Monday, March 24, 2014

2014 Predictions: AL West

As Yogi Berra is alleged to have said, it's tough to make predictions, especially about the future. These predictions for upcoming season are going to be pretty quick and dirty. You don't want to spend a lot of time reading them anyway, do you? Unlike other prognosticators, though, I'll revisit these to see how badly I did.

Since baseball games are the product of runs scored and runs allowed, I'm going to focus on those two metrics in developing my 2014 predictions. Here's the National League West, Central, and East along with the American League Central and East. 

Oakland Athletics - 96-66 in 2013, 4.7 runs scored per game (4th in MLB), 3.9 runs allowed per game (9th in MLB): I always get the feeling that the A's are just a couple steps ahead of the posse. In the Moneyball era, they had a lot of guys who got on base a lot; now everyone's doing it. Last year they emphasized pitchers who give up fly balls and batters who hit them; probably the league catches up to them on that as well. They've won more games over the past two years than any team in the American League. I think it's going to be hard to keep that streak going. Prediction: More runs scored and allowed, 91-71.

Texas Rangers - 91-72, 4.5 runs scored per game (8th in MLB), 3.9 runs allowed per game (10th in MLB): The Rangers made a couple huge offseason deals, signing on-base machine Shin-Soo Choo to lead off and trading second baseman Ian Kinsler for lefty slugger Prince Fielder. The trade of Kinsler opens up second to Jurickson Profar, a highly-touted prospect who disappointed last year, compiling an OPS that was 24% below the league average (adjusting for his home park), but Profar turned 21 only last month (though he's out with a shoulder injury). The pitching staff is a worry, with last year's Cy Young runner-up followed by a bunch of guys with injury problems. Prediction: More runs scored and allowed,  89-73.

Los Angeles Angels - 78-84, 4.5 runs scored per game (7th in MLB), 4.5 runs allowed per game (24th in MLB): Albert Pujols is apparently recovered from his foot problems, Josh Hamilton was OK in the second half of last season, and they still have Mike Trout. Pitching was the problem last year, and they added youngster Tyler Skaggs and  lefty Hector Santiago in the trade for Mark Trumbo. When this team plopped down all that money on Pujols, C.J. Wilson, and Hamilton, they thought they were buying pennants. They didn't, but I think they're getting closer. Prediction: More runs scored and allowed, 83-79.

Seattle Mariners - 71-91, 3.9 runs scored per game (22nd in MLB), 4.7 runs allowed per game (26th in MLB): You might have heard that they signed former Yankees 2B Robinson Cano, one of the best players in baseball. Other than that, their deals were minor, and Hisashi Iwakuma, who finished third in the Cy Young voting, is out with a strained tendon in the middle finger of his pitching handPrediction: More runs scored and allowed, 76-86.

Houston Astros - 51-111, 3.8 runs scored per game (26th in MLB), 5.2 runs allowed per game (30th in MLB): It's tempting to look at last year's team and just say, "Well, they can't be much worse." I think they'll do better than that. They added CF Dexter Fowler via trade and starting pitchers Scott Feldman and Jerome Williams via free agency. The Astros also have a lot of strong prospects whom we'll likely see later in the season. Prediction: More runs scored, fewer allowed, 56-106.

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