The American League West has been an extremely confusing division over the past five years, having a different winner in 4 of the last 5 seasons. In 2016 the Texas Rangers ran away with the wild, Wild West and have been the reigning champs for the past two seasons. Will the Rangers reign continue or is there another team that is poised to knock off the defending American League West champs?
My predictions are as follows:
- Houston Astros 92-70
- Texas Rangers 90-72
- Seattle Mariners 86-76
- Los Angeles Angels 80-82
- Oakland Athletics 76-86
There it is everybody. My very early predictions are in and I have the Houston Astros winning the American League West for the first time in team history. Why the Astros you ask? Let me explain.
In 2016 the Houston Astros finished in third place, and found themselves watching the postseason on their couches, a far cry from their Wild Card berth in 2015. The Astros are one of the youngest teams in the MLB. Their inexperience has been their kryptonite and has led them to underperform in pressure filled situations. During this offseason, the Astros front office addressed this issue head on, signing veterans Brian McCann, Josh Reddick, and Carlos Beltran. These three players will certainly add the veteran leadership and guidance that the young Astro players need.
On top of the veteran additions, the Astros have easily the greatest middle infield in the MLB. Carlos Correa and Jose Altuve lock down the middle of the diamond as well as the middle of the lineup. At the ripe age of 21, Correa blasted 20 home runs and compiled 96 RBIs. Altuve, who is just 26 years old, is a 3 time Silver Slugger and has accumulated over 200 hits in each of the past 3 seasons. The Astros don’t stop there. At the hot corner the Astros have Alex Bregman, who is an extremely promising young player. In their rotation, the Astros will be hoping for the resurgence of 2015 AL Cy Young Award winner, Dallas Keuchel. If Keuchel and Bregman can perform to their potentials in 2017, then the sky is the limit.
The Texas Rangers are still a team that has the potential to make a playoff push. The Rangers will be a Wild Card team in 2017 but should not be taken lightly. The Rangers have a shutdown rotation, headed by Yu Darvish and Cole Hamels. On the offensive side of the ball, the Rangers have a solid core. Adrian Beltre, Elvis Andrus, and rookie Joey Gallo will lock down the middle of their lineup. The Rangers and the Astros have constructed their rosters very similarly. Both rosters have a veteran presence with a multitude of young talented players. Things are going to start to heat up in Arlington so grab your sunscreen and a beach chair and get ready for a wild ride.
The Seattle Mariners have been an enigma to be for many years. Their roster is full of award winning candidates, but seems to never put it all together. The Mariners front office has done very little to improve this offseason because many believe they can make a push with their current roster. Unfortunately, this year is going to be no different. The Mariners will stay afloat for a while but will ultimately flounder in the dog days of August.
The Los Angeles Angels have been terrible for the past two seasons because of the huge contracts offered to Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton. This has deterred them from making a big push for free agents over the past few years. This year’s Angels team will have to suffer through another year of dismay. Once Pujols’ and Hamilton’s contracts come off the books, look for the Angels to become a team that can make a playoff push, unfortunately that is not going to be in 2017.
The Oakland Athletics will be sellers by the July 31st trade deadline. The A’s are a team that needs to start a rebuilding process immediately. Look for stud pitcher Sonny Gray to be dealt to a contender come July. This year is a chance to build their farm system and develop some of their young promising players.
The Wild, Wild West is going to be a very competitive division and is worth keeping an eye on. In the end, I believe the Houston Astros are poised to be the best in the West.