The Houston Astros got off to a blistering start last season but fell back a little during the dog days of the season. Is it finally their year to win a division title, something they haven’t done in almost 15 years?
1. Houston Astros (lost in ALDS): The Astros absolutely brought it last season and they look to follow that up with an even better campaign. Carlos Correa will be an AL MVP candidate while Dallas Keuchel will try to perform at his Cy Young level once again. If they do that, not only will the Astros be the best team in the AL West, they will also be one of the best teams in the AL and all of baseball. It’s hard to think that the Astros made the World Series in 2005 after all the struggles we’ve seen from them ever since. And now, over a decade later, they might be able to get there again.
2. Texas Rangers (lost in ALDS): How the heck did the Rangers manage to win the division last year and be a playoff team? There were injuries left and right for this team, most notably the loss of Yu Darvish before the season ever began. And here they were playing in October. Can you imagine what Texas is capable of when healthy? That’s a scary prospect, and that’s exactly what Prince Fielder, Shin-Soo Choo, and Cole Hamels hope to make other teams this season think.
3. Seattle Mariners: All of the hype going into last season surrounded the Washington Nationals and the Mariners. Neither one of those teams ended up making the postseason. With all the pressure on Houston, can Seattle have a breakout season? The big issue for this team last year was their bullpen, losing close games at the end. That was an emphasis for them during the offseason and now we get to see whether it paid off or not. Don’t go sleepless in Seattle this year. They are a definite dark horse candidate.
4. Los Angeles Angels: You have to feel bad for Mike Trout at some point. One of the best, if not the best, players in baseball and he’s surrounded by a bunch of hot garbage. With Albert Pujols likely to begin this season on the DL, the Angels may be in for a long campaign.
5. Oakland Athletics: Moneyball did not turn out so well last year for the A’s. Finishing 13 games under .500, a lot of things (emphasis on a lot) are going to have to go right in order for this team to compete in an AL West division that is as stacked with talent as ever.
Credit all authors of images used in both article and as cover image : Matt Weingarten