In 2012, though, no forecast of Texas is complete without looking as well at the Angels, since it figures to be an actual pennant race. So using the same format and Steamer for the production and playing time, I did the same thing for the Angels. 2012 Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim Projection.
The results (surprisingly to me) were not nearly so optimistic, giving the Angels only 90 wins, right about where most other projection models have them. If both forecasts are to be trusted, that means the Rangers are seen as 10 wins better than their closest rivals, and the division is not quite as close as it is made out to be by much of the media.
That said, this is not entirely fair to the Angels. Part of the strength of the Rangers' forecast is the playing time input of fans who understand the team. I don't know enough about the Angels to do the same thing for them, and Angels fans could quite possibly squeeze several more wins out of those performances by moving the roster around in a realistic way. Seriously, if there's an Angels fan reading this, do that and let me know. For example, Mark Trumbo figures to be awful at third base, but will they keep playing him there if he is? Will they continue to play Vernon Wells instead of Mike Trout (though Trout still gets plenty of PAs in this)?
Just as I would take the under on the Rangers' forecast, I would take the over on the Angels. And we certainly know the Angels can outperform their perceived talent level. There are, once again, other systems that also see a large spread between the teams. I do still think the AL West will be a tight race, but I am more confident in the Rangers being the most likely team to take it, and have a small reason to believe they might be as close as originally thought.