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2015 MLB preview: Robinson Cano leads Mariners in AL West

Seattle Mariners second baseman Robinson Cano mimics his

Seattle Mariners second baseman Robinson Cano mimics his swing move while talking with Seattle Mariners hitting coach Howard Johnson before a spring training game against the Chicago Cubs Monday, March 30, 2015, in Surprise, Ariz. Photo Credit: AP / Lenny Ignelzi

What's the best headline here? Robby's revenge? Last laugh for Cano?

It's been more than a year since Robinson Cano was branded a sellout for turning his back on the Yankees and taking $240 million from the Mariners, a team that supposedly didn't have the resources to build around him.

But not only is Cano extremely rich, he's probably headed back to the playoffs before his buddies in the Bronx. The Mariners already had the best 1-2 rotation combo in the division with Felix Hernandez and Hisashi Iwakuma, but it's filled out with up-and-comers James Paxton and Taijuan Walker rounding out the top four.

Cano also got some lineup help for spacious Safeco Park, with the Mariners spending $57 million for Nelson Cruz, whose power numbers last year were not simply a Camden creation. Cruz hit 25 of his 40 homers away from cozy Oriole Park, with a much-superior road slash line of .289/.346/.584. Given that the lefthanded-hitting Cano and Kyle Seager were Seattle's two best hitters last year, Cruz's righthanded pop should be the perfect complement.

But the AL West will be a dogfight to the end between the Mariners, Angels and A's. It wouldn't be a surprise to see a tiebreaking Game 163 to decide the crown.

2. ANGELS

Two big things the Angels have going for them: Mr. MVP Mike Trout and the return of Garrett Richards, who seems ready to be great again after a freakish knee injury ended his season in August. Albert Pujols hasn't put up Cardinals-type numbers, but at least he stayed healthy for an entire year. Huston Street, picked up last season, anchors the bullpen from Opening Day, which is a positive.

3. A's

Just when it looked as if Billy Beane was switching to Rebuild Mode, and taking heat for it, the Moneyball GM pressed the reset button in trading for the versatile Ben Zobrist and signing DH Billy Butler. Sonny Gray and Scott Kazmir remain to anchor the rotation after Jon Lester left for free agency and Jeff Samardzija was traded to the White Sox.

4. RANGERS

Texas had a stunning 2,116 days lost to the DL last season, pretty much the reason for their 67 wins and last-place finish. But with Yu Darvish already felled by Tommy John surgery, that's not a good omen for '15.

5. ASTROS

The Astros aggressively pursued bullpen help during the offseason but were rebuffed by the two best free-agent relievers, Andrew Miller and David Robertson. It was a reminder that Houston remains pretty low on MLB's food chain, even if the not-too-distant future looks bright.

Best of the AL West

EVERYDAY PLAYER: Mike Trout, Angels

OVERALL HITTER: Jose Altuve, Astros

POWER HITTER: Chris Carter, Astros

IN THE CLUTCH: Mike Trout, Angels

INFIELD ARM: Elvis Andrus, Rangers

OUTFIELD ARM: Mike Trout, Angels

CATCHER: Steven Vogt, A's

STARTER: Felix Hernandez, Mariners

RELIEVER: Tyler Clippard, A's

CLOSER: Huston Street, Angels

ROTATION: Mariners

BULLPEN: Mariners

OFFENSE: Angels

DEFENSE: Mariners

SPEED: Mariners

DEPTH: A's

GM: Billy Beane, A's

MANAGER: Mike Scioscia, Angels

STADIUM: Safeco Field

UNIFORMS: Mariners (Sunday home alternates)

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