2019 MLB predictions preview: AL West

A division that can easily have three teams competing for playoff spots at the end of the year, the AL West is full of intriguing story lines and tremendous talent to watch out for in 2019. From a perennial winner with the Astros, everyone’s favorite underdog in the Athletics, and a team that everyone is waiting for to finally hit their stride and prove to everyone they are a top team in the Angels, the AL West has the potential to be one of the most competitive divisions in the AL. Check out my breakdown and predictions on each team in the AL West for the 2019 season.

Astros at Orioles 9/29/18” by Keith Allison is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

1. Houston Astros

Record: 103-59

Postseason Result: Lost in ALCS

Offseason Acquisitions: OF Michael Bradley, SP Wade Miley, IF Aledmys Diaz

Offseason Departures: SP Dallas Keuchel, C Evan Gattis, C Martin Maldanado, RP Charlie Sipp


2018-19 Preview/Big Question:

There is no doubt the Astros have one of the more complete rosters in all of the AL. 2B Altuve, OF Springer, 1B Bergman, SS Correra, SP Verlander and SP Cole are considered top talent at their respective positions in the league. With talent and veteran leadership, going into last year’s postseason, everyone thought the Red Sox were the team that would have to find a way to get passed the Astros, not the other way around. Houston was in the top five of the AL when it came to batting, pitching and in-fielding (Lead the AL in both Pitching and in-fielding), and it was evident through the ALDS. But they were just unable to keep it consistent enough to get past Boston.

With most pieces still intact from last year’s team and key additions like OF Michael Bradley, SP Wade Miley, and Utility Infielder Aledmys Diaz to add some depth, Houston is poised to make yet another run at a championship.

You look up and down their roster and you know they are going to score runs in a big way. Offense is not the worry for the Astros heading into the 2019 season. Keuchel is gone and now they are scrambling to see if they can find his replacement in the rotation. Though he had an off year, Keuchel can still hurl the ball at an elite level and will be missed by Houston. Look for Wade Miley to really step up along with Collin McHugh. If the Astros can keep that same consistency they had last year, then I do not see how getting back to at least the ALCS is an issue.

Heading into the 2019 season, for me, the biggest question is, can Houston get by Boston? Unless something catastrophic happens or another team comes out of nowhere, the road to the World Series is going through one of those two cities.

Prediction: 101-61, 1st in the West; World Series Champions.


2. Oakland Athletics

Record: 97-65 2nd in West

Postseason Result: Lost in Wildcard Round

Offseason Acquisitions: OF Robbie Grossman, INF Jurcikson Profar

Offseason Departures: 2B Jed Lowrie


2018-19 Preview/Big Question:

If baseball had a Cinderella team last year, then the Oakland A’s were wearing the crystal slippers. Coming of out of nowhere, the Athletics made an impressive run sliding into the wild card, only to lose to the Yankees.

All bets are showing that Oakland is ready to take a major step back, but I am here to say they are taking a big step forward. They have the bats to do so, and I think just enough pitching to get the job done. The likes of Khris Davis, Matt Chapman and Matt Olsen became some of the most unexpected big names in the Major Leagues last year. I am willing to bet they are going to follow it up with a big 2019 season. Oakland is a gritty team that knows how to get the job done no matter what it takes. When you look at the kind of season they had in 2018, you’d chalk it up to a fluke and expect a major downward slide in 2019. I just feel like they are something special over their in the bay area and will pick up where the left off.

The biggest question is, do they have the arms to continue their recent success? Oakland used an astonishing 15 starters last year. Injuries and inconsistent performance led to that and is still a huge question mark in 2019. I know it may sound cliche, but their success hurling the ball will be the difference from second in the AL West to fourth in the AL West. Can the likes of Mike Fiers, Marco Estrada and Brett Anderson withstand the pressure and put up consistent numbers?

Prediction: 99-63, Loses in the ALDS. I feel like they will end up just the same way last year, only because they cannot overthrow the Astros. This time it will not be as unexpected, and I think they will have a strong hold on that first wild card spot all year long.


3. Los Angeles Angels

Record: 80-82

Postseason Result: Missed Playoffs

Offseason Acquisitions: SP Matt Harvey, SP Trevor Cahill, 1B Justin Bour, INF Tommy La Stella

Offseason Departures: RHP Blake Parker, RHP Matt Shoemaker, RHP Alex Meyer


2018-19 Preview/Big Question:

The Washington Nationals of the AL. The Angles always seem to have good talent on the roster, but never are able to get the best out of them. New skipper Brad Ausmus will try to fix that and build a winning culture around a team that has not seen the playoffs now for five years. Good news is that the Angels took a major step in the right direction with the news that superstar Mike Trout signed on for the next 12 years, paying him a MLB record 430 million dollars over that span. Knowing now that Mike Trout is going no where may attract some talent to Los Angeles to bolster an already talented roster. 

