1 Seattle Mariners – Picked the Mariners last year, but they faded late (still hit the “over” on wins, though). The fact that they’re on the cover of ESPN the Magazine worries us a bit (SI has them third). Will Milton Bradley fight a fan, his manager, or a teammate? As exciting as Felix and Cliff Lee and Ichiro and Figgins are … Milton Bradley is holding up the middle of that lineup? Really? Where’s Jay Buhner when you need him. Unload the prospects and take Carlos Pena from the Rays. Eighty-six wins.
2 Texas Rangers – Eighty-two wins, no relapses from Josh Hamilton or manager Ron Washington, some bop from Vlad Guerrero as DH, and a stellar season from Rich Harden atop the depth chart. Like the offense (even with Kinsler’s injury), like the pitching slightly less so (Feldman!), and kind of like the AL Central, the guess here is that the Mariners-Rangers-Angels will all be in the mix for this division.
3 Anaheim Angels – The string of three consecutive division titles ends. They’ll fall to a disappointing 76 wins. Like Jered Weaver, but Scott Kazmir can’t stay healthy and Ervin Santana is inconsistent. The outfield is aging, and do you really like taking out Figgins and Vlad and replacing them with underwhelming Brandon Wood and Hideki Matsui? (Always been a huge fan of Matsui, but the guess here is that he’ll have a tough year changing teams and coasts.) The highlight of the season will be all the fights in the parking lot and the stands (let’s just hope nobody dies this year).
4 Oakland A’s – Who will produce more homers, the entire A’s team this year (not a lock that anyone will hit 20) or 1987 trio of Canseco, McGwire and Reggie Jackson? Who would buy a ticket to see these jokers? Even though the pitching staff is solid, we’ll go with 69 wins, which is significantly under what the number-crunchers at PECOTA are projecting.