With the World Series Champion Astros poised once again to win both their division and potentially a consecutive championship, it’s hard to imagine any team in the AL West seriously challenging them. However, the Los Angeles Angels are hard to ignore as they possess one of the most intriguing two-way players since Babe Ruth in Shohei Ohtani. While this potential blockbuster addition will most likely not be enough to supplant the Astros as the eventual winners of the AL West, it should at the very least make the battle for first place in the division a bit more contentious than it otherwise would have been. If nothing else, the high-powered offense of the Astros should be more than enough to entertain baseball fanatics that are ready to accept the youth movement that is now apart of most of the highly successful teams in the majors.
5. Seattle Mariners
An aging roster that is now being slowly disintegrated because of nagging injuries sustained during Spring Training, the Mariners are all but assured to finish near the basement of the AL West. While Nelson Cruz and Robinson Cano are more than capable of entertaining their suffering fan base initially, Seattle’s abysmal starting rotation will be a constant reminder that this team would probably be best served by trading what superstars they possess and reload their anemic farm system to eventually become a competitive franchise in a few years.
4. Texas Rangers
Not so long ago, the Rangers actually had an exciting and gifted power hitting team that was able to overcome their starting pitching inconsistencies. However, the Rangers home run derby-like performances were few and far between last year as they finished the season with one of the weakest slugging percentages in baseball (.403). Combined that with the fact that starting pitchers Yu Darvish and Andrew Cashner are now with other teams and it becomes sadly apparent that the Rangers only hope of avoiding a last-place finish in the AL West is the injury-laden Mariners being competitively inept this year.
3. Oakland Athletics
With a starting rotation that slowly but actually became competent last season (.251 BAA, 6th in MLB), the Athletics appear poised to be a team that can hang around from a competitive standpoint. While the Athletics still may not have the hitters that can get on base consistently, the like of Khris Davis, Matt Joyce, and Ryon Healy will allow this team to score in bunches with the immense power that they possess. Although they may be a fringe Wild Card contender at best this season, they are definitely trending in the right direction and will be a team to watch down the stretch of the regular season.
2. Los Angeles Angels
Until we can see what the versatile Shohei Ohtani can do as a pitcher and hitter in the majors, it’s difficult to say how much of an impact the gifted athlete will contribute this year. However, if ever there was a known quantity in baseball it is unequivocally epitomized by the annual superstar performances of Mike Trout. With that being said, the Angels pitching roster will need to be far better than it was last season (6.27 ERA last season) if they hope to make the most of the prolific playmakers that they currently possess.
1. Houston Astros
Given what they possess offensively and defensively amongst their infielders alone (Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman, Carlos Correa), the Astros are a team that has the youth and off the charts talent to challenge anyone they may face this year. When you add to the mix the Astros deep and capable starting rotation led by ace Dallas Keuchel, it becomes readily apparent that this team is once again built to be the best team in both their division and in the majors. Barring serious injuries throughout their roster, the Astros will be incredibly difficult to stifle during both the regular season and postseason.