The Houston Astros stand tall in this division as the clear-cut favorite to win the AL West and arguably the American League. The biggest question is did anyone in this division do enough to inch closer to challenge the Astros. The Angels went all in signing the most hyped free agent of the offseason in Shohei Ohtani. The Mariners have looked like a contender on paper for a few years now, but injuries have derailed their hopes. Oakland had your typical Billy Beane offseason. Texas revamped most of their pitching staff in an effort to get back to the postseason. I would not be shocked if any one of the teams in this division makes the playoffs this year.

Houston Astros

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Who’s New To Help Cause” – Gerrit Cole (Trade with PIT), Joe Smith (Free Agent), Hector Rondon (Free Agent)

Addition By Subtraction?” – Joe Musgrove (Trade with PIT), Michael Feliz (Trade with PIT), Colin Moran (Trade with PIT), Carlos Beltran (Retirement), Mike Fiers (Free Agent), Luke Gregerson (Free Agent), Francisco Liriano (Free Agent), Cameron Maybin (Free Agent), Tyler Clippard (Free Agent)

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A Successful season for the Astros looks like this:

Lets be honest here… anything other than another World Series Championship is a bust. It’s as simple as that with a team with the talent of the Houston Astros.

Let’s look ahead to October shall we… Reigning AL MVP Jose Altuve will have led the AL in hitting for the fourth time in five years and Carlos Correa would have continued to build on his successful 2017 season. Justin Verlander now has a full season under his belt with the Astros and surely continued his resurgence since coming over from the Tigers near the end of last season. Dallas Keuchel and Verlander are both top eight in Cy Young Voting with an “Anything you can do, I can do better” approach. Newly acquired Gerrit Cole, often injured Lance McCullers Jr, and Charlie Morton should form the best back end of the rotation in baseball. Who to keep out of the playoff rotation? I’m glad I don’t have to make that decision.

An Unsuccessful Season for the Astros looks like this:

With the amount of talent that Houston has, how could they possibly be unsuccessful? World Series hangover? The entire team could come down with an injury bug causing the Astros to somehow not make the playoffs, but we can talk about realistic expectations now. Maybe they look more like the 2016 Astros that was one of the worst in the league in strikeouts? That remains to be seen.

As I said above, World Series Title or bust is the plan for Houston.  The Astros will be good but the other contenders in the league have been improving as well. The Yankees got much better on paper and could give the Astros a run for their money come October. The Indians solid pitching can take down even the best of teams. It just remains to be seen as to what the Astros path to the World Series will look like.

Absolutely Correct Prediction:

I have them going 97-65 while these other famous projections have them going like this:

AL WESTFanGraphsPECOTAUSA Today
Houston Astros98-6499-63100-62
Los Angeles Angels86-7680-8286-76
Seattle Mariners81-8183-7981-81
Texas Rangers78-8477-8580-82
Oakland Athletics77-8577-8574-88

Here’s why I will be right…

Lets be honest, if the Astros don’t win this division something catastrophic had to happen. The Astros are the best team in baseball and I don’t see a World Series hangover happening with this team.

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

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Who’s New To Help Cause” – Shohei Ohtani (Free Agent), Zack Cozart (Free Agent), Ian Kinsler (Trade with DET), Jim Johnson (Trade with ATL), Rene Rivera (Free Agent), Chris Carter (Free Agent)

Addition By Subtraction?” – CJ Cron (Trade with TB), Tim Lincecum (Free Agent), Ricky Nolasco (Free Agent), Brandon Phillips (Free Agent)

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A Successful season for the Angels looks like this:

Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani have become the best of friends. The Angels are very hopeful that their big sweepstakes win pays off as the much hyped “Japanese Babe Ruth” takes the league by storm. Mike Trout should continue to do Mike Trout things. If the Angels didn’t have Mike Trout, their offense in the previous few seasons would have been historically abysmal. 2018 should be a different story with the additions of Ian Kinsler and Zack Cozart and the resigning of Justin Upton. The pitching staff should be helped out by quite possibly the best defensive team in baseball featuring an outfield of Upton, Trout, and Kole Calhoun and a middle infield of Kinsler and Andrelton Simmons.

