Rangers to maintain hold on AL West

Nelson Cruz and Josh Hamilton should give the Rangers enough firepower to win the AL West again. Al Bello/Getty Images

For the third straight year, Baseball Prospectus is kicking off spring training for Insider with an early look at the PECOTA projected standings. A lot can change between now and Opening Day because of injuries and roster machinations, but throughout this week, BP will provide an early prognostication of how each division will play out.

Someone has to win the AL West, and because it contains only four teams, that means each of them has to like their chances a little bit more than teams in most divisions. But who will come out on top -- the defending champs? The resurgent A's? The once-dominant Los Angeles Angels?

For the answer, we turn to PECOTA, Baseball Prospectus' projection system, as well as our estimates of roster construction. Projection is hardly destiny -- typically, these sorts of projections will end up within about seven or eight wins of the final results. With divisions potentially being decided by a handful of wins, that means there's still quite a bit of room for surprises.