2010 MLB Preview: AL West

In order to help get you ready for the MLB season, we’re doing division-by-division rankings with quick overviews on how each club could fair in 2010. Next to each team, you’ll also find a corresponding number written in parenthesis, which indicates where we believe that club falls in a league-wide power ranking. Be sure to check back throughout the next two weeks leading up to the season, as we will be updating our content daily. Enjoy.

All 2010 MLB Preview Content | AL East Preview | AL Central Preview | AL West Preview | NL East | NL Central | NL West

Next up is the AL West.

1. Los Angeles Angels (6)
When I started to do the prep work for the AL West preview, I filled the top slot with the Angels without even giving it much thought. And why should I have? They’ve won the division six of the last seven years and baseball fans have just grown accustomed to the Halos being in the playoff mix every season. But immediately after I slotted them in the top spot, my stomach started to hurt and no, it wasn’t from the fish I ate last night. (Although hey, fish is still good even when it turns green right?) There’s no doubt that the Angels took a hit this offseason. They lost their ace (John Lackey), their leadoff man (Chone Figgins) and their top power source (Vladimir Guerrero), and usually when a team parts with that much talent, it suffers a setback. But this is why I’m not overly concerned about this club: the additions of Joel Pineiro and Hideki Matsui should pay dividends and if Scott Kazmir could ever stay healthy, he would ease the loss of Lackey. Plus, in Erick Aybar (their new leadoff hitter), Kendry Morales and Torri Hunter, the Halos still have a solid offensive core and their starting pitching is still in good shape with vets like Kazmir, Jered Weaver and Joe Saunders. Times are changing in L.A. and the Mariners and Rangers will push the Halos this season, but in the end they should be right back on top.

2. Seattle Mariners (8)
It’s hard not to get excited about the Mariners’ potential this season. After adding pitcher Cliff Lee in the offseason via a trade with the Phillies, they catapulted themselves into the Wild Card discussion and they should challenge the Angels in the division. But for as giddy as the thought of Lee, Felix Hernandez and Erick Bedard gets Seattle fans, there’s still that nagging offensive issue – as in, the M’s don’t have any. Jack Zduriencik tailor made this club for Safeco, which means pitching and defense are the focal points. But can the Mariners generate enough runs to overtake the Angels? The addition of Chone Figgins at the top of the lineup was great, but can Seattle get by playing small ball with him and Ichiro? At the end of the day, I like the club’s chances to succeed this season, especially with the addition of Lee and the fact that they improved their win total in 2009 by 24 games. But I’m not sure they’ll have enough offense yet to reach the postseason.

3. Texas Rangers (14)
On the surface, it’s tough to tell whether or not the Rangers are improved or not. Their high-powered offense wasn’t up to its usual standards last year because Josh Hamilton missed 73 games due to various injuries. But if Texas can get a full season out of him, then the club should score plenty of runs in 2010. The club lost workhorse Kevin Millwood via free agency but added Rich Harden, who can be dominating when healthy. If youngsters Neftali Feliz and Scott Feldman produce, then there’s no reason to think the Rangers can’t challenge for the Wild Card (or even the division). That said, I trust their pitching as much as I trust the Mariners’ offense, which is to say I don’t. That’s why I don’t have the gumption to write Seattle or Texas into the No. 1 spot in this division. But if Harden, Feliz and Feldman all overachieve, it wouldn’t surprise me in the least if the Rangers made some noise this season.

4. Oakland A’s (23)
Since when did the AL West get so competitive? Even though the A’s appear to be the weakest club in the division, they could wind up surprising people with their pitching and defense. Unfortunately for them, they don’t have enough offense to stay competitive all season. The combination of Coco Crisp, Jack Cust and Kevin Kouzmanoff isn’t even enough to scare Snuggle, the fabric softener bear, so what makes anyone think that they’re going to scare Cliff Lee, Felix Hernandez or Scott Kazmir? Ben Sheets will make for an interesting storyline to follow (although he’s having a horrid spring) and the bullpen should be outstanding with Andrew Bailey as its headliner, but other than that there’s not much to like about Oakland this season. They may hang with the three teams above in the first half, but eventually they should quietly sink to the bottom of the division.

Photo from fOTOGLIF

Follow the Scores Report editors on Twitter @clevelandteams and @bullzeyedotcom.

Related Posts