An Unsuccessful Season for the Angels looks like this:

The Angels have not won a postseason game since 2009 and missed the playoffs for a third consecutive season last year. Pitching injuries held them back like most of the teams in this division. Ohtani should hopefully change that, right? Maybe, not. Ohtani pitched only 2.2 innings during Spring Training and had a 27.00 ERA. There was even some talk of Ohtani starting in the minors but he’ll ultimately start the season with the big league club. The Angels may need to make a decision early in the season whether they value Ohtani or the playoffs more.

Absolutely Correct Prediction:

I have them going 83-79 while these other famous projections have them going like this:

AL WESTFanGraphsPECOTAUSA Today
Houston Astros98-6499-63100-62
Los Angeles Angels86-7680-8286-76
Seattle Mariners81-8183-7981-81
Texas Rangers78-8477-8580-82
Oakland Athletics77-8577-8574-88

Here’s why I will be right…

I think ultimately the Angels will be contenders this season, but an up and down season from the pitching staff will be their downfall. I have less confidence in the health of the Angels pitching staff than any other team in this division.

Oakland Athletics

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Who’s New To Help Cause” – Stephen Piscotty (Trade with STL), Jonathan Lucroy (Free Agent), Trevor Cahill (Free Agent)

Addition By Subtraction?” – Ryon Healy (Trade with SEA) and Jesse Hahn (Trade with KC)

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A Successful season for the Athletics looks like this:

Progression of their younger players is key to their success in 2018. Sean Manaea had a decent 2017 and will look to be a little more consistent this season.

The players they acquired this offseason definitely have their flaws, but they were all low risk in terms of cost. Bringing in Stephen Piscotty was the biggest move that Billy Beane made this offseason. Piscotty is looking to return his 2016 form while being closer to his mother, who is suffering from ALS. Jonathan Lucroy is also looking to return to his 2016 form. Lucroy seemed to crack under pressure in 2017 when he was in a contract year. Maybe playing on a team with less than high expectations can lead to a resurgence for Lucroy.

An Unsuccessful Season for the Athletics looks like this:

A big disappointment for Oakland would be that their young prospects regress. They have already been dealt a big blow with Jharel Cotton set to undergo Tommy John Surgery. Matt Chapman and Matt Olson broke out in the second half season as middle of the order bats. A regression of “The Matts” could set Oakland back by a year of two.

Absolutely Correct Prediction:

I have them going 75-87 while these other famous projections have them going like this:

AL WESTFanGraphsPECOTAUSA Today
Houston Astros98-6499-63100-62
Los Angeles Angels86-7680-8286-76
Seattle Mariners81-8183-7981-81
Texas Rangers78-8477-8580-82
Oakland Athletics77-8577-8574-88

Here’s why I will be right…

Oakland won 31 of the final 59 games last season but I think this will be sort of a transitional season for Oakland. Their pitching is young, and their offense should carry them at times. Billy Beane is slowly but surely building a consistent winner but this season run prevention will be their biggest flaw.

Seattle Mariners

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Who’s New To Help Cause” – Dee Gordon (Trade with MIA), Juan Nicasio (Free Agent), Ichiro Suzuki (Free Agent), Ryon Healy (Trade with OAK)

Addition By Subtraction?” – Yonder Alonso (Free Agent), Jarrod Dyson (Free Agent), Danny Valencia (Free Agent)

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A Successful season for the Mariners looks like this:

A season for the Mariners cannot be considered a success without playing in the playoffs. For the past five years, I’ve thought that the Mariners offense should be strong enough to be successful. I was shocked to read they had not made the playoffs since Ichiro’s rookie season in 2001.

How do the Mariners plan to get back to the playoffs? By bringing back the cornerstone of that 2001 team! Ichiro is back! Okay… maybe that’s not the only plan. Ichiro should be their starting left-fielder on Opening Day while waiting for Ben Gamel to return. The big move this offseason was acquiring Dee Gordon to shift from second base to centerfield. Pairing the former NL Batting Champion with Jean Segura should bring a dynamic to this Mariners offense it has lacked over the past few years. I would not be surprised at all if the Mariners led the majors in stolen bases next year.

Bringing in Juan Nicasio could be the biggest payoff for the Mariners. They have lacked a solid setup man for awhile to pair with Edwin Diaz.

