second place in the notorious American League East or the Oakland A’s winning the AL west, then these projections aren’t useless. As it stands, we never know what twists and turns will take place over the course of 162, but we’re going to try to look into the future and see where things will stand come October.
American League West:
Houston Astros, 5th place
Sorry, Astros fans. 2013 is going to be just as forgettable as the last couple years of baseball in H-Town. Coming off a miserable 55 win season, the path to relevance gets a bit harder with their transition to the American League West, home of a couple of the best teams in baseball and the DH. The Astros will begin the year with the lowest payroll in the league by far, and their current roster would have trouble competing in AAA, let alone the big leagues. But I am really excited to see the retro uniforms they’ll be rolling out this year. They’re going to be put to shame on the field while dressed to the nines.
Seattle Mariners, 4th place
Slowly but surely, they’re putting the pieces back together. Felix Hernandez will do Felix Hernandez things, but the putrid smell of the offense can still be smelled all the way from the East coast. Dustin Ackley and Jesus Montero should begin to take the next steps in their progression into impact players, and the additions of Michael Morse and Kendrys Morales will aid the cause. If the offense can hold up and the rotation can find someone to help out King Felix, the Mariners could be primed to make some noise in 2013.
Oakland A’s, 3rd place
I refuse to believe they can catch lighting in a bottle twice. Refuse. The 19-5 record they posted in July surely can’t be replicated again, and surely the amazingly young pitching staff can’t repeat their out of mind performance of 2012. A healthy season from Brett Anderson will help in their defense of the American League West title, as well as a full season from the Cuban outfielder Yoenis Cespedes. I don’t think they can repeat, but I also had them finishing last in the predictions last year. Who knows with Billy Beane’s group.
Texas Rangers, 2nd place
Following a rough offseason that saw almost nothing go according to plan, the Rangers have some doubters heading into the 2013 campaign for the rest time in awhile. The starting rotation led by Yu Darvish and Matt Harrison should be formidable, but Derek Holland and Alexi Ogando are going to have to have solid seasons if they want to reclaim the AL West title. Elvis Andrus, Adrian Beltre and the rest of the gang are going to have to make up for the loss of Josh Hamilton, and A.J. Pierzynski is going to have to replicate the solid season of 2012 he had with the White Sox in the heat of the summer. The Rangers have as good a chance as anyone, but they have some work to do.
Los Angeles Angels, 1st place
Sweet, sweet Déjà vu. Seems as though it was only a few short months ago I picked the Angels to win the American League West a season ago after a big offseason, only to watch them fall flat on their face coming out of the starting blocks. Josh Hamilton, Peter Bourjos and Mike Trout probably represent the most compete outfield in the big leagues, while Albert Pujols and Mark Trumbo hold down the corners of the infield. The starting rotation could be an Achilles heel after Jered Weaver and C.J. Wilson, but on paper, it looks like it should hold up. I’ve done this before and it didn’t pan out, we’ll see if 2013 is any better for the Angels.