Beyond Golf — 01 April 2013 by Jim Street
GW’s MLB West Power Rankings

Like the swallows coming back to Capistrano, the Golferswest.com Power Rankings for the American and National League West Divisions are back for a second season.

Not to brag or anything like that, but GW was right on the mark a year ago when the Giants not only ended the regular season as the Best in the West, but they the best ANYWHERE, winning a World Series championship for the second time in the past three seasons.

With Opening Night arriving on Sunday, it’s time to tee it up and rate the teams once again.

There is a new addition to the West lineup this season as the Astros join the AL West. Good luck with that as the West boasts a power-packed lineup and the Rangers are still pretty darn good despite losing Michael Young and Josh Hamilton.

So buckle up and follow us through the regular season.

GW’s MLB West Power Ratings (Week 1)

1. Giants (1): The reigning World Series champs will attempt to become the fourth NL West franchise since 2001 to capture back-to-back division titles, joining the Diamondbacks (2001-02), Padres (2005-06) and Dodgers (2008-09) to accomplish the feat.

2. Dodgers (5): If you ask me, the franchise put too many of its eggs in the basket when it signed right-hander Zack Grienke to that humongous contract. His track record scares me and missing a large portion of spring training could raise some eyebrows.

3. Angels (4): There might not be a better one-two punch in the middle of a lineup than Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton. Throw in vastly-underpaid Mike Trout and you have the makings of one awesome offense.

4. Mariners (8): Call it a hunch, but the much-improved middle of the lineup will catapult the woebegone Mariners to respectability, something that has been missing for the past several seasons.

5. Rangers (2): Much is being said about the loss of the switch-hitting Hamilton, but the departure of Michael Young could have a much larger impact on the team that suddenly is going through a transition period.

6. Athletics (3): The feel-good story of 2012 figures to be a one-year fling for the reigning AL West champs. They won’t sneak up on teams in ’13 the way they did a year ago.

7. Diamondbacks (6): The “where-will-Justin-Upton-go?” saga is behind the Snakes and now it’s full speed ahead – to a fourth- or fifth-place finish in the NL West.

8. Padres (7): The Padres added considerable pitching to their roster during the off-season, but there are just too many better teams in the division for the Pads to make much noise.

9. Rockies (9): Rookie manager Walt Weiss, only five years removed from being a player, has his work cut out for him this season. Talk about starting at the  bottom and working your way up.

10. Astros (NR): It’s a whole new ballgame for a team that is basically foreign to the Designated Hitter rule. Furthermore, just wait until some of their pitchers face the offensive-laden Angels and even the Young-Hamilton-less Rangers.

(Last Year’s final rating in parenthesis)

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Jim Street

Jim’s 40-year sportswriting career started with the San Jose Mercury-News in 1970 and ended on a full-time basis on October 31, 2010 following a 10-year stint with MLB.com. He grew up in Dorris, Calif., several long drives from the nearest golf course. His first tee shot was a week before being inducted into the Army in 1968. Upon his return from Vietnam, where he was a war correspondent for the 9th Infantry Division, Jim took up golf semi-seriously while working for the Mercury-News and covered numerous tournaments, including the U.S. Open in 1982, when Tom Watson made the shot of his life on the 17th hole at Pebble Beach. Jim also covered several Bing Crosby Pro-Am tournaments, the women’s U.S. Open, and other golfing events in the San Francisco area. He has a 17-handicap, never had a hole-in-one, although once he came within two inches of an ace, and witnessed the first round Ken Griffey Jr. ever played – at Arizona State during Spring Training in 1990. Pebble Beach Golf Links, the Kapalua Plantation Course, Pinehurst No. 2, Spyglass Hill, Winged Foot, Torrey Pines, Medinah, Chambers Bay, North Berwick in Scotland, and Princeville are among the courses he has had the pleasure of playing. Hitting the ball down the middle of the fairway is not a strong part of Jim’s game, but he is known (in his own mind) as the best putter not on tour. Most of Jim’s writing career was spent covering Major League baseball, a tenure that started with the Oakland Athletics, who won 101 games in 1971, and ended with the Seattle Mariners, who lost 101 games in 2010. Symmetry is a wonderful thing. He currently lives in Seattle and vacations in Arizona (and other warm climates) as much as possible.

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