The skill set of Trout still was not enough to keep the Angels from finishing fourth in the West and couldn’t finish .500 in 2018. Los Angeles did have some bright spots they can build off of from last season. Though pitching was very inconsistent last year, their defense played well when called upon. The league also knows that going into 2019, the Angels can change the course of a game with one swing of the bat. A solid hitting team with a lineup with names like Trout, Calhoun, Upton, Pujos, Bour and Luccroy for other teams to navigate through, not to mention Shobei Ohtani, who is recovering from Tommy John surgery, but no doubt will make a big difference in the batting order when he returns. The key to 2019 is to be more consistent when it comes to driving home runs, especially if their pitching needs to support.

Pitching though will be the question mark for the Angels, and if successful, will be the thing that will make them competitive with the Astros or Mariners. Finishing in the middle of the pack last year, the Angels need to see better results from Andrew Heaney(9-10, 4.15 ERA), Tyler Skaggs(8-10, 4.02 ERA) and Jaime Barria (10-9, 3.41 ERA). Noticing a need for talent in their starting rotation, the Angels did bring over Matt Harvey (7-9, 4.94 ERA) to see if he can rekindle past success with the Mets and Trevor Cahill (7-4, 3.76 ERA), who had a average season last year with the Phillies.

The big question for me heading into 2019 is, can they turn this talented roster in a winning roster? The Angles must put up runs consistently in order for that to happen and for me that will fall squarely on the performance and leadership of both Trout and manager Brad Ausmus. For me I cannot trust their inconsistencies in order to back them up this season because I truly think the Athletics are no fluke, but if it all clicks it wouldn’t surprise me if we hear they are making a run at the Astros towards the end of the season. 

Prediction: 90-72, misses playoffs.


4. Seattle Mariners

Record: 89-73

Postseason Result: Missed Playoffs

Offseason Acquisitions: SP Yusel Kikuchi, 1B Edwin Encarnacion, C Omar Narvaez, P Anthony Swarzak, OF Jay Bruce, OF Domingo Santiago, LHP Zac Rosscup

Offseason Departures: RHP Casey Lawerence, RHP Alex Colome, 2B Robinson Cano, RHP Edwin Diaz, OF Ben Gamel, RHP Noah Zavalos


2018-19 Preview/Big Question:

The Mariners saw a ton of ups and downs in the 2018 season. In response to that, the Mariners have been wheeling and dealing this offseason, unloading some big names and productive players to totally rebuild the team.

Newcomers to the west coast like Jay Bruce, Edwin Encarnacion and Yusel Kikcuhi are coming in with extremely high expectations. SP Kikcuhi has never pitched an inning in America, but was a star in Japan. Expect him to start opening day for Seattle and him to carry some very lofty expectations from Mariner fans all over the country. Seattle’s bats cooled off down the stretch last season. To prevent that happening this year, Seattle’s front office brought in OF Jay Bruce, who will most likely be the teams DH and 1B Edwin Encarnacion in hopes to prevent that in 2019.

Combine them with 3B Kyle Seager, who is looking for redemption after a injury plagued 2018, and the Mariners have a formidable lineup that could do some damage. Pitching though will be the biggest concern, specifically the relievers. Seattle made wholesale changes to their bullpen, which was one of the better bullpens in the AL last year.

The biggest question heading into the 2019 season for me is, can Seattle make a clear rebuilding season and turn it into a winning one? They have been turning over names left and right in hopes to build something that works. The Robinson Cano experiment didn’t really pan out the way they wanted it, and I think after last year’s failure to yet again make a post-season had something to do with them dealing Cano away.

Prediction: 78-84, misses playoffs 


5. Texas Rangers

Record: 67-95

Postseason Result: Missed playoffs

Offseason Acquisitions: SP Lance Lynn, Shelby Miller, Asdrubal Cabrera, Shaun Kelly, Hunter Pence,

Offseason Departures: C Robinson Chirinos, LHP Matt Moore, 3B Adrian Beltre, INF Jurickson Profar, RHP Rollie Lacey


2018-19 Preview/Big Question:

Hard to find anything that went right last year for the Texas Rangers. Just a couple of years ago, the Rangers were a formidable foe in the West and now have found themselves in the basement of the division with a long way to go to the top.

With pitching that neared dead last in the Majors last year, Texas made moves, but ultimately put a bandaid on the issue.. Though bringing in four starters this past off season, with Lance Lynn and Mike Minor holding solid spots right now in the rotation, the Rangers brought in a ton of players, but on what looks like one, maybe two year deals. Just enough to get them through the 2019 season.. I honestly think this rotation will be a question mark for the Rangers all season.

Although the Rangers hold some talent in this department, they were unable to really get it on track. LF, Shin Soo-Choo, 2B Rougned Odor, SS Elvis Andrus RF Nomar Mazara, and OF Joey Gallo can make up a fearsome lineup and has a ton of potential. But can they gel together as a team and be productive as a team? I think the Rangers will see some major improvement in this department in 2019.

The biggest question for me in 2019 is, can the Rangers just get better? I honestly do not see them making a run like the Athletics did last season, but they are talented enough with the bats to be better than what they saw in 2018. Not a whole lot better, but something to build on for the next couple of years.

Prediction: 70-92, fifth in AL West, misses playoffs


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