But You Still Have To Play The Games…

Now that most of the off-season moves have been made, and there’s time to waste before the start of Spring Training, projections have started coming out for the 2012 season.

Here’s what’s surprising. Just six weeks ago, the baseball world was abuzz over the Angels’ signing of both Albert Pujols and CJ Wilson. Talk was quick and almost unanimous in praise of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, their starting pitching core and what a difference Pujols will make in their offensive line-up. We heard many predictions of the Angels being the prohibitive favorites for the World Series in 2012.

Now, just six weeks later, Sports Illustrated has come out with their first Power Rankings of the season. Who’s at the top of the list? The Texas Rangers.

Clay Davenport, the co-founder of Baseball Prospectus, has released his 2012 projections as well. Who’s Davenport got pegged for the AL’s best record? The Texas Rangers, with a projected 96 wins. Where are the Angels? A projected 86 wins, ten games behind the Rangers. Coincidentally, that was the margin in the AL West a year ago.

What’s apparently being said here is Yu Darvish and Neftali Feliz as a starter equals Albert Pujols and CJ Wilson in Angels red. At least on paper.

As the old saying goes, you still need to play the games. I would never peg the Rangers as a ten game favorite in the West in 2012. I still think Texas has the better offense, the better defense and the better bullpen, with a starting staff not that much behind LA. Still, I would peg the margin in the West this year as only about three games, with no guarantee the team from Arlington will be in first when it’s all over.

I also think if MLB adds the extra wild card team in 2012, both the Rangers and the Angels will make the playoffs. If it’s still only one Wild Card, it could be a dogfight between the second place teams in the AL West and the AL East.

Still, knowing the Rangers are still favored by a couple of well-respected sources even after the free agent splash of the Angels does this fan’s heart good.