By Ethan Salm
The Houston Astros are coming off their second straight season of making it to at least the ALCS. They will look to continue that streak this year and they will start that journey by winning the AL west for the third straight year. They have two elite starting pitchers in Gerrit Cole and Justin Verlander. They’re missing quite a bit, however, with Dallas Keuchel not on the roster, Lance McCullers Jr. is out for the entire season due to Tommy John surgery, and Charlie Morton signing with Tampa Bay. Even then, they still have the best starting rotation in the division. Their lineup is covered in all stars as well. Jose Altuve has the potential to produce an MVP season once again. Alex Bregman had 103 RBI last year and is looking to repeat that this year. Bregman also plays phenomenal defense at the hot corner and the Astros are just a great defensive team in general. The bullpen is strong and headlined by Roberto Osuna again this year. They should win this division by at least 10 games.
Sliding in behind Houston will be the Oakland Athletics. This team surprised everyone last year and took the second wild card spot. The A’s have one of the best defensive players in the league, star third baseman Matt Chapman. He is a Gold Glove winner and had a productive season at the plate with 68 RBI. They also have another gold glove winner in first baseman Matt Olson. They also have Kris “Krush” Davis. Davis lead the American League in home runs and knocked in 123 RBI. Losing Jed Lowrie will definitely hurt the A’s, but I believe other players will step up and fill his shoes. The bullpen returns ace closer Blake Treinen and will probably outshine their mediocre starting rotation once again this season. They are a team to watch as I can see them once again trying to push for a wild card spot.
After the A’s I think the Los Angeles Angels jump Seattle. Mike Trout is a top-5 player in the league. His offense and defense are on a different level than the rest of the league. Justin Upton is still a great talent in the outfield and Kole Calhoun was productive last year before getting injured. Ohtani will make a difference once again after the Japanese sensation recovers fully from Tommy John surgery. Andrelton Simmons is a great defensive shortstop and also contributes from the plate. The Halos lack an Ace starter, but Andrew Heaney looked decent last year. They also have Trevor Cahill and Matt Harvey to create a decent rotation.
The downward tumble of Seattle continued this offseason. The Mariners looked like a team destined to make the playoffs last year, but it just wasn’t meant to be. Seattle saw division foe Oakland take their wild card spot and the Mariners, instead of going out and getting better, decided to blow it up this offseason. They lost Nelson Cruz, Jean Segura, James Paxon, Edwin Diaz, and Robinson Cano. Each player was the heart of the team last year. That’s their best starter, their best reliever, and three big time position players. They burned everything they had to the ground. That cements them firmly in fourth as they do not have the talent to get any higher.
The Texas Rangers were not good last year and finished last in this division. I see more of the same from the heart of Texas this year. Unfortunately, they did not add or develop enough talent to compete in this division. Look for another last place finish for the Rangers.
2018 Final Standings
- Los Angeles Angels
Ethan’s Projection for 2019:
- Los Angeles Angels
Playoff Teams: Oakland, Houston.
Edited by Garrett Jones | firstname.lastname@example.org