I’ve posted predictions for the AL East and AL Central recently, and I’ll wrap things up by offering my predictions for 2012 for the AL West. The AL West is an interesting division because it now contains two of the elite teams in all of baseball, the Rangers and the Angels. It will be interesting to watch these two teams battle it out all year long.
I’ll be using the 2012 Major League Baseball Yearbook & Fantasy Guide as a reference to give you each player’s 2012 statistical projections. If you see a roster error, please leave a comment so that I may fix it.
1st Place: Los Angeles Angels (My prediction 97-65)
The Angels are going for it in 2012, and made it known to the rest of baseball by signing Albert Pujols and CJ Wilson.
Besides having the best hitter in the game in Pujols, they also have Jered Weaver headlining their rotation. Weaver went 18-8 with a 2.41 ERA last year.
He is joined in the rotation by Wilson, Dan Haren, Ervin Santana and a fifth starter – likely Jerome Williams. It’s a very strong rotation – one of the top rotations in baseball.
The Angels also have some excellent young players in Mark Trumbo and Mike Trout.
If aging veterans Bobby Abreu, Vernon Wells, and Torii Hunter still have something left to contribute, this team could push the 100 win mark.
2012 Statistical projections:
C Chris Iannetta .235-12-48
1B Albert Pujols .307-40-109
2B Howie Kendrick .280-17-71
3B Alberto Callaspo .285-6-47
3B Mark Trumbo .252-20-63
SS Erick Aybar .288-9-57
LF Peter Bourjos .268-9-34
CF Vernon Wells .234-25-70
RF Torii Hunter .271-25-90
DH Bobby Abreu .252-11-66
DH Kendrys Morales .297-17-56
SP Jered Weaver 17-9, 2.81 ERA, 224 IP, 217 K
SP Dan Haren 16-11, 3.48 ERA, 233 IP, 199 K
SP CJ Wilson 16-8, 3.02 ERA, 220 IP, 200 K
SP Ervin Santana 15-12, 3.49 ERA, 214 IP, 163 K
SP Jerome Williams 10-9, 4.31 ERA, 142 IP, 102 K
RP Jordan Walden 3.05 ERA, 35 saves, 65 IP, 73 K
RP Scott Downs 2.19 ERA, 2 saves, 62 IP, 43 K
2nd Place: Texas Rangers (My prediction: 95-67)
The Rangers have come close to winning the World Series the last two seasons. I believe that they are good enough again to make it back to the playoffs, although I think the Angels will squeak past them to win the division. The Rangers are very solid offensively.
Mike Napoli is probably the best offensive catcher in the major leagues having belted 30 home runs last year. Additionally, he can play first base and DH to keep his bat in the line up.
Ian Kinsler hit 32 home runs last year and ranks #2 of all second basemen in the MLB Yearbook magazine.
Adrian Beltre smashed 32 homers and knocked in 105 runs last year. This is his age 33 season, so he probably has another decent year or two before age starts to slow him down.
Then there is Josh Hamilton. Hamilton, a recovering drug and alcohol addict, went through a much-publicized relapse this offseason when he had a few drinks at a bar. He played through pain last year and smacked 25 HR despite missing time with injuries.
The Rangers also have Nelson Cruz, another power threat who hit 29 home runs. Cruz isn’t the greatest defender and his misplay of David Freese’s triple in the World Series ended up costing the Rangers than championship.
As for the Rangers rotation, they are solid. They can move Neftali Perez to a starter spot with Joe Nathan on board, and they also brought in Yu Darvish, Japan’s best pitcher. It’ll be interesting to watch how Darvish does. Most people predict he’ll fare better than Daisuke Matsuzaka did with Boston several years ago. This is the majors though, so don’t expect him to put up ridiculous numbers like in Japan. (Career 76-28, 1.72 ERA, 0.89 WHIP, 1024 IP, 1083 K)
2012 Statistical Projections:
C Mike Napoli .306-29-73
1B Mitch Moreland .258-17-60
2B Ian Kinsler .261-28-72
3B Adrian Beltre .285-27-88
SS Elvis Andrus .275-4-57
LF David Murphy .284-10-43
CF Josh Hamilton .309-30-107
RF Nelson Cruz .276-37-105
DH Michael Young .327-13-98
SP Colby Lewis 13-11, 4.18 ERA, 202 IP, 179 K
SP Alexi Ogando 14-9, 3.34 ERA, 189 IP, 148 K
SP Neftali Feleiz 13-8, 3.27 ERA, 182 IP, 147 K
SP Derek Holland 15-7, 4.10 ERA, 200 IP, 168 K
SP Matt Harrison 13-12, 3.97 ERA, 190 IP, 141 K
SP Yu Darvish 14-9, 3.83 ERA, 183 IP, 167 K
RP Joe Nathan 3.09 ERA, 29 saves, 55 IP, 62 K
RP Koji Uehara 2.70 ERA, 4 saves, 57 IP, 77 K
3rd Place: Seattle Mariners (My prediction 73-89)
After the Angels and Rangers, the Mariners and Athletics will be left to battle things out for the third spot in the division. I’m going to give the edge to the Mariners, because I don’t think their offense can be as bad as it was in 2011 again. They only averaged 3.43 runs per game last year, worst in major league baseball. It led to a 67-95 record.
