2014 AL West Preview And Predictions

3 of 6

Mar 11, 2014; Tempe, AZ, USA; Los Angeles Angels first baseman

Albert Pujols

(5) hits an RBI double against the Seattle Mariners at Tempe Diablo Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

2) Los Angeles Angels: 87-75 (Wild-Card)

1- Why will this team exceed expectations?

David Hill from Halo Hangout: The Angels will exceed expectations due to the improvements made by their lineup. To say that Josh Hamilton was a disappointment last season would be a grotesque understatement. Albert Pujols was injured, and lost for the year at the end of July. The Angels also improved their lineup this offseason by acquiring David Freese from the Cardinals, giving them a viable third baseman. With a healthy Pujols and an improved Hamilton (he can’t be that bad again, can he?) the Angels lineup could score a lot of runs this year.

2- Why will this team fall short of expectations?

The bullpen. Ernesto Frieri was not exactly dominant last season, and after excelling in 2012, it may be fair to wonder which pitcher he is. Dane de la Rosa went from a minor league journeyman to a surprisingly good option out of the Angels bullpen last year. Yes, they signed Joe Smith to supplement their bullpen depth, but is he going to be enough?

3- Look for the team to make (this trade)

Trading Joe Blanton is obvious, but who really wants him at this point? Instead, if Taylor Lindsey can prove that his power surge last season is legit, the Angels may look to trade Howie Kendrick. There are still a number of contenders with questions at second base (Yankees and Dodgers, I’m looking at you specifically) so Kendrick could be a hot commodity. After all, he was reportedly available this offseason. If Lindsey continues to develop, it may be time to part ways with Kendrick.

4- Watch out for the emergence of (prospect)

Zack Borenstein. While Lindsey, C.J. Cron and Kaleb Cowart are the Angels prospects that get the attention, Borenstein has done nothing but hit since being drafted in the 23rd round in 2011. However, he broke out last year in the California League, posting a .337/.403/.631 batting line with 28 home runs. He is expected to be promoted to AA for the 2014 season, so it will be interesting to see how he performs in Arkansas. If he can even approach those numbers, Borenstein may find himself as a top prospect for the Angels.