Rangers, Angels prepare to battle
2. Los Angeles (wild card)
While the Los Angeles Angels upped the ante in the AL West by signing the ultimate free agent, Albert Pujols, and by signing away the Rangers’ best pitcher, C.J. Wilson, the Rangers didn’t blink. Texas remains the best team in the division with a lineup featuring Michael Young, Josh Hamilton and Ian Kinsler, although the gap is narrowing. Texas invested $111.7 million to replace Wilson in the rotation with Yu Darvish from Japan. They also moved Neftali Feliz, their closer the past two seasons, into the rotation.
Pujols provides a huge presence in the Angels’ lineup, but with little support he may find himself trotting to first base, or chasing less desirable pitches this season. But the Angels won 86 games without King Albert and with a bullpen that blew 25 saves. Expect a much-improved bullpen this season. The rotation, of course, is one of the best if not the best in the American League. Jered Weaver, Dan Haren and Wilson are all Cy Young candidates.
The Seattle Mariners and Oakland A’s are miles behind their competitors.
Best Starting Pitcher: Dan Haren, Los Angeles
Best Hitter: Albert Pujols, Los Angeles
Best Manager: Mike Scioscia, Los Angeles
Rising Star: Mike Trout, Los Angeles
Most wins next five years (2013-17)
1. Los Angeles
— Charlie Miller
Follow Charlie on Twitter @AthlonCharlie