1st Place: Los Angeles Angels- Take an 86-76 team from last year, and add securities at pretty much every position they lacked last season. This team could easily go to a 95-100 win team in 2012 based on the tremendous offseason they just had. Take a pitching staff that was the best in the American League in 2011, and add a fantastic starting pitcher in C.J. Wilson (16-7/2.94/206) and an excellent reliever in LaTroy Hawkins (3-1/2.42/28). Their hitting was middle-of-the-road in 2011, but expect that to jump in 2012 with the mega-signing of Albert Pujols (right) (.299/37/99). Also, expect what was an insecure position in 2011 to become stable with the addition of catcher Chris Iannetta (.238/14/55). It will be a tough fight with the Rangers for the division, but I expect the Angels to edge it out.
2nd Place: Texas Rangers- The 2010 and 2011 American League champions pretty much stood pat in this offseason. While this does not make them a bad team in any way, the Angels additions, coupled with the loss of C.J. Wilson will push them to second place. However, the loss of C.J. Wilson won't be nearly as substantial if Yu Darvish (left)(18-6/1.44/276 in Japan) plays up to par. Also, much like what they did at the Trading Deadline last year, they upgraded their bullpen-- this time, with the addition of Joe Nathan (2-1/4.84/43). Expect the Rangers to be contenders for the Wild Card(s?) with the Rays and Red Sox, and to be strong competitors throughout the year.
3rd Place: Seattle Mariners- The Mariners were one of the worst teams in the league last year at 67-95, but while they stood pat-- the A's mortgaged their team. The Mariners didn't do a whole lot this offseason. The only real thing they did was to upgrade their offense (worst in the league in 2011), by acquiring Jesus Montero (right)(.328/4/12 in 18 games) and John Jaso (.263/5/44 in 2010), both catchers. They also upgraded their bullpen a bit, with the acquisitions of Hector Noesi (2-2/4.47/45), George Sherrill (3-1/3.00/38), Shawn Camp (6-3/4.21/32), and Hong-Chih Kuo (3-2/1.20/73 in 2010). They won't be good, but they may reach 70 wins and be at least better than last year.
4th Place: Oakland Athletics- Now we have the A's, who will make a run at the worst team in the league after trading away all of their stars this offseason. They traded away their two best starting pitchers (Trevor Cahill to Arizona and Gio Gonzalez to Washington), as well as their closer (Andrew Bailey to Boston). One could argue that they could afford to do so, with a 3.71 ERA in 2011 (10th best in the league), but I disagree. What they got in return for those pitchers were mostly prospects, but they did acquire some young players who could help their 24th ranked offense. They acquired young outfielders in Seth Smith (left)(.284/15/59), Josh Reddick (.280/7/28), and Jonny Gomes (.209/14/43). Expect the A's to be one of the worst teams in baseball.