(This is one post in a series of posts where I will be predicting the outcome of each MLB division. The final post will include full 2016 MLB postseason predictions.)
Last year, all the talking heads had the Seattle Mariners playing the Washington Nationals in the World Series. A complete swing and miss. Not even close. The Mariners sucked and the Nationals…well they kind of sucked too. For what it’s worth, I never thought the 2015 Mariners were going to make the World Series. I thought they had a weak bullpen. And as it turned out, they did have a weak bullpen and lost a bunch of close games during the season. And it didn’t help that Robinson Cano struggled while playing hurt for half the season. Houston finally emerged with a strong young core in 2015, after a calculated rebuilding process. The Rangers made a run in the second half and overtook the Astros to win the freaking division. The Angels lagged behind the two Titans from Texas and the A’s stunk. Here’s what I see in 2016:
AL West: 1) Houston Astros (x) 2) Texas Rangers (wc) 3) LA Angels 4) Seattle Mariners 5) Oakland A’s
Houston is my AL World Series pick. I love the addition of Ken Giles as their closer. Really bolsters that bullpen. Carlos Correa is going to get MVP votes. Dallas Keuchel could win Cy Young again. They even added Doug Fister on the cheap which is a nice get for their rotation. If they need another arm midseason, they will trade for it.
Texas is a close second to Houston in the AL West. They had the third ranked offense in 2015, so this team is in no way offensively challenged. They had bad starting pitching last season, but I love Yu Darvish being back from his TJ surgery. Plus Cole Hamels is a real strong veteran winner that they incorporated into their rotation at the trade deadline last season. I like their chances of being a well rounded club all season long in 2016, and I see them snagging a Wild Card spot.
I really don’t like the rest of the division. The Angels are such jerks for letting Mike Trout waste away in his prime. They got Andrelton Simmons! Hooray! Now they have the best defensive SS. He certainly doesn’t protect Trout in the lineup. And they needed another outfielder because the platoon of Daniel Nava and Craig Gentry doesn’t cut it for a winning team. Jered Weaver is throwing 79 MPH batting practice fastballs this spring and has a mild spine condition aka Stage 1 Wright’s Syndrome. The career of C.J. Wilson has long been over. RIP Angels. Mike Scioscia is not a fan of advanced metrics and all those “analyticians” as he calls them. Well this year even the conventional stats will say the Angels stink.
Mariners made tons of moves this offseason. I think they added a bunch of mediocre pieces to replace a bunch of mediocre pieces. No net improvement in my eyes. I like the Nori Aoki addition to the outfield and Adam Lind has some pop. They added a couple mooks to their bullpen. Everyone seemingly loves that they acquired Wade Miley from the Red Sox for their rotation. Umm Miley is back end of the rotation garbage. Last season they were the pre-season World Series favorite. Whoops! I don’t see them being in the race this season either.
Oakland loves making moves to fake compete. They acquired Khris Davis from the Brewers. They re-acquired Jed Lowrie for SS. They even copied the popular formula of building a stacked bullpen by adding Ryan Madson and John Axford among others. And I am pretty sure all those pen arms will be available at the trade deadline when Billy Beane is holding his annual reliever rummage sale. They stunk last year, and they gonna stink this season. They should have never traded Yoenis Cespedes for Jon Lester in 2014. Beane blew it. Moneyball baby!
Other Divisional Predictions: