AL West Divisional Preview
AL West Divisional Preview
Hey there readers! It’s me, Mike Hamby, with another divisional preview. This time we are taking a look at the Wild Wild AL West. This division is made up of X-factors, superstars, and very confusing success stories. But, without further ado, here are my predictions for the American League West.
The reigning World Series champions are going to be back in the postseason. That is not a question, it is a statement. With the return of Justin Verlander, the resurgence of Dallas Keuchel, and the prominence of Jose Altuve, this team is built to win it all again. This lineup is deadly from top to bottom, with sluggers like Correa and Bregman only expected to improve upon their previous seasons. Jose Altuve is coming off an MVP season, in which he did about as well as he did the last two seasons, and should be just as good this year. Hell, even Evan Gattis can hit plenty of home runs with that tree stump he calls a baseball bat. The pitching staff is built to last, with the addition of Gerrit Cole, the top three starters are all ace caliber pitchers, making the fourth and fifth spots heavily competitive. The only question for this team is what to look for from the bullpen. With an average pen last year, the Astros should definitely pursue a reliever at the deadline this year. Otherwise, things look bright in Houston, so expect plenty of good play from the Astros.
Predicted Record: 96 – 66
Los Angeles Angels
A team brimming with excitement and potential, the Angels could be in the postseason this year if a couple cards fall their way. With Mike Trout, anything is possible, and that should be the Angels mindset this season. With Albert Pujols getting older, you can expect some decent production from the machine, but nothing that will amaze you. The rest of the lineup is pretty good, with defensive stud Andrelton Simmons playing SS, and the additions of Ian Kinsler and Zack Cozart will be sure to help shore up the infield. The biggest question for the team is their rotation. An achilles heel for years now, the pitching staff has always been plagued by the injury bug or a lack of talent that keeps them from making the postseason. Well, they look to fix that with the addition of one man. Shohei Ohtani could provide the numbers this staff needs to become serviceable in the American League. No one is truly certain what to expect from the Japanese pitcher, except that he should be at least a solid second starter. Meanwhile Garrett Richards will be looking to stay healthy for the first time since 2015, and if he does it could be enough to propel them into Wild Card play. Long story short, keep an eye on the Angels, they just might surprise you.
Predicted Record: 87 – 75
The Oakland Athletics are not very good. They are trying to get younger, but aren’t quite there yet. They should win more games than they did last year, but will likely finish last in their division. Look for the youth on this team, specifically Matt Olson and Boog Powell, to improve and show their value as the season goes on. The rotation suffers from the same issues as the lineup, not enough youth, and yet not enough talent to get anywhere. In all honesty, there isn’t much else to write about for the A’s. I think picking up Jonathan Lucroy was a good idea, as he could pop off in the first half of the season, and be traded as a rental for the second half. For the most part, Oakland will be what it has been the last couple of years, a very mediocre team.
Predicted Record: 76 – 86
The Seattle Mariners leave me with more questions than answers. This team overall has potential to succeed at a high level, however, they never seem to meet the expectations set for them, which is why this year I am finally hopping off the Mariners hope train.. While the Mariners continue to entice many with their underrated signings, lower end talent that shines, and solid managing that just seems to float on the edge of being fired and being good enough, I am saying no more. This team has hurt me too many times, and with Felix Hernandez getting older I do not see much that brings me back in. While the offense has several older marquee players, their age has become a factor in their play. Welcoming back Ichiro with open arms was heartwarming, and it will be nice to watch him play back in Seattle, but overall it was a meaningless deal. The addition of Dee Gordon was nice, but seeing as how he has to adapt to a new position it remains to be seen if he’ll be the same player he’s been in Miami. This is the type of players that the team has on their roster, and unfortunately it most likely will not payoff.
Predicted Record: 82 – 80
In a shocking twist, I think the Rangers might actually be the worst team in this division. With age being a factor across the board in both the lineup and rotation, there isn’t much of a “youth movement” going on in Arlington. While some of the players on the roster are still in their twenties, most are past their primes, leaving little to expect out of the team. Adrian Beltre is still an amazing player to watch, and Elvis Andrus will no doubt have a decent season, but the team for the most part does not have much to build upon going forward. The rotation looks fairly similar with Cole Hamels leading the staff, and with not much depth behind him, I really do not see how this team can consistently win games this season. On top of all of this, their bullpen might be one of the worst in the league, if not THE worst.. Put it all together with an average farm system and no prospects ready to get called up, you have a bleak outlook for the Texas Rangers this season.
Predicted Record: 74 – 88