Tim Heitman-US PRESSWIRE
Despite an off-season of retooling, the Rangers still look like the best in the west.
In 2013, the Texas Rangers will almost certainly be losing arguably their best player, and one of baseball's best hitters. They will be losing another man who has at times been one of the best, as well, and at the very least a great asset at his natural position. They will lose one or two elite relievers, and will have one of their best pitchers beginning the year on the DL. They may or may not retain some of these players, but at the very least, none can currently be considered a part of their roster.
Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim looked, from a true performance standpoint, to be only a couple of games worse than the Rangers last season. They retain one of baseball's best pitchers, another who looks like a good bounce-back case, and a future Hall of Famer at first base, as well as a man who had an age 20 season that debatably put people like Ted Williams, Ty Cobb, and Alex Rodriguez to shame.
With their age, farm, and payroll flexibility, the Rangers look like a healthier team long-term than the Angels, but I have contended the Angels look like the better team in 2013, barring surprising off-season moves from Texas. I have said I will maintain that position until a good forecast system tells me otherwise.
Thursday, a good forecast system told me otherwise. Dan Szymborski's ZiPS -- one of the most reliable and accessible systems available -- currently has the Rangers winning 89 games, and the AL West by five games, based on current rosters. That is, obviously, not likely the best team in baseball right now, but winning the division in a mini-rebuilding year would have to be considered a great success. Obviously things can change as the rosters change.
Obviously even the best forecasts -- though better than your or my gut reactions -- will get a lot of things wrong. ZiPS is a good enough model, though, that this should give you some small comfort at least in the state of the division. You can get an idea of how well ZiPS performed by looking at Brad's recaps of the Lone Star Ball community projections.
Hat tip to LSB, by the way, for the story, which sits behind Insider content at ESPN.com.