The Houston Astros are the new face in the West, but don’t expect them to be contenders for a few years. This is one of the stronger divisions in baseball with the Rangers and Angels leading the way.
But the surprising Athletics upset both of the favorites last year to win the division. The thought here, though, is that the Rangers re-establish themselves as the top team. Here’s a look at the West, in predicted order of finish.
2012 season: 93-69 (second, AL West; lost in Wild Card round)
New faces: DH Lance Berkman; C A.J. Pierzynski; RHPs Jason Frasor, Joakim Soria, Josh Lindblom.
2013 outlook: They lost two staples in Josh Hamilton and Michael Young, but still have a potent lineup with Adrian Beltre and Nelson Cruz in the middle. And the rotation is young and talented with Matt Harrison and Yu Darvish leading the way. The big question is how well the bullpen will hold up.
L.A. Angels of Anaheim
2012 season: 89-73 (third, AL West)
New faces: OF Josh Hamilton, LHP Jason Vargas, RHPs Joe Blanton, Tommy Hanson and Ryan Madson.
2013 outlook: There might not be a better offense with Mike Trout, Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton in the middle. But the pitching staff has more questions than answers.
2012 season: 94-68 (first, AL West; lost in ALDS)
New faces: SS Hiroyuki Nakajima, OF Chris Young, INF Jed Lowrie, C John Jaso.
2013 outlook: They have a young and talented roster, both pitching-wise (Jarrod Parker and A.J. Griffin) and offensively (Yoenis Cespedes). But it’s hard to see them making a similar run as they did last season.
2012 season: 75-87 (fourth, AL West)
New faces: OF Jason Bay, OF/1B Michael Morse, OF Raul Ibanez, 1B Kendrys Morales, C Kelly Shoppach.
2013 outlook: They wisely signed Felix Hernandez to a long-term deal and also bolstered their lineup by bringing in Bay, Ibanez, Morse and Morales. They will be better, but appear to be a .500 team at best.
2012 season: 55-107 (sixth, NL Central)
New faces: 1B/DH Carlos Pena, RHP Philip Humber, OF Rick Ankiel.
2013 outlook: With a payroll projected to be less than $30 million, the Astros are projected for a third straight 100-loss season.
— Fort Worth Star-Telegram