Angels predicted to be MLB champs
Published: Thursday, February 28, 2013
Updated: Thursday, February 28, 2013 01:02
Last offseason, the Los Angeles Angels stole the show by signing the best position player and starting pitcher available in free agency in Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson, respectively. The New York Yankee-esque spending spree did not translate into wins, however, as the Angels failed to reach the postseason. This offseason, both Los Angeles teams made huge splashes in free agency. The Angels made the biggest and most unexpected move similar to last offseason by acquiring perennial All Star outfielder Josh Hamilton to the tune of five years, $125 million. The Los Angeles Dodgers did not shy away from shelling out cash either, as they signed starting pitcher Zack Greinke to a six-year, $147 million deal. But as the baseball world has seen over the past decade, spending bundles of cash does not translate into winning championships. Just ask the Boston Red Sox how that worked out for them; they stumbled to an abysmal 69-93 record that led to the firing of manager Bobby Valentine.
Instead, it was the teams that built from within that had the most success last season. The Baltimore Orioles, Oakland Athletics, Washington Nationals, St. Louis Cardinals and the champion San Francisco Giants all made the playoffs with rosters comprised of mainly home grown talent. This season appears to be no different, though. The Nationals appear to be the cream of the crop this year and will be led by fiery 20-year-old Bryce Harper.
Harper took the league by storm as a teenager last season and helped revive baseball in the nation’s capital. He, along with electric right hander Stephen Strasburg, should continue to build on their early success and make the nationals a serious contender come October.
One of the better storylines of the offseason was the Atlanta Braves acquiring the talented Upton brothers, outfielders B.J. and Justin. Adding these two brothers to a lineup that already features Jason Heyward, Brian McCann and Freddie Freeman should help ease the pain for Braves fans as they move on with life without retired great Chipper Jones. They could challenge the Nationals for the NL East. In the NL Central, there are two teams that stick out, the St. Louis Cardinals and the NL Central Division winner Cincinnati Reds. Both teams will be returning their core players and could contend for the NL pennant.
The NL West could be up for grabs this season despite containing the Giants. The Arizona Diamondbacks, San Diego Padres and Los Angeles Dodgers all have realistic chances to improve. In the division, the Dodgers have had the biggest overhaul over the past eight months, acquiring the likes of Carl Crawford, Adrian Gonzales, Hanley Ramirez and Greinke.
The Dodgers will have the highest payroll in MLB history this season at a whopping $250 million. The reigning AL champion Detroit Tigers should contend with one of the fiercest lineups in all of baseball. Their lineup contains Triple Crown winner and AL MVP Miguel Cabrera, All Star slugger Prince Fielder and speedy leadoff man Austin Jackson. The AL West could be up for grabs as well this season. While the Angels went on another spending spree, the Rangers regressed after losing a lot of pop in their lineup, and the Athletics kept their team together and hope to surprise everyone once again and win the division. Newcomer Houston Astros owned the worst record in baseball over the last two seasons and are years away from contending. The Angels’ Mike Trout will look to build on one of the most impressive rookie campaigns in MLB history, as he finished as the runner-up for the AL MVP award to Miguel Cabrera. Trout hit .326 with 30 home runs, 83 RBI and 49 stolen bases.
The AL East received a makeover this offseason as the Toronto Blue Jays appear to be the best team in the division on paper. The team north of the border added reigning NL Cy Young and knuckleballer R.A. Dickey along with former All Stars Jose Reyes, Mark Buerhle, Josh Johnson and John Buck from the payroll-slashing Florida Marlins.
The Yankees have an aging and expensive roster that could put up a bunch of wins but do not have the pieces anymore to truly contend. The Tampa Bay Rays and Orioles could compete, but like the Yankees, it seems that they will not have enough firepower to compete with the Blue Jays.
There are a lot of questions to be answered this season, but as it sits now the teams with best chance to win the World Series this year are the Angels, Reds, Tigers, Blue Jays and Nationals, in order. The Dodgers, Braves, Orioles, Athletics and Giants, along with a handful of other squads, all could easily make their case for supremacy this season.
If one thing is certain, it’s that the Chicago Cubs will not win the World Series for the 105th consecutive year.