MLB Preview & Predictions: AL West

2017 American League West Projected Standings:

  1. Texas Rangers
  2. Houston Astros
  3. Seattle Mariners
  4. Los Angeles Angels
  5. Oakland Athletics

Texas Rangers:

Similar to the Pittsburgh Pirates, I can never figure out the Rangers.  They have one of the best roster’s in the MLB, yet they are absolutely horrible in the playoffs.  With the loss of Prince Fielder, the Rangers are now going to lack in power by just a little bit.  He is ultimately ending his career himself, due to all of his neck injuries.  His body was taking a toll and when told by doctors to stop playing baseball, Prince was emotional during his press conference.  “My brain was good and my body just gave out,” Fielder said.  They made up for the loss by trading for Jonathan Lucroy at the Trade Deadline last season.  Lucroy put up phenomenal numbers last season, hitting .292 with twenty-four homeruns and an OBP of .355.

Star pitchers for the team are Cole Hamels and Yu Darvish, who are both coming off of amazing years.  Hamels pitched to a 15-5 record with a 3.32 ERA, along with a 4.9 WAR.  Darvish, with an almost similar ERA, posting a 3.41 the year after an arm injury.  He also had a 2.7 WAR with a 9-5 record, very mediocre, but still good enough to help his team.  Five-time Silver Slugger Adrian Beltre posted a .300 average, along with thirty-two homeruns and 104 RBI’s, which for a thirty-seven year old man, is awesome.  With help from Lucroy, Beltre, Carlos Gomez, Jurickson Profar, Elvis Andrus, and Rougned Odor, the Rangers should repeat as a top-tier team in the American League.  I expect Odor to have a jaw-dropping season, (I’m looking at you Jose Bautista), with massive power and defensive ability, he can absolutely carry this team to victory.

Houston Astros:

Coming off of a season where they were six games above .500, the Astros look to keep up the success that they have held for the past two seasons.  It was not that long ago that the Astros were one of the worst teams in baseball, having well under .500 seasons and finishing forty-five games back from first place.  This past off-season, they acquired Brian McCann, Josh Reddick, and Carlos Beltran, who are all going to play the coach/player role that will help this new, young, rejuvenated team.  Houston’s new third baseman is the young superstar in Alex Bregman.  Back in the minors, he hit .300 with a .388 OBP and twenty-four homeruns.  Last year, in forty-nine games, he hit .264 with eight homeruns and thirty-four RBI’s.  The kid can hit and above all, he can play defense.  Houston is going to benefit from this young man’s skill.

Their offense is going to be led by Jose Altuve, who has led the American League in hits for three consecutive seasons.  The four-time All-Star is also a stellar defender, that can help prevent extra base hits and can run.  In 2014 and 2015, he led the American League in stolen bases and in 2016, took a step back from the speed and focused on the power numbers, hitting his all-time high twenty-four last season.  He will be joined up the middle by Carlos Correa.  The former Rookie of the Year two years ago has shown that he has what it takes to play in the big leagues, hitting .274 with twenty homeruns last season.  The one player to watch this season for the Astros will be Carlos Beltran.  Last season, he proved that age indeed does not matter, in his age thirty-nine season, he hit .295 with twenty-nine homeruns.  Hopefully, the $16 million that Houston will be paying him this season will count for what it did last year.

Seattle Mariners: 

The Mariners subtlety had a great season last year, finishing ten games above .500 and second in the West.  I was actually very surprised that they finished in second over the really good Astros.  In his third season with the Mariners, Robinson Cano finally proved that he is worth the huge contract that he was given, hitting .298 with thirty-nine homeruns and 103 RBI’s.  Cano had an MVP caliber season also producing a 7.3 WAR, but finished eighth overall in the voting for the award.  Cano is a two-time Gold Glove winner, seven-time All-Star, and five-time Silver Slugger winner.  He’s slowly building himself a great case for the Hall of Fame after retirement.

Nelson Cruz and Kyle Seager combined for seventy-three homeruns and had an average of .282, which help lead the team to that 86-76 record.  Seager roams the infield along with Cano, Jean Segura, and Daniel Vogelbach.  Cruz, was once a right-fielder, but is now playing DH at Safeco Field.  The outfield is now patrolled by the speedy Jarrod Dyson, Leonys Martin, and Mitch Haniger.  King Felix Hernandez and Hisashi Iwakuma led the starting rotation for the team last season, where King Felix went 11-8 with a 3.82 ERA and Iwakuma went 16-12 with a 4.12 ERA.  One player to watch this season will be Robinson Cano and whether or not he can keep producing the same, high volume numbers and even bring them a playoff berth.

Los Angeles Angels: 

In the five full years that Mike Trout has been in the MLB, he has won two MVP’s (the three that he hasn’t won he finished second), five-time Silver Slugger, five-time All-Star, and also won Rookie of the Year.  He averages a .306 average, .405 OBP, and also thirty-four homeruns a year.  If this man is not a Hall of Famer, then I will never watch baseball again.  Getting off of Trout, the Angels’ pitching rotation is one thing that will scare me heading into the season.  Garrett Richards, Tyler Skaggs, Ricky Nolasco, Matt Shoemaker, and Jesse Chavez will head Mike Scioscia’s pitching staff heading into this season.  Although they do have some well-known named pitchers, they are still not the best around.

The Angels added to their roster this off-season by signing Cameron Maybin who last year, hit .315 in only 94 games.  Maybin is known for his defensive ability and he will roam left field for the team.  They also added Danny Espinosa, who is also known for his defensive ability.  Espinosa, who has played second base for the Nationals all of his career, will hopefully hit better in a new form of scenery.  He hit .226 in his seven year tenure in Washington but will play the infield with Yunel Escobar, Andrelton Simmons, and Luis Valbuena.  Martin Maldonado will play catcher and Pujols will play DH for the team.  I expect the team to finish around .500, maybe a couple of games under, with Mike Trout being the name player to watch.  Hopefully he will have another 10+ WAR season, along with another MVP.

Oakland Athletics: 

Now last and certainly not least, there is the Athletics.  They finished in dead last, twenty-six games behind the first place Rangers.  With a struggling team that is just trying to find where they fit in this league, they are officially in the rebuilding process.  The one highlight of their disastrous year last year was Khris Davis.  Davis, hit a remarkable forty-two homeruns last year and was tied for third in the league in that category along with Edwin Encarnacion and Brian Dozier.  Another story heading into this season will be Sonny Gray.  He pitched himself to a 5-11 record with a 5.69 ERA.  At one point in his young career, he looked as if he could have been a Cy Young award winner, going 14-7 with a 2.73 ERA back in 2015.

The A’s did add two key position players to help their outfield problem after losing Yoenis Cespedes about three years back.  They added Matt Joyce and Rajai Davis.  Davis can hit leadoff and if he were to get on base, steal.  The man can flat out run, having stole 188 bases in the previous five seasons.  Joyce, entering his tenth season in the big league’s, although is not the best player, you can trust him to play defense and be a good five or six hitter in your lineup.  The team will most likely end up as sellers around the Trade Deadline, potentially trading away Davis and Gray as they are still somewhat in their primes.  The one player to watch for this team will be Davis and whether or not he can keep up the insane power numbers that he showed everyone last season.

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