The Texas Rangers cruised to their second-straight AL West title last season with a 10-game lead over Los Angeles. After that it was not even close with Oakland finishing 22 games out of first and Seattle winning just 67 games to finish 29 games behind the Rangers.
Well in 2012 there is a new sheriff in town and his name is Albert Pujols; the most sought after free agent in the past few years. His decision to sign with the Angels directly upends the balance of power in the division according to the preseason odds. While it is still a two-team race, Los Angeles is now clearly the favorite to win the title this season.
The following is a brief preview of all four teams in the AL West along with their current future odds as provided by WagerWeb.
Los Angeles Angels
Projected 2012 Win Total: 92.5
Odds to Win the American League: +315
Odds to Win the 2012 World Series: +600
The addition of Pujols takes the Angels from being a good solid ballclub to a legitimate contender to win the American League this season. LA also closed the gap in the division by signing former Rangers’ starter C.J. Wilson to help bolster its starting rotation. Given the fact that the Angels had the lowest team ERA in the AL last season at 3.57, adding Wilson is like adding the icing on the cake.
Pujols and Wilson should help the Angels eclipse last season’s 86-win total, but it will remain a close, hard-fought battle with Texas all season long for the division title. If both players can live-up to incredible hype and expectations that have been put upon them, then LA comes out on top in the end.
Projected 2012 Win Total: 91.5
Odds to Win the American League: +450
Odds to Win the 2012 World Series: +800
Texas main focus this offseason was to add a few quality arms to a pitching staff that was ranked fourth in the AL last season with a team ERA of 3.79. The most interesting move was to sign right hander Yu Darvish from Japan as a possible replacement for Wilson. This could turn out to be one of the best offseason moves if everything goes right, but only time will tell.
The Rangers’ lineup remain basically intact from last year’s squad that led the AL in hitting with a .283 team batting average and scored the third-most runs with 855. Given the consistency in this group of hitters, Texas will be in every game they play even if there are some breakdowns in the pitching staff.
Projected 2012 Win Total: 71.5
Odds to Win the American League: +4500
Odds to Win the 2012 World Series: +8000
Money Ball is still alive and in-play in Oakland, but you seriously have to question whether or not it is actually working after this team’s slide last season. Staying true to form, it decided to gut itself of even more talent this past offseason.
The Athletics pitching staff took a major hit with the departure of Gio Gonzalez and Trevor Cahill. The outfield now has two gaping holes with Hideki Matsui and Josh Willingham gone as well. Unless a good number of players on the remaining roster decide to all have career years at the same time, look for Oakland to slide even further in the standings this season.
Projected 2012 Win Total: 72
Odds to Win the American League: +6500
Odds to Win the 2012 World Series: +11500
After winning just 67 games with a pitching staff that had a respectable team ERA of 3.90 and a lineup that was ranked dead-last in the AL in hitting with a .233 team batting average and a woeful 556 runs, Seattle decided to trade its top pitching prospect, Michael Pineda to the Yankees for their top prospect, catcher Jesus Montero.
Desperate times call for desperate measures, but none of the Mariners’ offseason moves will be enough to keep them out of the AL West basement for the third-straight season, unless the A’s sink lower than expected. The bright spot on the horizon is that the Houston Astros join the division next season.
DJ is a freelance writer that concentrates on his true passion in life; the world of sports. He produces a number of articles each week for BangTheBook.com as well as a select group of other websites that specialize in providing the most up-to-date information for the sports gaming industry. His goal is to write insightful articles on a wide variety of sporting topics that can provide an edge to today's sophisticated online player.