Monday, April 14, 2008

AL West 2008 Predictions

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim - 90 wins
Seattle Mariners - 84 wins
Oakland Athletics - 75 wins
Texas Rangers - 71 wins

LAA: I know people always say the Angels need to add someone to protect Vladimir Guerrero (.312 EqA - Equivalent Average), but the L.A. of A lineup isn't that shabby. You have Shawn Sean Chone Figgins (.289 EqA, .393 OBP - on base percentage, 41 stolen bases) leading off, with some zing by Casey Kotchman (119 OPS+), Torii Hunter (122 OPS+ - adjusted OPS), and Mike Napoli (107 OPS+ as a catcher). The pitching is a little more pedestrian, with John Lackey (151 ERA+ - adjusted ERA) pretty much the ace of the staff. If Jered Weaver (6.4 K/9 - strikeouts per 9 innings, 2.56 K/BB - strikeout to walk ratio) and Irvin Santana (7.6 K/9, 2.17 K/BB) can improve their control, you have a solid rotation.

SEA: Outside of Ichiro Suzuki (122 OPS+), this is a team that won't hit for average or walk a lot, but they could (possibly) provide some pop (home runs, not soda). Adrian Beltre (.273 EqA) and Richie Sexson (.240 EqA) have the potential to be dangerous, and even if they wind up tame, they can still provide about 20-25 home runs each. Jose Vidro (.277 EqA) will probably fall to earth a bit. Seattle is a bit overrated in their pitching with the acquisition of Erik Bedard (10.9 K/9, 3.88 K/BB), as Felix Hernandez (7.8 K/9, 3.11 K/BB) is the only other starting pitcher that is any decent. Carlos Silva doesn't walk (1.6 BB/9 - walks per 9 innings, 4.0 K/9) doesn't walk a lot, but he doesn't strikeout a lot, either, and that could be a concern. Maybe in a three team division, they would take the AL West, but there are a staggering four teams, and I give the edge to Los Anaheimelous, as is my right.

OAK: Jack Cust (147 OPS+) and Daric Barton (186 OPS+ in 18 games) looked sexy last year, but there's not much else to inspire confidence in the bats. Travis Buck (.295 EqA)? Maybe, but for a team that used to be known for on base percentage, half of the Oakland line-up couldn't take a walk if it was giftwrapped and ballgagged. Joe Blanton (.301 OBPA - on base percentage against, 3.5 K/BB) and Rich Harden (.290 OBPA, 9.5 K/9) are the only good starters. Huston Street (11.3 K/9, 5.25 K/BB) would make a good closer if he could stay healthy. Kind of a dumb first name, too.

TEX: One of the best line-ups in the AL West (after the Angels and maybe the Mariners) is marred by an atrocious pitching staff. The acquisition of fantasy crush Josh Hamilton (.294 EqA, 19 HR in 90 games) is a nice addition to an above average offense. Ian Kinsler (.276 EqA) is good to have at a time when quality second basemen are hard to find in MLB. Anyway, I don't want to bore myself with Texas' offense, because I want to spend some time making fun of their rotation. Kevin Millwood (.366 OBPA). Vincente Padilla (.373 OBPA). Brandon McCarthy (.355 OBPA). They'd somehow find a way to give up 20 walks to the Athletics. Jason Jennings (2.09 K/BB) is the only starter who's K/BB ratio is slightly higher than even. C.J. Wilson (8.3 K/9) could be decent in the bullpen, but it's not like Texas is going to hand off many games with a lead. Although they did acquire Hamilton, they would have been better off with Edinson Volquez. Shit, they would have been better off keeping Adrian Gonzalez and Chris Young instead of trading for Adam Eaton, but that's obvious. They also traded Alfonso Soriano for Brad Wilkerson and Terrmel Sledge, and like a minor league pitcher. So I guess they got some pitching after all.

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