It’s almost fitting that in a division with the terms American and West in it, that a team from Texas and named the Rangers is the most talented team.
Now, the Rangers a’re not exactly going to produce any Cy Young contenders, but their bats are among the most sought-after in fantasy baseball.
I’d put the Mariners at the top of the division in pitching now, but wouldn’t be surprised if the A’s took that spot next year or the year after. Lot’s of good young talent in the Oakland pitching ranks, but they’re a little devoid elsewhere.
The American League West is a weird division in that way.
AL West teams ranked based on fantasy power:
Texas Rangers — If all of their players live up to their potential — Ian Kinsler’s injury is already making sure that will be a long shot — the Rangers could have the most potent offense in baseball. Kinsler, Nelson Cruz, Michael Young, Josh Hamilton and table setters Julio Borbon and Elvis Andrus make for an intimidating lineup. Unfortunately, their only exciting pitching prospect is setup man Neftali Feliz. He could end up as the closer by the end of the season.
Seattle Mariners — Ahead of the Angels, but only slightly, because of the rotation. Felix Hernandez is the most talented pitcher in the division and Cliff Lee, once he returns from injury, is a dominant arm as well. The offense is an interesting one, featuring upside guys like Franklin Gutierrez and Jose Lopez and more shaky picks like Chone Figgins and Casey Kotchman. Of course, Ichiro’s still there. He’s declining considerably and always terribly overpriced, but he’s a fantasy factor nonetheless.
Los Angeles Angels — An aging Bobby Abreu is the best hitter, but aging is a word that needs to be used to describe most of the Halos’ outfield. Torii Hunter, Juan Rivera and Hideki Matsui will be the other regulars. When will decline hit? Luckily, 3B Brandon Wood has serious power potential and, finally, a full-time job. Kendry Morales, Howie Kendrick and Erick Aybar are all bust candidates. A shaky but potentially good rotation is headlined by oft-injured offseason acquisition Scott Kazmir, No. 1 Jered Weaver and Ervin Santana, who pitched 80 innings less in 2009 than he did in his breakout 2008.
Oakland Athletics — Their offense seems horrendous. Rajai Davis could score 100 and steal 40, but beyond that there are a lot of question marks. Kevin Kouzmanoff has power potential, but moving from the Padres’ pitcher’s park to the Athletics’ isn’t going to help that much. Ryan Sweeney, Coco Crisp and Daric Barton are names of some other players on the team. Luckily, the Athletics have a stable of arms, including a couple rising prospects, that could keep them competitive. Brett Anderson, Gio Gonzalez and Trevor Cahill are the young arms on the move. Ben Sheets was acquired in the offseason. Justin Duchscherer pitched just 11 minor league innings in 2009, but two years ago had a 2.54 ERA and a 1.00 WHIP in 22 starts.
The best in the AL West:
- Best fantasy hitter: Ian Kinsler, 2B, Rangers
- Best fantasy pitcher: Felix Hernandez, SP, Mariners
- Hitting fantasy MVP: Michael Young, 3B, Rangers
- Pitching fantasy MVP: Ervin Santana, SP, Angels
- Fantasy prospect: Brandon Wood, 3B, Angels
- Sleeper: Franklin Gutierrez, OF, Mariners
- Bust: Josh Hamilton, OF, Rangers
For more division previews and rankings, sleepers, busts and targets, check out our 2010 fantasy baseball rankings page.