Saturday, March 15, 2008

'08 RAPs: Final AL West Rundown and Predictions

After covering the Angels, Mariners, Athletics, and Rangers this past week, it is finally time to make my final predictions for the 2008 AL Western Division. But first, let's break down the division by pitching and offense.

4. Rangers:
You know your rotation is in bad shape when your ace is Kevin Millwood. The Rangers are relying on Jason Jennings to bounce back in a big way to have a somewhat decent rotation. However, the good news for Rangers fans is the fact they they managed to pick up both Blake Beavan and Micheal Main in last years draft, giving them two big pitching prospects on the way.
The Rangers bullpen is young and promising; however, don't be surprised if C.J. Wilson or Joaquin Benoit are flipped at the deadline.
3. Athletics:
The A's rotation could get significantly worse if Joe Blanton is dealt anytime soon. Then the A's would be fully relying on Rich Harden to stay healthy in order to win 70games this season. Since Blanton is still an A though, the A's still have a better rotation than the Rangers.
The A's also have a good pen; but, that could very well fall apart it Huston Street can't remain healthy.
2. Mariners:
The acquisition of Erik Bedard has put the Mariners rotation over the top. If King Felix produces like he did at the beginning of 2007 and Erik Bedard duplicates his 2007 season, the Mariners could have a special season.
Also, keeping up the trend of trying to repeat their '07 magic, J.J. Putz will be trying to, once again be among the top players in the game.
1. Angels:
With the addition of Jon Garland, the Angels have one of the top three rotations in baseball. If Ervin Santana performs half as well as last year, there will be no stopping the Angels at all.
And of course, K-Rod is K-Rod, so the Angels pen is in fine shape as well.

4. Athletics:
After losing Nick Swisher, the core of the A's offense last year, the A's seem to be done. Unless of course, Jack Cust improves greatly AND Mike Sweeney returns to the form he was in in his prime.
3. Mariners:
Outside of Ichiro, I don't see much production coming from the Mariners offense. Sexson and Ibanez will continue to age as usual. The only way for the M's to have a decent offense is if Ichiro hits for as much power in the game as he apparently does in BP.
2. Rangers:
The Rangers have a great young offense. If Josh Hamilton and Jarrod Saltalamacchia use their great potential properly and Milton Bradley stays out of trouble, the ever consistent Michael Young and company will be very good this year.
1. Angels:
After signing Torri Hunter this off-season to compliment Vlad Guerrero and company, the Angels stay ahead of the rest of the division in the offensive department.

Final Predictions:

1. Angels, 98-64
2. Mariners, 88-74
3. Athletics, 72-90
4. Rangers, 70-92

Division MVP: Vlad Guerrero; nothing much to say about this pick. He's the best player on the best team.
Runner Up: Torri Hunter
Divisional CY-Young: Felix Hernandez; hopefully for King Felix he will put his past injury problems behind him, allowing him to finally show why he was brought up to the majors at such a young age.
Runner Up: John Lackey

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