Well, the Los Angeles Angels did it again. Even though they did not make the playoffs in 2012, the Angels are a popular pick to win the AL West this season because they made another free agent splash to compliment their previous signings of Albert Pujols and CJ Wilson, not to mention Rookie of the Year and MVP runner-up Mike Trout. Josh Hamilton, he of MVP status in Texas and devastating swing, now joins these other players in an Angels lineup that is downright scary. Is there pitching enough to hold up? That last question isn’t something anyone will be asking about the reigning American League West champion Oakland Athletics. The A’s suffered injuries last season that forced a number of young players – especially pitchers – into major league service, and they answered the calls well beyond expectation. A late season charge for the division title captured the nation’s attention, but their playoff bid fell short to eventual ALCS winner Detroit.
Oakland’s win came at the expense of the Texas Rangers, who collapsed out of the division lead and then suffered a disheartening loss to the Baltimore Orioles in the AL Wild Card. While they have lost some established offensive pieces in the offseason, Yu Darvish leads a Rangers pitching staff which will keep them in good position while a number of talented youngsters catches up to MLB speed. Pitching is also the premier draw in Seattle, where the Mariners seem to have “King” Felix Hernandez inked for the rest of his career. He will need a lot of support to round into form quickly if he hopes to see the postseason anytime soon in the Emerald City. His weight will probably be shorter than new division rival Houston. The Astros, moving in from the NL Central, lost over 100 games last season. As they rebuild around players like Jose Altuve, some games against the AL West loaded lineups could get ugly, fast. If you listen closely, you won’t hear any of their new American League West rivals complaining.