Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
The American League West Division gets a bit bigger in 2013 thanks to the addition of the Houston Astros.
The Astros could well be parked at the bottom of their new division.
The top figures to be almost as close as last year. However, the Texas Rangers are now at a distinct disadvantage with the absence of three key contributors: Michael Young, Mike Napoli and Josh Hamilton.
The Oakland A's bring back a team similar to the one seen in 2012. The Los Angeles Angels, however, made several key acquisitions, most notably free-agent outfielder Hamilton.
Here is the Angels' projected lineup for next season:
1. Mike Trout LF
2. Erick Aybar SS
3. Albert Pujols 1B
4. Josh Hamilton RF
5. Mark Trumbo DH
6. Howie Kendrick 2B
7. Alberto Callaspo 3B
8. Chris Iannetta Catcher
9. Peter Bourjos CF
1. Jered Weaver
2. C.J. Wilson
3. Tommy Hanson
4. Joe Blanton
5. Jason Vargas
The bullpen is much improved as well with the additions of Ryan Madson and Sean Burnett. Ernesto Frieri, Scott Downs and Kevin Jepsen all return, and Garrett Richards and/or Jerome Williams will help in middle/long relief.
Angels manager Mike Scioscia has plenty of options with his lineup. With Vernon Wells still in the picture, matchups can be exploited in certain situations. In addition, Trumbo can spell both corner outfielders, along with Pujols at first base.
It's possible that Kendrick could be the No. 2 hitter; that decision could be decided in spring training.
In any event, the Angels will have a very explosive offense—one that could make up for any deficiencies in the starting rotation. And the offense could be more than enough to carry them to the AL West title.