The Mariners are this year's sexy pick to go deep into the postseason. I don't think so.
|Should be enough for a flawed division.|
Why the Angels Should Win: They don't have the best pitcher in the division, but if Wilson rebounds from last year and Richards is truly recovered from his torn tendon, it's the best overall staff. Jared Weaver heads the pitching, Shoemaker is a rising star, and Santiago has serious stuff if he learns to use it.
We keep waiting for Albert Pujols to be AL awesome and this, I think, will be that year. Mike Trout is the reigning MVP and there's help throughout the lineup: Aybar, Ianetta, Freese, Calhoun….
Why the Angels Might Not Win: There's the impending distraction of Josh Hamilton, plus this the Angels consistently underachieve. And, as I say every year, I'm not fan of any pitcher with the last name of Weaver in important games.
Team Most Likely to Surprise: The Houston Astros. They're probably a year or two away, but their minor league system is loaded and there's already some very good young talent on this team. Think the Mariners' Robbie Cano is the best second baseman in baseball? Maybe, but check out the Astros' José Altuve before you decide. They also have lots of other guys who can pound the ball—Carter, Gattis, Rasmus, Lowrie…. If the 'Stros improve their on-base percentages, they are going to score lots of runs. And when you look up their pitching records, ignore the won-loss records and take a look at those low ERAs. I don't think 2015 will be their year, but it wouldn't shock me to see them emerge as this year's KC Royals
Team Most Likely to Disappoint: The Seattle Mariners. Yes, they have a potent 1-2 staff in Felix Harnandez and Hisashi Iwakuma. After that, nothing but questions and prayers. (Haven't we seen enough of J. A. Happ to know he's no one's # 3?) Robbie Cano is a future Hall of Famer and Kyle Seager is the league's best third baseman, but count me among those who doubt that Nelson Cruz will do well in Seattle's hitter-unfriendly confines. But even if all of the previous three perform up to par there's the problem of not having a legit MLB catcher on the roster and that players such as Smith, Ackley, and Morrison don't get on base enough. Richie Weeks as your left fielder? Doubtful. Austin Jackson—flash in the pan? I suspect it.
Team Most Likely to Suck: That would be the Oakland A's. Can we just start the "Billy Beane-is-really-an-idiot" chants now and skip the season? Between mid-season 2014 and now he's traded away one of MLB's best teams and got what? Let's see he traded an All-Star for Brett Lawrie, the poster child for wasted promise. He raided the offense-challenged Rays and Mets for run production (Zobrist, Fuld, Ike Davis) and that can't be good. Think Kazmir will win 15 games again this year? That Parker will be lights-out after Tommy John surgery? Even if Sonny Gray continues his rise, he'll need to hurl shutouts to win.
1. Los Angeles Angels: Or do I mean the Anaheim Angels? This team is too balanced for the question mark lineups that permeate this division.
2. Seattle Mariners: A soft pick for second that's based on having just enough great players to compete, though too few to complete.
3. Houston Astros: Call it a hunch. It wouldn't surprise me to see them finish second, nor would it shock me if they're just too young this year and sink.
4. Texas Rangers: If Darvish were healthy, I'd like this team more. He's not and despite players such as Beltré, Fielder, Choo, and Andrus, you can't rely on winning a lot of 8-6 games.
5. Oakland A's: I used to admire this team. Now I think they're just cast-offs led by a fraud general manager, playing in MLB's worst stadium in one of America's worst cities.