We continue our six-part MLB preview series with a look at the American League West.
Houston will take the division by a landslide, but anything short of a World Series appearance will be a disappointment. With 2B Jose Altuve and SS Carlos Correa healthy along with 3B Alex Bregman on the brink of stardom and the acquisition of OF Michael Brantley from Cleveland the Astros will have offense to spare. Starting pitchers Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole are true horses on a staff who lose Dallas Keuchel who remains unsigned. There is room for SP Wade Miley to have repeated success and fans are licking their chops for a call up of top pitching prospect Forrest Whitley.
The ever-so overachieving Oakland A’s will take a wild-card behind emerging star Matt Chapman who solidifies third base and 2018 homerun champ OF Khris Davis. The rotation doesn’t scare anyone but free agent acquisition SP Marco Estrada will get through the season. Question is what to do to prep for the post-season? Does Oakland make moves to bring in a proven arm?
3. Los Angeles
Even with undoubtedly the best player in the league, OF Mike Trout, the Los Angeles Angels will squander another season. 1B/DH Albert Pujols will hit career milestones this season but has been a shell of his prime years. Angel fans will have to wait another season to see if Japan phenom Shoehei Ohtani can excel in both pitching and hitting though may split time in 2019 as a designated hitter. For a rotation of starting pitchers, Matt Harvey and Trevor Cahill are two unremarkable free-agents who will almost certainly land on the disabled list for a stint or two. That leaves SP Tyler Skaggs, who is solid but not a #1, the teams’ ace.
Seattle shipped 2B Cano and SP Paxton to the Big Apple and DH Cruz to Minnesota leaving OF Jay Bruce, DH Edwin Encarnacion, 3B Kyle Seager, and an ever-so declining King Felix as the teams’ star power. The highlight of the season could be in Japan when Ichiro takes the field.
Ranger fans will have to get used to a rotation full of at best no.3 starters. The entire staff of Lance Lynn, Shelby Miller, Mike Minor, Drew Smyly, and Edison Volquez all have trade potential if a deal arises. 1B Joey Gallo had more home runs, 40, than singles, 38, in 2018 and that must change if Texas is to start contending.