Chone Figgins underperformed last year, hitting on .188 with 1 homer. The Mariners paid him $9.5 million last year.
Ichiro Suzuki also underperformed, only hitting .272 with 5 HR. It was the first year in his major league career that he didn’t hit over .300 and collect at least 200 hits in a season. Maybe he pressed too much, trying to ignite an offense that was powerless. At any rate, manager Eric Wedge has pledged to bat Ichiro Suzuki third this season while moving Chone Figgins to the leadoff spot.
The Mariners also finally acquired a big bat, albeit a prospect bat in Jesus Montero. No Mariners player hit over 20 home runs last year. Montero has that kind of power. He hit 21 homers in AAA in 2010, and 22 split between AAA and the Yankees last year. Prior to 2011, he was ranked as the #3 prospect in the MLB.
I think that the Mariners will see a small improvement in 2012, because they can’t be that bad for two years in a row? Can they?
As a side note, I also I can’t wait to go here:
And stay here. I love Washington state. It’s on my list of places to live after I finally get sick of Pennsylvania.
2012 Statistical Projections:
C Miguel Olivo .236-11-59
1B Justin Smoak .258-22-80
2B Dustin Ackley .271-9-55
3B Chone Figgins .255-2-28
SS Brendan Ryan .243-3-51
LF Trayvon Robinson .241-8-48
CF Franklin Gutierrez .241-4-33
RF Ichiro Suzuki .287-6-46
DH Mike Carp .276-15-56
DH Jesus Montero .292-14-51
SP Felix Hernandez 14-12, 2.97 ERA, 234 IP, 218 K
SP Jason Vargas 9-12, 4.22 ERA, 181 IP, 114 K
SP Blake Beavan 9-12, 4.48 ERA, 175 IP, 91 K
SP Charlie Furbush 8-13, 4.07 ERA, 166 IP, 115 K
RP Brandon League 3.21 ERA, 32 Saves, 67 IP, 52 K
RP George Sherrill 3.99 ERA, 1 save, 48 IP, 44 K
4th Place: Oakland Athletics (My prediction: 68-94)
The Oakland Athletics looked to be in full blown rebuilding mode for 2012, trading away their ace pitcher Gio Gonzalez to the Nationals and their closer Andrew Bailey to the Red Sox. However, they surprised everyone in baseball when they swooped in and signed Cuban defector Yoenis Cespedes to a six year contract. Cespedes figures to have every change to earn a spot as a starter on the opening day roster. I just want to see him take some batting practice. He looks like he could be a beast in BP.
The Athletics also raised eyebrows when they signed Manny Ramirez to a minor league contract. Ramirez, if he performs well, will likely make the team after serving a 50 game suspension for performance enhancing drugs. Personally, I don’t think Ramirez has anything left and will be a bust. Luckily for the A’s, they will only lose about $330,000 on the deal if he fails miserably.
If Manny wasn’t enough, the A’s also have another potentially washed up pitcher in Bartolo Colon, also trying to make the squad. Colon was out of baseball before having a medical breakthrough surgery on his elbow with stem cells to rejuvenate his career.
It might be just me, but I think it will be a tough year for the A’s, although they will have lots of media attention with Ramirez and Cespedes.
2012 Statistical Predictions:
C Kurt Suzuki .244-14-53
1B Daric Barton .250-4-39
2B Jemile Weeks .305-3-50
3B Scott Sizemore .249-10-51
SS Cliff Pennington .290-9-64
LF Michael Taylor .253-9-58
CF Collin Cowgill .254-10-45
RF Josh Reddick .264-14-76
OF Yoenis Cespedes .273-18-74 (rotochamp prediction)
DH Brandon Allen .240-12-39
DH Manny Ramirez .273-12-42 (rotochamp prediction)
SP Brandon McCarthy 12-10, 3.36 ERA, 212 IP, 158 K
SP Guillermo Moscoso 11-13, 3.56 ERA, 167 IP, 98 K
SP Dallas Braden 9-10, 3.79 ERA, 145 IP, 92 K
SP Jarrod Parker 8-9, 4.08 ERA, 141 IP, 115 K
SP Tyson Ross 7-9, 3.99 ERA, 122 IP, 89 K
SP Bartolo Colon 6-9, 4.20 ERA, 143 IP, 116 K
RP Brian Fuentes 3.25 ERA, 28 saves, 53 IP, 42 K
RP Grant Balfour 2.72 ERA, 1 save, 60 IP, 57 K
So, to review, I’ve got:
I think it’ll be a two tiered race though, with the Angels/Rangers battling for first, while the Mariners and A’s duke it out for third.
How do you think they’ll finish?
There’s only 42 days until opening day, 9 days until the first broadcasted game on MLB TV (Yankees vs Phillies), and 4 more days to win a Phillies shirt.