Nick’s Pick: Young Athletics look to bring their A game
When you think about the American League West you think about the Texas Rangers or Los Angeles Angels as the top teams of that division. But what about the Oakland Athletics? Last season when the Angels acquired Albert Pujols and rookie Mike Trout, who came out of nowhere and was one of the top players in 2012, everyone thought that the division was locked up for the Angels, but that did not happen. As you know, the Angels missed the playoffs. The Texas Rangers lead the American League West for most of the season, but they collapsed in the final week of the season and the Oakland A’s took the division.
This season everyone is looking to the Angels to make the playoffs because of how powerful they are with their strong lineup, featuring the aforementioned Pujols and Trout. Add to that some strong pitching with the newly signed Josh Hamilton, and to round out the rotation they boast Jered Weaver and CJ Wilson as the 1-2 starters. Then of course there are the Rangers. Although they lost Hamilton and Michael Young, they still have a powerful team like the Angels – so the division is settled then, right? Ranger, Angels takes the division and a wild card spot, which seems to be how a lot of people view how the AL west will turn out, but not so fast! The A’s did win the division and I do not think they will give up the division title without a fight.
The A’s did not spend the amount of money that the Angels and the Rangers have in the past couple of years, but this team was built to surprise and last season they did just that. The A’s started off 2012 with rookies on half their roster and traded players like Gio Gonzalez and even fan favorite Kurt Suzuki during 2012. Even with a team that looked like they had no chance, the A’s managed to somehow pull off a 94-68 record, which was good enough to steal first place from the Rangers during the final week of the season. If the A’s manage to keep last season’s momentum going then they might be able to get ahead of the other teams in their division early this season.
The A’s have a lot more momentum going into the 2013 season than it first seems. They signed most of their young team and even signed Japanese all-star shortstop Hiroyuki Nakajima. With stars like Yoenis Cespedes and Josh Reddick and with a young rotation that includes Jarrod Parker, Tommy Milone, and what the A’s hope to be a healthy season for Brett Anderson, there could be a huge challenge for the Rangers and Angels. Spending money on free agents can always help a team go far, but the A’s managed to keep most of their assets and that could create good results for the A’s this season and years to come.
This will be a very interesting season to watch with the Rangers and Angels, hoping that their money is well spent. The Seattle Mariners also have their rebuild in full-swing and the AL West has a new team in the Houston Astros who moved over from the NL central, but I think the A’s will prove with their young team that they will not be taken lightly and will challenge for the division title and that is why they are my AL West Pick.
Next up the Final pick who will be chosen in the NL West