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Astros should win their third AL West title in a row

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. (Jeff Roberson / Associated Press)

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

AL WEST

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1 | ASTROS

2018 | 103-59, 1st in West

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.

2019 Houston Astros

Projected batting order

Player Position
Player1. George Springer PositionCenter field
Player2. Alex Bregman PositionThird base
Player3. Jose Altuve PositionSecond base
Player4. Carlos Correa PositionShortstop
Player5. Michael Brantley PositionLeft field
Player6. Yuli Gurriel PositionFirst base
Player7. Josh Reddick PositionRight field
Player8. Tyler White PositionDesignated hitter
Player9. Robinson Chirinos PositionCatcher

Pitching

Pitching rotation Throws
Pitching rotationJustin Verlander ThrowsRight-handed
Pitching rotationGerrit Cole ThrowsRight-handed
Pitching rotationCollin McHugh ThrowsRight-handed
Pitching rotationWade Miley ThrowsLeft-handed
Pitching rotationBrad Peacock ThrowsRight-handed
Pitching rotationCloser Throws
Pitching rotationRoberto Osuna ThrowsRight-handed
Pitching rotationSetup Throws
Pitching rotationRyan Pressly ThrowsRight-handed

2 | ATHLETICS

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.

2019 Oakland Athletics

Projected batting order

Player Position
Player1. Robbie Grossman PositionLeft field
Player2. Matt Chapman PositionThird base
Player3. Stephen Piscotty PositionRight field
Player4. Khris Davis PositionDesignated hitter
Player5. Matt Olson PositionFirst base
Player6. Jurickson Profar PositionSecond base
Player7. Marcus Semien PositionShortstop
Player8. Nick Hundley PositionCatcher
Player9. Ramon Laureano PositionCenter field

Pitching

Pitching rotation Throws
Pitching rotationMike Fiers ThrowsRight-handed
Pitching rotationMarco Estrada ThrowsRight-handed
Pitching rotationBrett Anderson ThrowsLeft-handed
Pitching rotationFrankie Montas ThrowsRight-handed
Pitching rotationAaron Brooks ThrowsRight-handed
Pitching rotationCloser Throws
Pitching rotationBlake Treinen ThrowsRight-handed
Pitching rotationSetup Throws
Pitching rotationJoakim Soria ThrowsRight-handed

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.

2019 Los Angeles Angels

Projected batting order

Player Position
Player1. Kole Calhoun PositionRight field
Player2. Mike Trout PositionCenter field
Player3. Justin Upton PositionLeft field
Player4. Albert Pujols PositionDesignated hitter
Player5. Justin Bour PositionFirst base
Player6. Andrelton Simmons PositionShortstop
Player7. Zack Cozart PositionThird base
Player8. Jonathan Lucroy PositionCatcher
Player9. David Fletcher PositionSecond base

Pitching

Pitching rotation Throws
Pitching rotationTyler Skaggs ThrowsLeft-handed
Pitching rotationMatt Harvey ThrowsRight-handed
Pitching rotationTrevor Cahill ThrowsRight-handed
Pitching rotationJaime Barria ThrowsRight-handed
Pitching rotationFelix Pena Throws
Pitching rotationCloser Throws
Pitching rotationCody Allen ThrowsRight-handed
Pitching rotationSetup Throws
Pitching rotationTy Buttrey ThrowsRight-handed

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.

2019 Texas Rangers

Projected batting order

Player Position
Player1. Shin-Soo Choo PositionDesignated hitter
Player2. Rougned Odor PositionSecond base
Player3. Elvis Andrus PositionShortstop
Player4. Nomar Mazara PositionRight field
Player5. Asdrubel Cabrera PositionThird base
Player6. Joey Gallo PositionLeft field
Player7. Ronald Guzman PositionFirst base
Player8. Jeff Mathis PositionCatcher
Player9. Delino DeShields PositionCenter field

Pitching

Pitching rotation Throws
Pitching rotationMike Minor ThrowsLeft-handed
Pitching rotationLance Lynn ThrowsRight-handed
Pitching rotationEdinson Volquez ThrowsRight-handed
Pitching rotationDrew Smyly ThrowsLeft-handed
Pitching rotationShelby Miller ThrowsRight-handed
Pitching rotationCloser Throws
Pitching rotationJose Leclerc ThrowsRight-handed
Pitching rotationSetup Throws
Pitching rotationShawn Kelley ThrowsRight-handed

5 | MARINERS

2018 |89-73, 3rd in West

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.

2019 Seattle Mariners

Projected batting order

Player Position
Player1. Dee Gordon PositionSecond base
Player2. Mitch Haniger PositionCenter field
Player3. Edwin Encarnacion PositionDesignated hitter
Player4. Jay Bruce PositionRight field
Player5. Domingo Santana PositionLeft field
Player6. Dan Vogelbach PositionFirst base
Player7. Ryon Healey PositionThird base
Player8. Omar Narvaez PositionCatcher
Player9. Tim Beckham PositionShortstop

Pitching

Pitching rotation Throws
Pitching rotationMarco Gonzales ThrowsRight-handed
Pitching rotationYosei Kikuchi ThrowsLeft-handed
Pitching rotationMike Leake ThrowsRight-handed
Pitching rotationWade LeBlanc ThrowsLeft-handed
Pitching rotationFelix Hernandez ThrowsRight-handed
Pitching rotationCloser Throws
Pitching rotationHunter Strickland ThrowsRight-handed
Pitching rotationSetup Throws
Pitching rotationShawn Armstrong ThrowsRight-handed
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