Thursday, March 17, 2016

MLB Preview 2016: AL West

            We wrap up the American League portion of our preview with a look at the AL West. This division features two of last year's most pleasant surprises: the Houston Astros and the Texas Rangers. Will these two teams continue their storied uprisings this year? Let's take a look at what to expect from the AL West this year.

Houston Astros
Sweet Dream: Carlos Correa and Jose Altuve form one of the best hitting duos in baseball. They lead a Houston lineup that can steal on a dime (third-most stolen bases in baseball with 121). Dallas Keuchel (20-8, 2.48 ERA, 216 SO, 1.02 WHIP) continues his ascent. He also gets some help from Collin McHugh (19-7, 3.89 ERA, 171 SO) and Lance McCuellers (3.22 ERA, 129 SO, 1.19 WHIP in 22 starts) as Houston goes to the World Series.
Nightmare: The lineup (second-most strikeouts in MLB with 1,392) can't put the ball into play. The team can't duplicate their magic from last season as they suffer a sophomore slump en route to a season as high as .500.
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
Sweet Dream: Mike Trout (.299, 41 homers, 90 RBI, .402 OBP) and Albert Pujols (40 homers, 95 RBI) form a power-hitting duo. The outfield bats actually assists the lineup. Jered Weaver returns to form while Andrew Heaney builds on his good rookie campaign as the Angels make a return to the postseason.
Nightmare: Mike Trout can't find any help in the lineup as the Angels fail to get on base regularly. The pitching implodes. They can't turn to a barren farm system as they falter to at least 10 games below .500.
Oakland Athletics
Sweet Dream: The ninth-best rotation in baseball from last year (3.91 ERA) continues to impress as Henderson Alvarez has a solid season. Billy Burns makes for a good leadoff man as Oakland is in contention all the way into September.
Nightmare: The bullpen, along with everything else, stinks as usual. The Athletics get trapped in a good division as everyone else is up by 20 or more games. The Athletics remain at the bottom of the AL West as they trade Sonny Gray to a contender.
Seattle Mariners
Sweet Dream: Most of Jerry Dipoto's trades work. Joquain Benoit helps solidify the bullpen, Wade Miley makes for a good innings-eater, and Nori Aoki adds a bat that can rarely strike out. Robinson Cano continues his second-half surge from last season and Nelson Cruz (.302 BA, 44 homers, 93 RBI, .369 OBP) continues to mash. Taijuan Walker and James Paxton improve as the Mariners make the postseason for the first time since 2001 (they went 116-46 that year).
Nightmare: The lineup has a hard time utilizing the confines of Safeco Field. Felix Hernandez shows signs of wear as his ERA hovers around 3.50. Injuries plague the team and the pitching (22nd in overall ERA at 4.16) struggles once again. The M's fall 20 games below .500.
Texas Rangers
Sweet Dream: Shawn Tolleson (2.99 ERA, 35 saves, 1.15 WHIP, two blown saves) shows baseball fans why he's one of the better closers in the league while keeping the ball in the park. Prince Fielder (.305 BA, 23 homers, 98 RBI, .378 OBP, 187 hits) takes advantage of the hitter's park known as Globe Life Park along with the rest of the lineup. Delino DeShields and Elvis Andrus (combined for 50 stolen bases last year) aid the Rangers' baserunning as they show that last year was no fluke by returning to the top of the AL West.
Nightmare: Yu Darvish shows some rust in his return to baseball. Cole Hamels has a tough time in his first full season in the American League. Ian Desmond does absolutely nothing or becomes irrelevant. The bullpen struggles to hold onto leads as the Rangers fall to the bottom of the AL West.

No comments:

Post a Comment