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Astros should win their third AL West title in a row

Houston Astros starting pitcher Gerrit Cole delivers during an exhibition game against the Washington Nationals on March 3.

A look at every team in the American League West and their 2019 predicted order of finish.

AL WEST

1 | ASTROS

2018 | 103-59, 1st in West

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Last year in playoffs | 2018

The loss of veteran starters Dallas Keuchel and Charlie Morton put a sizable dent in the rotation, but the Astros still have two dominant starters in Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole. Houston’s bullpen is as deep as any in baseball. A lineup featuring George Springer, Alex Bregman, Jose Altuve and Carlos Correa is strong, though just a shade less potent than the Red Sox and Yankees. The Astros may not be World Series favorites, but they have enough to win their third straight division title.

2 | ATHLETICS

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2018 | 97-65, 2nd in West

Last year in playoffs | 2018

The rotation is again a major question mark, but the A’s won 97 games while going through essentially two full rotations last season, and they appear to have good depth again with 21-year-old left-hander Jesus Luzardo, who has the makings of a star, and right-handers Daniel Mengden and Paul Blackburn. A deep and capable bullpen that ranked second in the league with a 3.37 ERA in 2018 should be terrific. The defense—especially at the corner infield spots—is excellent, and a Khris Davis-powered lineup should score plenty of runs.

3 | ANGELS

2018 | 80-82, 4th in West

Last year in playoffs | 2014

Mike Trout enters his eighth full season in search of his first playoff victory. It will take considerable overachievement by a thin rotation and relief corps for the best all-around player in baseball to return to the October stage he craves. The Angels made incremental upgrades to the rotation with Matt Harvey and Trevor Cahill, but Andrew Heaney (elbow inflammation) will open the season on the injured list. The bullpen has plenty of power arms but not much experience. An expected May return of slugger Shohei Ohtani will help.

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4 | RANGERS

2018 | 67-95, 5th in West

Last year in playoffs | 2016

The retirement of probable Hall of Fame third baseman Adrian Beltre, a five-time Gold Glove Award winner, left huge voids in the lineup and the infield, but there is still good power with Joey Gallo, who hit 81 homers the past two seasons, and Rougned Odor, Shin-Soo Choo, Nomar Mazara and Asdrubel Cabrera, who each hit 20 homers or more last season. The rotation has been rebuilt with veterans, and while the bullpen lacks depth, the Rangers have one of the baseball’s best young closers in Jose Leclerc.

5 | MARINERS

2018 |89-73, 3rd in West

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Last year in playoffs | 2001

Jerry Dipoto didn’t think the Mariners were ready to compete with the Astros, so the GM dismantled an 89-win team, trading 57-save closer Edwin Diaz, middle infielders Jean Segura and Robinson Cano, pitcher James Paxton and catcher Mike Zunino and allowing slugger Nelson Cruz to leave as a free agent. What’s left is a decent rotation, a mish-mash of a bullpen, a patchwork lineup that will be without injured third baseman Kyle Seager until May and five or six prospects that Seattle hopes will make it competitive by 2021.

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mike.digiovanna@latimes.com

Follow Mike DiGiovanna on Twitter @MikeDiGiovanna


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