American League West
Breakdown and Prediction
I’d like to welcome everyone to a crazy division! The American League West was won by the Oakland Athletics last season with a record of 36-24. Three consecutive seasons before that it was owned by the Houston Astros. Texas Rangers went from first to worst real quick after winning the division in 2015 and 2016. The Los Angeles Angels have had the best player in the game since 2011 and have only managed to win the division one time (2014). Seattle Mariners have not been good since the Lou Piniella days when they won the title in 2001.
There have been several big name players leave the division, George Springer to name one. We shall see how those teams adjust and manage loss of production. Honestly, I think three teams have a legitimate shot to take it. If you read the first two installments of Breakdown & Predictions then you, like the 2017 Astros, already know what’s coming!
The Texas Rangers have fallen from grace fairly quickly. From winning the division two years in a row in 2015 and 2016, to not coming close to the top each season after. They are looking to rebuild and get back to competing in the West. They traded away Andrus in a five player deal that landed them outfielder Khris Davis and catcher Jonah Heim. The eight year veteran, Davis, has a career .243 BA with .495 SLG. In 2018 he lead the league in HRs with 48. Joey Gallo is an Allstar who brings pop to the line up. The combo of Davis and Gallo should put up decent numbers. The pitching staff needs repair, badly. Lance Lynn was the leader of the staff and is now a White Sox. Rangers will find themselves at the bottom of the division again.
The Seattle Mariners look to be a young team with plenty of potential. Mariners have reigning AL Rookie of the Year Kyle Lewis manning Centerfield. After being a late season call up in September of 2019, Lewis went on to validate his hype in 2020. The young stud has a career .264 BA with .477 SLG. Kyle Seager is the veteran on this squad and brings great leadership. He played all 60 games last season and hit .241 with 9 homeruns. James Paxton makes his return back to Seattle after a two year stint with the Yankees. Paxton aka The Big Maple has a career 3.58 ERA and 1.21 WHIP. Justin Dunn is a name to keep an eye out for. The 25 year old righty went 4 – 1 with 4.34 ERA and 68 strikeouts last season. Seattle’s future is promising if they manage to keep the pieces together and allow them to grow.
The Houston Astros won the division three years in a row before coming in second last season. From 2017 to 2019, the Astros won the division title winning over 100 games each season. They dominated the AL West and practically the entire league. However, this is a different team now. The turmoil of the garbage can scandal has come and gone. Only several players remain from that squad and basically none of the coaches. The stars are still bright as ever in Houston. Their line up is incredible. Alex Bregman is a 2x Allstar along with a Silver Slugger award winner. The 26 year old has a career .283 BA with a 23.4 WAR. The middle infield can be put up among the best in the league with Correa and Altuve. The 2009 Cy Young Award winner, Zack Greinke, leads the staff that will have Justin Verlander on the shelf to start the season. Greinke, now 37 years old, has a career 3.37 ERA and 1.15 WHIP. I see Houston still making the playoffs but not winning the division this year.
The Los Angeles Angels are due for a breakout season. This could finally be the year they find themselves in the hunt down the stretch. Offensively, they should put up incredible numbers. When you factor in Mike Trout, Anthony Rendon, Albert Pujols, Justin Upton and Shohei Ohtani all in the same line up – sheesh. That looks to be a recipe for plenty of production. Trout could be, when it is all said and done, the greatest baseball players to ever play the game. He is a Rookie of the Year, 3x League MVP, 8x Allstar, 8x Silver Slugger – the list goes on and on. Anthony Rendon is no slouch. The 30 year old third baseman is ranked in many people’s top ten list of best players in the game. The pitching staff is made up of solid arms with the likes of Dylan Bundy, Jose Quintana and Alex Cobb. I think they will certainly be a competitor to the end and find themselves in the post-season.
The Oakland Athletics, my goodness the Oakland Athletics! They win the division last season with a 36 and 24 record. I’d say they are the most complete team in the division. They trade for Elvis Andrus this offseason to come in and play shortstop. They already have Matt Chapman and Matt Olsen who are studs in their own right. The 27 year old third baseman, Chapman, is a 2x Platinum Glove winner and a career .255 hitter. Olson, 26 year old, first baseman in a 2x Gold Glove winner and has a career slugging percentage of .500. Jesus Luzardo is a 23 year old lefty with plenty of talent. He has ‘ace’ stuff. The bullpen is stacked with solid arms. They get Trevor Rosenthal to be their 9th inning guy. I really like this team a lot. I think it will come down to a few games separating them and the Angels for the title but in the end the Athletics will take the crown.
I love this division. It is a division of grinders. This one is going to be a dog fight to the finish. I have Oakland winning it all and getting a high seed in the playoffs. The Angels will be right on their heals and it would be awesome if both teams met in the post-season. Can’t wait!