An Unsuccessful Season for Mariners looks like this:

Injuries… injuries… injuries. Overall season health over the past few years has crippled the Mariners postseason chances. The pitching staffs health will be critical once again this upcoming season. Felix Hernandez is a shell of his former self and as of right now he’s not even their best pitcher. The “Ace” of the Mariners James Paxton has battled with his own injury problems. Can Mike Leake have the same success as he had after being traded to the Mariners? Can Erasmo Ramirez stay healthy? If one pitcher goes down, this season could be a long one for the Mariners.

Absolutely Correct Prediction:

I have them going 85-77 while these other famous projections have them going like this:

AL WESTFanGraphsPECOTAUSA Today
Houston Astros98-6499-63100-62
Los Angeles Angels86-7680-8286-76
Seattle Mariners81-8183-7981-81
Texas Rangers78-8477-8580-82
Oakland Athletics77-8577-8574-88

Here’s why I will be right…

While I’m not sure the Mariners make the playoffs with 85 wins, it’s certainly possible. They are the second best team in this division right now. Lets just hope their pitching will write off all the critics and stay healthy this season.

Texas Rangers

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Who’s New To Help Cause” – Tim Lincecum (Free Agent), Matt Moore (Trade with SF), Mike Minor (Free Agent), Doug Fister (Free Agent), Jesse Chavez (Free Agent), Chris Martin (Free Agent).

Addition By Subtraction?” – Carlos Gomez (Free Agent), Mike Napoli (Free Agent), Andrew Cashner (Free Agent), Miguel Gonzalez (Free Agent), Nick Martinez (Japan)

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A Successful season for the Rangers looks like this:

What truly constitutes success for the Rangers this season? If I’m being honest, your guess is as good as mine.

In a span of 8 months, the Rangers traded their most talented pitcher at the Trade Deadline and lost their best pitcher from 2017 to free agency. This gave Jon Daniels one sole purpose this offseason and that was to revamp his teams pitching staff. Jon Daniels brought in veteran names like Moore, Fister, and Minor that should pair well with de-facto ace Cole Hamels and Martin Perez.

The offense is coming back similar to what we saw last year. One of the bright spots last year was the play of Joey Gallo. After a two year span in which he saw just 133 Major League at bats, Gallo had one of the most compelling seasons in recent memory. Kenny Ducey from SI described Gallo as “the first and last guy that pitchers want to see in the box—a 6’5” free-swinging mountain who can either miss a pitch by a foot or deposit it into the second deck.” Gallo ended his season hitting .209 with 41 HRs and 80 RBIs. If Joey can hit anywhere near .240 this will be a massive success for the Rangers.

An Unsuccessful Season for the Rangers looks like this:

If the Rangers don’t cut down the strikeouts in 2018, it will be a very unsuccessful season. Rougned Odor and Joey Gallo are notorious for striking out helping the team finish with the top five most strikeouts in the major leagues last year.

The Rangers success this year will live and die on their pitching staff. They’re looking for bounce-back seasons from their entire pitching staff. Cole Hamels battled injuries and had his worst season of his career in 2017. Martin Perez got in a fight with a bull over the offseason and has been inconsistent throughout his whole career. Matt Moore and Doug Fister sound great on paper but their past two seasons have not been successful. Lastly, Mike Minor had a solid year last year for the Royals but that was exclusively from the pen. Don’t even get me started on Texas converting pitchers to the starting rotation… CJ Wilson singlehandedly killed the careers of Neftali Feliz and Tanner Scheppers simply by having success transitioning to the starting rotation. Fortunately, that’s a debate for another day.

Absolutely Correct Prediction:

I have them going 79-83 while these other famous projections have them going like this:

AL WESTFanGraphsPECOTAUSA Today
Houston Astros98-6499-63100-62
Los Angeles Angels86-7680-8286-76
Seattle Mariners81-8183-7981-81
Texas Rangers78-8477-8580-82
Oakland Athletics77-8577-8574-88

Here’s why I will be right…

I think Texas will make some strides on the offensive side of the ball with Delino DeShields finally being consistently in the starting lineup. The pitching still has too many question marks for me to say that I believe the Rangers are going to be a Wild Card contender this year. This team does not have a defined direction to me. Jon Daniels will tell you they’re trying to make the playoffs this year but I’m certain they’re already looking forward to that stacked 2019 Free Agent Class.

Possibly The Most Accurate AL West Predictions Ever

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