Friday, March 28, 2014

Baseball is Back: NL, AL West Preview and Prediction

Who takes the NL West?
After taking a look at the NL and AL East and Central, it is only right to look at the West. Then you will be all ready for the baseball season!
Arizona Diamondbacks (2013 record: 81-81): The Diamondbacks coming off a .500 season will be looking to improve. They have one of the most dangerous hitters in the game, Paul Goldschmidt leading the offense. This offseason they acquired Mark Trumbo so that will give them a nice thump to the lineup. The pitching staff took a huge blow with Patrick Corbin going down to Tommy John surgery. The pitching may struggle this year but look for a top prospect, Archie Bradley, to make a huge splash into the rotation later in the year.
Key additions: OF: Mark Trumbo, RP: Addison Reed

Colorado Rockies (2013 record: 74-88): The Rockies always seem to disappoint. A big reason to that is the injuries Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez always seem to come up with. If they are ever healthy the entire season, this is a very potent offense. But that is a big if. Michael Cuddyer who is getting up there in age had a great 2013 season and even if he is not as productive this year, he is still someone who is very consistent and reliable. Look for Nolan Arenado to breakout this year. The offense will be fine but the real question is the pitching. Pitching in Coors Field is never fun with the light air. The pitching is led by Jorge De La Rosa and after that it is really a question mark.
Key additions: OF: Drew Stubbs, 1B: Justin Morneau

Los Angeles Dodgers (2013 record: 92-70): After they struggled out of the gate last season, the Dodgers made a big run at the end of the season. Already 2-0 on the season with the opening series against the Arizona Diamondbacks in Sydney, Australia, the Dodgers are looking to make a World Series run. They have a crowded outfield and a lot of talent on this team. Led by the best pitcher in baseball, Clayton Kershaw with a dominant bullpen, the Dodgers will be one of the best teams in baseball. Last year Yasiel Puig made a huge splash into the majors. He is an exciting player to watch and can play a little too reckless at times. The Dodgers will likely run away with this division before it is all said and done.
Key additions: RP: Brian Wilson, RP: Chris Perez, OF/IF: Chone Figgins

San Diego Padres (2013 record: 76-86): The Padres are an interesting team to look at. Part of me wants to say they will be a competitive team, but then part of me wants to say, it’s the Padres. The offense is the one thing that usually has its struggles for them however this year I think they will be pretty good. With Chase Headley and a healthy Carlos Quentin, they have the potential to be pretty good. Also they have someone who can spark the offense and steal bases at the top of the order with Everth Cabrera. Jedd Gyroko seems to be like someone who can have a big season as well. The pitching of the Padres is underrated. Look for Andrew Cashner to have a big season as well as Tyson Ross. This Padres team may surprise many people.
Key additions: SP: Ian Kennedy, SP: Josh Johnson, RP: Joaquin Benoit

San Francisco Giants (2013 record: 76-86): The Giants had  a very disappointing 2013 season. It is safe to say they will be looking to improve and they will improve. Matt Cain and Tim Lincecum both had poor years but in Spring Training they are looking like their old selves. The pitching is led by Madison Bumgarner who is very consistent. Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain need to come out of their 2013 funk in order for this team to be competitive. The offense is led by Buster Posey, Pablo Sandoval, Hunter Pence and Brandon Belt. This team looks to be poised for a run for the playoffs.
Key additions: OF: Michael Morse, SP: Tim Hudson

Prediction: The Dodgers will ultimately win this division. If the Giants pitchers can produce like they are capable of, they have a chance to keep up with the Dodgers. It will likely be a two team race with the Dodgers and Giants.
1. Los Angeles Dodgers
2. San Francisco Giants
3. Colorado Rockies
4. Arizona Diamondbacks
5. San Diego Padres
Who takes the AL West?
AL West
Houston Astros (2013 record: 51-111): The worst team in baseball is not going to get much better. The offense will struggle, the pitching will struggle. It’s going to be another rough season for the Astros. They are hoping the farm system can help them and it probably will not be this year besides George Springer.
Key additions: OF: Dexter Fowler, SP: Scott Feldman, RP: Chad Qualls, RP: Jesse Crain

Los Angeles Angels (2013 record: 78-84): Yes, one of my favorite teams to follow and it’s because of Mike Trout. Mike Trout is the without a doubt the best baseball PLAYER in the game, not hitter but player. The Angels have a lot of talent but will Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton produce this year or will they struggle again? The pitcher that has a chance for a big breakout season is Tyler Skaggs. Traded multiple times in his young career already, he will be looking to impress and stay with the Angels. It looks like he has won the fifth spot in the rotation, so it’s his time to shine. The Angels will need to their big name players to produce like they are capable of to make the postseason.
Key additions: SP: Tyler Skaggs, 3B: David Freese, OF: Raul Ibanez

Oakland Athletics (2013 record: 96-66): How the Athletics make the playoffs with the players they have I still will never understand. Moneyball at its finest. The team is pretty solid all around but nothing really jumps out at you. They will be led by Yoenis Cespedes and Josh Donaldson on offense. The pitching is led by Sonny Gray who made a name for himself in last year’s playoffs. He will be looking to make another leap forward in his development. It seems like nothing from the Athletics ever “wows” you but they always put together a solid ball club.
Key additions: SP: Scott Kazmir, RP: Jim Johnson

Seattle Mariners (2013 record: 71-91): Making the biggest move in the offseason, the Mariners signed Robinson Cano. Besides Cano, the offense doesn’t look particularly great. They do have a few young guys who might produce well in Brad Miller, Kyle Seager and Dustin Ackley but they are big question marks right now. The pitching staff is led by Felix Hernandez and he is one of the best pitchers in the game. Following him should be Taijuan Walker who was a top prospect but he will enter the season on the disabled list which is a big blow to the team. The Mariners may be competitive early in the season, but in the end they won’t be competing for a playoff spot.
Key additions: 2B: Robinson Cano, DH: Corey Hart, OF: Logan Morrison, RP: Fernando Rodney

Texas Rangers (2013 record: 91-72): The Rangers are coming off a 91 win season but failed to make the playoffs so it was quite a disappointing season. The team traded Ian Kinsler in the offseason and got Prince Fielder in return. By moving Kinsler, it freed up second base for Jurickson Profar. However Profar is reported out 10-12 weeks due to a muscle tear in his right shoulder so that is a huge blow to them. Yu Darvish will lead the pitching staff but the Rangers had a scare and Darvish will be held out opening day due to a sore neck. The offense will be strong once again with Adrian Beltre, Prince Fielder and Shin-Soo Choo leading the way. The Rangers are a well balanced team and will be fighting for a playoff spot.
Key additions: OF: Shin-Soo Choo, 1B: Prince Fielder

Prediction: This will be a three team battle with the Rangers, Angels and Athletics. In the end I think the Angels pull it out with Mike Trout leading the way. He will win the American League MVP and with a healthy Albert Pujols the Angels are even more dangerous. I hate picking against the Athletics since they always seem to find a way to climb to the top but I think the fire power of the Angels will be too much for them this year.
1. Los Angeles Angels
2. Oakland Athletics
3. Texas Rangers
4. Seattle Mariners
5. Houston Astros

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