AL West Preview
Grab your peanuts and cracker jacks! Opening Day for Major League Baseball is finally here! As the players lace up their spikes and prepare for April baseball, we will go division by division previewing every team for the 2019 season.
Here we dive into the American League West:
2018: 103-59, first place, lost to Boston in ALCS
Team MVP: Carlos Correa
Manager: AJ Hinch (fifth season)
Big Additions: OF Michael Brantley, LHP Wade Miley, INF Aledmys Diaz, C Robinson Chirinos
Expected 2019 Division Finish: First
Outlook: The Astros are prepared for another World Series run this season. Alex Bregman, fresh off a five-year, $100-million extension, will look to build off of a career-high season last year. Jose Altuve and Carlos Correa are coming off of injury-riddled seasons and are expected to bounce back to 100 percent.
Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole headline a strong rotation, but Dallas Keuchel and Charlie Morton are both gone. The addition of Brantley will help bolster a strong outfield already containing George Springer. The back half of the rotation calls for the most concern, but this Houston team is well constructed for a deep playoff run and should take the division with ease.
2018: 97-65, second place, lost to New York Yankees in the wild-card
Team MVP: Matt Chapman
Manager: Bob Melvin (ninth season)
Big Additions: INF Jurickson Profar, OF Robbie Grossman, RHP Marco Estrada, RHP Joakim Soria, C Nick Hundley
Expected 2019 Division Finish: Second
Outlook: The Athletics shocked everyone last year when they made the playoffs for the first time since 2014. Chapman rose as a dominant defensive third baseman who could also be a dangerous hitter. DH Khris Davis is coming off of a season where he hit a career-high 48 home runs.
The rotation is a major question mark, with Marco Estrada and Mike Fiers holding the top two spots. The bullpen, however, is one of the deepest in baseball and should help the Athletics fight for a wild card spot yet again.
Los Angeles Angels
2018: 80-82, fourth place
Team MVP: Mike Trout
Manager: Brad Ausmus (first season)
Big Additions: C Jonathan Lucroy, RHP Matt Harvey, RHP Trevor Cahill, 1B Justin Bour
Expected 2019 Division Finish: Third
Outlook: The Angels locked in their star Mike Trout this offseason, signing him to a massive 12-year, $430-million extension. They have a new manager in Brad Ausmus for the first time since 2000. The additions of Lucroy and Bour add power to the lineup and upgrades defensively.
The pitching rotation added Harvey and Cahill but is still a major question leading into the season. Tyler Skaggs will headline the rotation, but Max Shoemaker and Garrett Richards are gone and AL Rookie of the Year Shohei Ohtani will be out until later in the season. They do not have much depth position wise, and Albert Pujols is becoming more of a burden by the seasons. The Angels will improve from their 80-win season a year ago, but a playoff run may be just out of reach for 2019.
2018: 89-73, third place
Team MVP: Edwin Encarnacion
Manager: Scott Servais (fourth season)
Big Additions: 1B/DH Edwin Encarnacion, OF/1B Jay Bruce, SS J.P. Crawford, SS Tim Beckham, LHP Yusei Kikuchi, OF Mallex Smith, RHP Hunter Strickland, LHP Justus Sheffield
Expected 2019 Division Finish: Fourth
Outlook: The Mariners have officially entered rebuilding mode. They lost 2B Robinson Cano and LHP James Paxton to New York, Jean Segura to Philadelphia, and also parted ways with RHP Juan Nicasio, OF Denard Span, DH Nelson Cruz, and RHP Alex Colome. They have made moves to bring in younger prospects and are looking towards the future.
Right-handed pitcher Félix Hernandez is not the same ace he used to be. Mallex Smith may be a player to build around in the outfield if he has a strong season. Expect the Mariners to be active at the trade deadline, but do not expect them to make a playoff run.
2018: 67-95, fifth place
Team MVP: Joey Gallo
Manager: Chris Woodward (first season)
Big Additions: 3B Asdrubal Cabrera, RHP Lance Lynn, RHP Shelby Miller, LHP Drew Smyly, OF Hunter Pence, RHP Shawn Kelley
Expected 2019 Division Finish: Fifth
Outlook: The Rangers are coming off of a bad season, short of 70 wins, and this year doesn’t look much better. They lost 3B Adrian Beltre, INF Jurickson Profar, and two rotation pieces in LHP Martin Perez and RHP Bartolo Colon. Joey Gallo will likely assume the leader position on this roster. The question remains: will he grow into a superstar in Texas?
The rotation is filled with pitchers who are boom or bust. Lynn, Miller, and Smyly join Edinson Vólquez and Mike Minor. Asdrubal Cabrera and Hunter Pence provide some veteran presence to the team. Overall, the Rangers will struggle to get to 70 wins again this season but may have some tricks up their sleeve for the future.
Preston Shoemaker is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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