MLB Preview: Seattle Mariners set to take AL West title

MLB Preview: Seattle Mariners set to take AL West title
Seattle Mariners starter Felix Hernandez delivers a pitch during an exhibition game against the Cleveland Indians on March 31. (Ross D. Franklin / Associated Press)


1. Seattle Mariners

2014: 87-75, third place. Last year in playoffs: 2001.

The addition of MLB home run leader Nelson Cruz was meant to turn around an offense that was second-worst in the league (.244/.300/.376) in 2014. But Safeco Field is where home run hitters go to die: Only one Mariner has hit more than 30 there since 2006.

CF A. Jackson

RF S. Smith

2B R. Cano

DH N. Cruz


3B K. Seager

1B L. Morrison

C M. Zunino

LF D. Ackley

SS B. Miller


RH F. Hernandez

LH J. Paxton

RH H. Iwakuma

LH J.A. Happ

RH T. Walker


RH F. Rodney

2. Angels

2014: 98-64, first place. Last year in playoffs: 2014.

The Angels need to get more out of their rotation after watching their bullpen lead the majors in innings last year. They also have a big hole to fill at second base after trading Howie Kendrick. Josh Hamilton's status could be a season-long distraction.

RF K. Calhoun

CF M. Trout

1B A. Pujols

LF M. Joyce

3B D. Freese

SS E. Aybar

DH C.J. Cron

C C. Iannetta

2B J. Giavotella


RH J. Weaver

LH C.J. Wilson

RH M. Shoemaker

RH G. Richards*

LH H. Santiago


RH H. Street

3. Oakland Athletics

2014: 88-74, second place. Last year in playoffs: 2014.

The A's annual winter housecleaning swept away three-fifths of the rotation, three-fourths of the infield, an outfielder and their top two catchers. They added Billy Butler (.271, nine HRs) and Ben Zobrist (.272, 10 HRs), but that might not be enough to keep their three-year playoff streak intact.

LF C. Crisp*

CF S. Fuld

2B B. Zobrist

DH B. Butler

RF J. Reddick*

3B B. Lawrie

1B I. Davis

SS M. Semien

C S. Vogt


RH S. Gray

LH S. Kazmir

LH D. Pomeranz

RH K. Graveman

RH J. Hahn


RH T. Clippard

4. Texas Rangers

2014: 67-95, fifth place. Last year in playoffs: 2012.

The loss of ace Yu Darvish further exposes a shallow rotation that was second-worst in the majors in opponents' batting average (.281) and losses (69) in 2014. That's something the Rangers' bats can no longer overcome — they had the second-fewest homers in the AL last year.

CF L. Martin

SS E. Andrus

3B A. Beltre

1B P. Fielder

RF S. Choo

DH M. Moreland

LF R. Rua

C R. Chirinos

2B R. Odor


RH Y. Gallardo

RH C. Lewis

LH R. Detwiler

RH N. Martinez

LH D. Holland


RH N. Felix

5. Houston Astros

2014: 70-92, fourth place. Last year in playoffs: 2005.

The Astros are nurturing a bumper crop down on the farm, but it's not ready to harvest just yet. Houston's young rotation (its 3.82 ERA was better than Detroit's) and batting champ Jose Altuve (.341) give new Manager A.J. Hinch some tools to play with at the big league level.

2B J. Altuve

RF G. Springer

3B L. Valbuena

DH E. Gattis

1B C. Carter

C J. Castro

LF R. Grossman

SS J. Lowrie

CF J. Marisnick


LH D. Keuchel

RH S. Feldman

RH C. McHugh

LH B. Oberholtzer*

RH R. Hernandez


RH L. Gregerson