This year, everyone’s jumping on the Astros bandwagon, with all their young talent I can see why. They won 84 games last season and have a core of stars like Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa, Alex Bregman, George Springer, and Dallas Keuchel. Let’s take a quick look at the five teams vying for the AL West crown, overall I think the division will finish…
- Houston Astros: The stars mentioned above are plenty enough firepower to contend in the AL West and dethrone the Rangers. The rotation has a potential to be good enough, but also has a potential to derail the season completely. The bullpen has an up and coming closer in Ken Giles. Veteran sluggers McCann and Beltran makes the potent lineup possibly the most formidable in baseball. At times, Houston will have hitters like Evan Gattis, Beltran, or McCann sitting on the bench! The strong farm system should help this year since it’s loaded with top right handed pitching prospects. Vegas Insider had them 6/1 odds to win, but now it’s 9/2 for the AL pennant. Prediction: It was 93 wins 69 losses, but the offense is looking so dynamic, I’ll now go 95 wins 67 losses (Division winner). Outrageous take: Blockbuster deal for Zack Greinke.
- Texas Rangers: One of the most consistently dominant teams in baseball this decade has the potential to win the West yet again. What’s alarming is the farm system is bereft of top end talent and there are huge question marks in the rotation after Darvish and Hamels. The lineup will continue to feature mashers Jonathan Lucroy, Adrian Beltre, Rougned Odor, and Mike Napoli. They literally could power their way to wins with the long ball and consistent arms coming out of the bullpen. Vegas Insider had them at 12/1, but it’s dropped to 15-1. Prediction stays at: 91 wins 71 losses (but no Wildcard). Rangers match Astros getting Greinke, by getting Alex Cobb.
- Oakland Athletics: With a strong bullpen, this could be an intriguing team this season (Vegas Insider still has them at 60/1 odds for the pennant). Mr. Moneyball has turned over the roster in recent seasons and he’s added some top prospects like 2B/SS Franklin Barreto (soon to be up) and LHP Jharel Cotton, who could be helping the team this season. The lineup will feature Khris Davis and Marcus Semien, but the bullpen will surprise with capable veterans Santiago Casilla, Rich Doolittle, John Axford, and Ryan Madson. Prediction was: 72 wins 90 losses, it’s now 74 wins 88 losses. Outrageous take: Beane can’t resist prospects and will move an effective Gray and Casilla to the Dodgers.
- Seattle Mariners: Vegas Insider still has them 12/1 to win the pennant. I really think this team has bust written all over it. The starting rotation (with a core of King Felix, Hisashi Iwakuma, Drew Smyly, James Paxton) at best will be average and more likely mediocre/injury plagued. The lineup will feature Nelson Cruz, Robinson Cano, Kyle Seager, but does an outfield featuring Jarrod Dyson, Leonys Martin, Mitch Haniger impress you? The Mariners top minor league prospect Tyler O’Neill should end up in the outfield sooner than later. I’ll stay with the prediction: 71 wins 91 losses. Outrageous take: many are wondering how long Ichiro will keep playing, it ends this season back in Seattle in a late season move.
- Los Angeles Angels: If you’re thinking it’s Trout and Pujols and that’s about it, then you may be on to something. Aside from the worst stable of prospects in baseball, I do think the Angels improved their everyday lineup and defense overall. An infield featuring Andrelton Simmons, Danny Espinosa, and Yunel Escobar will be better than what we’ve seen in Anaheim recently. The pitching staff, which literally seems like it was randomly put together, will need all the quality defense they can get to get out of jams all season. Vegas Insider had them at 20/1, now it’s 30-1. Prediction: I was thinking 68 wins 94 losses, but this team is worse than that. 65 wins 97 losses. Outrageous take: Mike Trout openly complains about the team’s lack of direction.