Friday, February 12, 2010

2010 Year in Preview: AL West Wrapup

AK and I have now put together a Year in Preview for the Mariners, the Athletics, the Angels of Anaheim and the Rangers. Feel free to take a look back and edumacute yourself on how these teams are going to look different in 2010. And make sure you bookmark this post, because we're about to make some sure-to-be-wrong predictions about the AL West in 2010, and it'll be fun to come back and mock us in the comments when we've been proven to be idiots. By May.

So we're going to do three things to wrap up the AL West. First, I'm going to name the guy that I consider to be the top prospect in the AL West. Second, I'm going to give you PECOTA's projected standings for the AL West. Finally, AK and I are going to make predictions for the AL West in 2010. Enjoy.

Top Prospect Neftali Feliz. Who else? We peeped this prospect back in April of 09, and he didn't disappoint in 2009. He put up a 3.49 ERA over 77.1 IP as a 21 year old in AAA. His K/9 checked in at 8.7, his WHIP was 1.280 and his K/BB ratio was a respectable 2.50. Upon getting called up to the Show, he posted a 1.74 ERA over 31 IP, striking out 11.3(!) batters per name, walking only 2.3 batters per nine, with a 0.677 WHIP. In short, dude was straight filthy. It'll be interesting to see what role the Rangers use him in in 2010, but I think it's safe to expect a very good year from Mr. Feliz.


Baseball Prospectus' PECOTA Projected Standings:

Texas Rangers - 87-75 - 826 RS, 760 RA - .278/.350/.464
LA Angels - 80-82 - 767 RS, 775 RA - .272/.341/.443
Oakland Athletics - 80-82 - 726 RS, 773 RA - .263/.343/.417
Seattle Mariners - 77-85 - 713 RS, 752 RA - .272/.345/.406

This is a different projection than what I expected. For one, it has the Rangers winning the AL West handily, by 7 games. It also has the Rangers as the only team in the AL West with a winning record. But most notably is that it projects the Mariners, even with their defensive improvement and improvement in pitching, to come in last place. While their RA total is the least in the AL West, PECOTA obviously doesn't see a whole lotta runs coming the M's way.

In Which AK and I make fools of ourselves:

My predicted standings for the AL West for 2010:
Seattle Mariners - 86-76
Texas Rangers - 84-78
LA Angels - 79-83
Oakland Athletics - 71-91

I truly expect the Mariners to be a run-preventing machine. Their outfield defense could be historically good, and if Bedard can give them solid production then I think you could see the Mariners make the playoffs. I doubt that the Rangers can pull it off. I'm skeptical of their injury-prone offense, and there is a lot of risk in that pitching staff. I laid out my concerns regarding the Angels in my Year In Preview piece, and I stand by that. I don't see the Angels winning the division, and I'm skeptical about their long-term prospects. Finally, while I love Oakland more than Adam, I think the A's are one-year away from being able to make a Seattle-type leap. But they're a darkhorse, to be sure.

AK's predicted standings for the AL West for 2010:
1.) Texas Rangers - (90-72) - Here's what I envision: Josh Hamilton comes back and has another outstanding year, Guerrero regains his form and has a solid year, and some of the young guns that the Rangers have really hit their stride. I know two things, this team can score runs, and I think their pitching will improve from last year.

2.) Seattle Mariners - (88-74) - With a rotation that features Felix Hernandez, Cliff Lee and Erik Bedard as your 1-2-3, you're going to be in decent shape, especially if Bedard can pitch like his old self (which he certainly has the motivation to do). Seattle's problem will likely be scoring runs, which is going to cause them to lose some games their pitching might have won them. There's no power in the lineup, just a bunch of good-OBP, speedy guys. The defense will be solid though and I see Seattle as a contender.

3.) Los Angeles Angels - (82-80) - Here's my prediction, Kazmir gets hurt, Santana continues to struggle and those two things doom the Angels. Here's the reality, the Angels have been in a mostly weak division for the last several years and, in my opinion, that changed this off-season. While the Mariners and Rangers got better, the Angels lost pieces of the puzzle. I see them struggling.

4.) Oakland Athletics - (75-87) - I did the write on these guys and honestly, I just don't see enough consistent talent there to compete in this division. Their starting rotation will be ok, the bullpen will be good, but scoring runs is going to be the handicap for this team. With the recent news that the Athletics are willing to watch Jack Cust walk away, the lineup appears to lack any power. I think Oakland could be good in a couple years, as their talent develops, but this year they are playing too many youngsters to compete in a division this strong.

The NL Central will be next.

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