2011 MLB Predictions: Why the Texas Rangers Will Capture the AL West
2011 MLB Predictions Have A's Looking Stronger, but Will it Be Enough?
After a great 2010 season that saw the Texas Rangers meet up with the San Francisco Giants in the World Series, it all looked like a lock for the club to repeat as AL West champs this year in a weak division, right?
One Cliff Lee gone and one disgruntled Michael Young later, the Rangers aren't looking as hot as they were before.
Not to mention the A's have revamped as much as a Moneyball team can revamp, with a new 3-4-5 batting order of David DeJesus, Josh Willingham, and Hideki Matsui.
They also have stellar pitching, with a starting rotation that includes Trevor Cahill, Brett Anderson, Gio Gonzalez and Dallas Braden, and a bullpen that includes top closer Andrew Bailey, Brian Fuentes and new pickup Grant Balfour.
It is for this reason that some experts have the A's actually winning the division.
But I'm not as convinced.
One reason Young's frown isn't as alarming as last season for the club is because they signed top free agent third baseman Adrian Beltre, who trumps DeJesus, Willingham, and Matsui any day.
They also have the promising Mitch Moreland at first base.
So their offense isn't that much worse off, at least in the infield. Of course they also lost Vladimir Guerrero, which could be troubling if Young doesn't want to be a DH this season, but that's why they picked up Mike Napoli, too.
And their pitching is back to being suspect beyond C.J. Wilson and Colby Lewis.
But youngster Derek Holland could have a breakout year this season. He has strikeout stuff if he can stay healthy, unlike last year.
And if pickup Brandon Webb can contribute, that would only boost the team's chances with a legit No. 4 starter.
They could also start Neftali Feliz if worse comes to worse, something they have tinkered with, but it's hard to take a guy away from a role that he excelled in.
But I'm with Yahoo! Sports' David Brown: "And, assuming they would be the apparent heirs, have the Oakland Athletics improved that much?"
Brown still picked the A's to win the division, but he probably should have listened to what he said more closely.
I am just not that thrilled about the A's being a division winner; even with the upgrades the team has made on offense, it still is hard for me to not see the Rangers' offense producing more wins.
But I'm expecting this one to go neck-and-neck.
Check out Nick Carlo's pick for the AL West crown, who is going against the grain so to speak.
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