Lloyd McClendon sensed the momentum early in
"Don't pick us," McClendon said. "Let us stay under the radar."
It's a little late for that. Nothing that transpired in Arizona over the last five weeks has reduced expectations for the Mariners, who finally have an offense to couple with superb pitching. Their middle-of-the-order trio of
Seattle is a popular pick to win a division that includes a strong
"We've made some additions that should make us better," McClendon said. "But it's not always the best team. It's the healthiest team that has best opportunity to win."
The Mariners went 87-75 and came within one win of a playoff spot in 2014, elimination coming on the final day of a season in which four of their five starting pitchers spent time on the disabled list.
"It was bittersweet, a taste none of my players will forget," McClendon said. "You work your tail off all year, put your heart and soul into it and come up one game short, it makes you think about all the games you could have won. I believe your past prepares you for your future, and I think our future is pretty bright."
Seattle, which led the AL with a 3.17 earned-run average last season, has a deep and talented rotation of
Kansas City has baseball's best back-of-the-bullpen trio in
Cruz, who signed a four-year, $57-million deal after hitting a major league-high 40 homers for Baltimore last season, should be a considerable upgrade in a cleanup spot that produced a .218 average and .647 OPS (on-base plus slugging), both AL-worsts last season.
He will bat between Cano, who hit .314 with 82 runs batted in, and Seager, who hit .268 with 25 homers and 96 RBIs. Seattle should be better offensively in right field with a platoon of
If speedy leadoff man
"They've come a long way offensively," Angels pitcher
Seattle's stiffest competition will come from the Angels, who have a potent middle-of-the-order duo in Mike Trout and Albert Pujols and a deeper pitching staff.
Oakland is a bit of an unknown after a whirlwind winter in which General Manager
"When they make a move," Angels Manager Mike Scioscia said, "it's usually one that's going to make them better at some point."
Texas shouldn't be as bad as it was in 2014, when the
The return of first baseman
"Any time you get punched in the mouth like these guys did last year, it's tough," Rangers first-year Manager Jeff Banister said. "They went through some rough times, but they're energetic, upbeat and hungry."
Houston improved from 51 wins in 2013 to 70 wins in 2014, but the