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2013 Preview: The American League West

Mar 27, 2013, 11:03 AM EDT

Josh Hamilton

For the past few days we’ve been previewing the 2013 season. Here, in handy one-stop-shopping form, is our package of previews from the American League West.

For the second straight year the Los Angeles Angels have signed the biggest slugger on the free agent market. This time, however, we feel like it’s going to finally work.  Josh Hamilton, Albert Pujols, Mike Trout, and Mark Trumbo form a potent core. Jered Weaver is an ace. There may be some issues with the rest of the pitching staff, but we’re liking the Angels’ chances.

Not to sell the Rangers short. They’re sort of retrenching this year, transitioning off of Josh Hamilton and preparing to integrate youngsters Jurickson Profar and Mike Olt into the lineup either late this year or as 2014 kicks off, but they’re still an insanely talented team that, for whatever reason, people always want to sleep on until, once again, they’re in the playoffs.

How did the A’s do it last year? We have no idea. But they’re trying to do it again this year and, as always, the proceedings will be an exercise in plate-spinning, smoke, mirrors and unexpectedly good performances from guys everyone else gave up on at some point.

The Mariners are on the right track, but still a work in progress.

American League newcomers the Houston Astros will pop champagne corks if they don’t lose 100 games. And given how thoroughly they’ve torn down in order to rebuild, it will be an accomplishment worth celebrating if it does indeed come to pass.

Below are our team-by-team previews of the AL West, followed by our HBT Extra feature on the division. Enjoy!

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  1. gigab0t - Mar 27, 2013 at 11:08 AM

    excellent picture choice

  2. 13arod - Mar 27, 2013 at 11:12 AM

    4 allstar hitters can’t wait to see dodgers and angles face each other

  3. Tick - Mar 27, 2013 at 11:35 AM

    Can’t wait to watch the A’s win the west again by outpitching everyone else.

    • pauleee - Mar 27, 2013 at 12:09 PM

      Out Tick! Out!

      Looks for kerosene, tweezers

    • scatterbrian - Mar 27, 2013 at 12:53 PM

      Funny, neither the Angels nor the Rangers really improved since last year, while the team that beat them did.

      • clydeserra - Mar 27, 2013 at 1:50 PM

        I am an A’s fan. I am not booking division series tickets now.

        The Angels essentially swapped Hunters production for hamilton. they got vargas, who should be better than late season Haren. they didn’t do much, but they did improve a little.

        The Rangers should have their pitching back, but their line up is so so.

        The A’s lost some big bench bats, but relying on Moss and Donaldson to repeat their performance (in Donaldson’s case, the second half performance) is suspect at best. the pitching is about the same, the bench is a little weaker.

        Between the three, I think its a toss up on paper. Injuries will lose it for one or two.

      • hardballtalkusername - Mar 27, 2013 at 5:25 PM

        Not sure why you are getting some thumbs down clydeserra, I think that analysis is spot on. The team that improved the most in the division is the Mariners, but not enough to win the division

      • scatterbrian - Mar 27, 2013 at 8:45 PM

        Reposting from the A’s preview:

        Practically everyone is predicting the A’s to be a third place team. While it appears they were lucky with so many walk-off wins, they were actually one of the most balanced teams in baseball. The A’s were over .500 at home and on the road, vs. every division and vs. interleague, in extra inning games, in 1-run games, vs. RH and LH starters, and vs. both sub-.500 and .500+ teams. The only other team to do that was Washington (SF, Cincinnati, New York, and Baltimore all came close.). They improved their lineup over the course of the season, and they appear to have gotten better over the winter. You can’t really say that about their main competition.
        Texas sputtered this winter. They lose Hamilton and Napoli (and Young!) and replace that with Pierzynski (who had a career year at 35) and a couple of rookies, one of whom (Profar) doesn’t have a position. They do have a very good 1-2 punch at the top of the rotation, and a very solid bullpen. However, they also lost Uehara and could move another key reliever into the rotation, further diluting a strength. I’m not sure how the Rangers leapfrogged the A’s.
        Meanwhile, Anaheim did not improve their starting pitching (Blanton, Vargas, and Hanson vs. Haren, Santana, Greinke/J. Williams) or their bullpen that struggled last season. The one big move they made was getting Hamilton, whose 139 OPS+ isn’t much better than the departing Hunter’s 132. I don’t see what the Angels did to jump ahead either.

      • hardballtalkusername - Mar 27, 2013 at 9:54 PM

        The Angels improved their bullpen by adding Burnett and IF Madson is healthy he would also improve things.

      • jarathen - Mar 28, 2013 at 7:55 AM

        Keep in mind that the Angels did not have Trout for the first month last year. They lost Vernon Wells and Torii Hunter and will get more production from Bourjos and Hamilton.

        I understand the arguments that Hunter was roughly as good as Hamilton last year, but he adds a left-handed presence to the lineup Hunter did not, as well as more power, and Hunter had a better year than one could normally expect from him.

  4. palmersports - Mar 27, 2013 at 8:30 PM check out my blog!

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