And our final division on the docket is the AL West. Last season, Anaheim finally broke through and made the World Series, but made it 6 straight losses for the AL in the Fall Classic. Boise had a solid bounceback season after their last place finish in season 9. Cheyenne (to use a term from their Las Vegas Gamblers days) "broke even" at 81-81, and Seattle surprisingly ended up in last. So how does this division shake out in season 11?
Boise (last season-7th in AL) has a perennial MVP candidate type hitter in LF Barry McEnroe, but he's not alone. Young 3B Grover James will be counted on to hit and get on base, as he's got speed. They have solid veteran hitters in DH Santiago Martin, IF/OF David Rushford, and SS Ryan Hamill. If rookies 1B Ted Riggs and RF Sidney King can contribute, this could be a fairly deep lineup.
Anaheim (last season- 8th in AL) loses its biggest name but not its biggest bat. James Dixon had arguably his worst offensive season on his way out the door. The Chiles will return big time hitters in RF Dweezil Milligan and 2B Pedro Candelaria. These two- along with 1B Zip Capra, DH Jim Adkinsson, and LF Bob Stewart- should provide Anaheim with lots of power this season. The Chiles like 21-year-old SS Willie Arias.
Seattle (last season- 14th in AL) does not look like the team that made two straight World Series appearances. They still have the big names in 2B Jack Hunt, LF Jacque Puffer, and 1B Osvaldo Johnson (who could hit the 500 home run plateau this season). But Hunt and RF Candy Krueter both had down years (despite providing stolen bases), DH King Winn provided no offense and finally retired, and 3B Coco Briggs's strikeouts overshadow his power production. SS Louie Inoue (Rule 5 pick) provides good offense at the position, but his defensive ability is questioned by many scouts.
Cheyenne (last season- 13th in AL) doesn't have much punch. 3B Edwin Corey is a solid hitter, as is 1B Wally Harvey, although Harvey isn't what he once was. But CF Will Weston took a huge step back last season, and 3B Boomer Robinson and SS Kevin Kim have unfulfilled potential.
Seattle (last season- 4th in AL) has 5 solid veterans in the rotation. Miguel Benitez had his best season since his Cy Young campaign 4 years ago, and Kane Grahe, Slash Ruffin, Marty Lane, and Junior Bennett are all proven veterans. Closer Quilvio Sanchez has 5 straight All-Star appearances to his name and Freddie Hampton figures to be tough on lefties.
Anaheim (last season- 5th in AL) also has a deep rotation. Former Cy Young winner Mateo Batista heads the rotation and is the big name, but young starters Victor DeLeon and Mike Lowery are quite good. Peaches Thompson and Gaylord Matheson provide veteran depth. L.J. Jordan was up and down as the closer. Greg Nieman is a valuable arm out of the bullpen.
Boise (last season- 12th in AL) has to improve here in order to be a playoff contender. They have talent in Bruce Stairs, Einar Crespo, and Pedro Limon and Victor Soto is solid. They'll need a 5th starter in either Pedro Medrano or former Sultan Johnnie Reagan. A big question is which Alex Cornejo shows up this year- the dominant Season 9 pitcher or the very mediocre closer from last season?
Cheyenne (last season- 9th in AL) has moderate talent in the rotation and a big star at the end. The rotation is Charlie White, Wilfredo Redondo, Glen Bush, Rich Gibson, and Adrian Hendrickson; there are no stars here and yet there are no hacks, either. Coco Hines has won the last two Fireman of the Year awards, following up his record-setting 59 saves from Season 9 with 56 last season.
1. I'll go out on a bit of a limb and say Boise answers enough of their pitching questions in the affirmative to take down their first division title.
2. Any of these teams can be in playoff contention. Any of these teams could lose 90 games.
3. If Cheyenne fails to contend again, I'll take Hines as the most likely to be dealt.