Six Division Predictions in Six Days - AL West

My 90 year old father is suffering from memory loss, can’t remember his grand daughters or current girlfiend’s name or how his wife passed away, but knows the three alpha code for every stock that sweeps across the bottom of the television screen on the financial markets. Myworld wonders how much longer he will make money with his investments and at what point do we cut his profits before his fading memory turns them to losses.

If myworld can make predictions as accurate as my father’s investments despite his fading memory we will be quite happy with the results. After all, we do have some of his genes. This will be the first of six division predictions. We can’t really promise they will be done in six days, but before the official start of the season.

1. Texas Rangers - They should have Yu Darvish back on the mound for the stretch run giving them perhaps the best one/two punch in the starting rotation of this division with Cole Hamels being the second ace. They need to find pitchers to cover spots three to five. They have depth at a number of places. Joey Gallo was sent down to the minors in hopes that he will find his power back early in the minor league season. The signing of Ian Desmond for left field made him dispensable when roster decisions were ironed out. Where Josh Hamilton plays when he returns from his knee injury is a mystery. Designated hitter would be the logical answer but Prince Fielder fits like a non-glove there. Adrian Beltre is getting up there in experience so Joey could find himself a roster spot later in the season to rotate between DH, third base, first base and the corner outfields. Catcher has no big names so expect the Rangers to pursue one in the stretch run and Mitch Moreland is not an elite offensive player for first base so Prince can put on his iron glove and hope his offense overcomes his ruthless defense. The bullpen is composed of a number of no name arms. Shawn Tolleson will start the season as the closer, but Tony Barnett is an option after leading the NPB last year in saves. Elvis Andrus has a big contract but with his glove and bat at short he fits below more than 15 teams with his production.

2. Houston Astros (Wild Card) - Carlos Correa was raking during spring, with consistent bat on ball contact. Don’t be surprised if he wins MVP this year. The Astros get all 5 feet and six inches from Jose Altuve at second base. He could be the best leadoff hitter in the National League. With a regular position Marwin Gonzalez could hit 20 plus homeruns. He may be one of the best utility players in the National League. If Colby Rasmus can reach his potential with the bat the Astro outfield will be formidable with Carlos Gomez and George Springer giving them three players who can play both offense and defense. Jonathan Singleton is losing the job at first base to A.J. Reed and may be a better fit in the DH spot. That could be an opening until Evan Gattis comes back from his hernia surgery. Catching is a bit of a hole if the bat of Jason Castro continues to lag. The weak starting staff lacks a comfortable ace as everyone waits for Dallas Keuchel to falter and Colin McHugh struggle to retire hitters consistently. Lance McCullers has ace like stuff but his second spring in the rotation was marred by a sore arm and he could start the season on the DL. If Doug Fister has a bounce back year they can take a little back sliding from Keuchel and McHugh. The Astos paid a lot for Ken Giles to close but early in the spring he had trouble putting up zeros on the score board. He should be fine once the season starts. Luke Gregerson is a better fit as a setup guy.

3. Seattle Mariners - The rotation headed by Felix Hernandez should be strong. Taijuan Walker and James Paxton are two young pitchers with lots of upside. Hisashi Iwakuma keeps dropping in velocity and at one point will have trouble retiring hitters. The offense will have trouble providing them with runs. Nelson Cruz bat may be slower as the years progress but he will still bomb a lot of balls over the fence from the DH spot. Robinson Cano has yet to complete a full season with solid numbers. He is the one veteran player they have up the middle with Leonys Martin, Ketel Marte and Chris Iannetta failures with other teams or unproven youngsters. The outfield lacks juice and first base is uninspiring. The bullpen went from best to worst from 2014 to 2015 and looks to be more like the latter in 2016, relying on Steve Cishek, who failed as a closer with the Marlins. Kyle Seager may end up their one consistent bat in the lineup not prone to slumps as he handles third base.

4. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim - Still prefer the name Anaheim Angels. Like the Devil Rays they could turn the franchise around with a name change back to the original name. They have one super star in the lineup in Mike Trout, an aging super star with a slowing bat in Albert Pujols and a coming of age star in Kole Calhoun out in right field. Not too sure what other positions are going to generate offense and Pujols will be restricted to the DH spot to prevent injury. Andrelton Simmons will provide magic with the glove at short but the Angels have too many holes in the offense to tolerate his weak bat. Yunel Escobar is a nice bat when playing middle infield but at third his lack of power is a weakness. Garrett Richards has the potential to be an ace with his mid-90s fastball but it falls like a steep cliff after his spot in the rotation. The bullpen will have to eat a lot of innings when the starters fail to complete six. They lack the talent to survive big time exposure.

5. Oakland Athletics - Myworld is not too sure what Billy Bean was doing in putting together this team. They have one of the best pitchers in Sonny Gray who can win games with just a modicum of offense. The other representatives in the rotation are unproven and will probably be unable to win games with a stagnant offense. They are hoping for a successful return of Sean Doolittle as the closer or they will be looking at a bullpen by committee approach. It will be interesting to see if Khris Davis shows the power in the larger confines of the park in Oakland. His defense will not support a lack of pop in his bat. He could move to the DH spot if Billy Butler continues to provide minimal offense, paving the way for increased playing time for super utility player Chris Coghlan to get a lot of time in left field. Marcus Semien has to cut down on his thirty plus errors at short. His bat does not support a porous glove at a critical defensive position. Billy Burns could be a breakout player and be a building block for the centerfield and leadoff spot for the future. Josh Reddick fades from right field, looking for a extension in his contract when his offense has been all but invisible the last two years.

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