A few weeks ago, Chad Stewart and Jim Turvey started reviewing USA Today’s 2017 MLB projected win totals and discussing over/unders for each team. Today, they tackle the American League West.
Astros (90 wins)
Chad Stewart: Yeah, I’m with you on the Astros. I, too, was really impressed with their offseason moves. Their offseason kind of mirrored that of the Cubs a year ago, as both teams simply supplemented their young core with a few reliable veterans to push the team over the top. Their offense is stacked, and it now has a bit more balance in terms of handedness. I could easily see both Altuve and Correa finishing in the top-5 in MVP voting this year, a la Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo last year. The core of Altuve, Correa, Springer, and Bregman is just too potent. As you noted, the pitching is certainly a weak spot, but I’d expect a bounceback season from Keuchel and assuming he stays healthy, I think Lance McCullers breaks out in a big way this year. Add those two to the steady Collin McHugh, and the rotation isn’t half bad. I also agree about their bullpen. Giles is too talented to have another forgettable season like last year, and his strikeout and walk numbers both remained about the same as they had been the previous two seasons. It was really just the home runs that hurt him, so I definitely foresee a return to form. Additionally, there’s Devenski, Luke Gregerson, Will Harris, and Tony Sipp, among others. It really is a deep group.
If it weren’t for that dreadful April, Houston probably would have been a playoff team last year. Now, they’re even better and the clear favorites in the AL West.
Rangers (89 wins)
Mariners (85 wins)
CS: Again, I agree wholeheartedly. It seemed like Dipoto made a move every day this offseason, and it was for good reason. Like you mentioned, Segura and Dyson add some much-needed speed to a team that relies heavily on the power hitting of Cano, Cruz, and Seager. I’m also intrigued by Mitch Haniger, and I’m very curious to see what he can do with regular playing time, assuming he receives it. Valencia and Dan Vogelbach should form a solid platoon at first, and while a tandem of Ruiz and Zunino does worry me a bit, I don’t think it will be a disaster by any means.Seattle’s starting staff still isn’t great, but it certainly looks better than it did at the start of the winter. I’m not really banking on much more from King Felix than what he provided last year, and the same goes for Iwakuma. But it seems to be only a matter of time before Paxton truly breaks out and puts together a complete, dominant season. Smyly appears to be a perfect fit for Safeco Field, so I wouldn’t be surprised if he bounced back, but, at the very least, he will be a respectable back-end starter. Lastly, I’m not exactly sure how Gallardo’s ERA jumped a full two runs last year as compared to 2015, but it did. Maybe he can be a decent number five starter. He certainly can’t be as bad as he was last year, right?
The Mariners don’t really have another dominant reliever outside of Diaz, but I think there’s enough depth there that their bullpen should be above average. Seattle came up just short of a Wild Card berth two of the last three years, but I think the moves they made this offseason have put them in a position to end the sport’s longest postseason drought this year. And they better hope we’re right, as their core isn’t getting any younger.
Angels (74 wins)
CS: Ah yes, finally a team we disagree on! I’m taking the over, and the truth is that Trout is so good that the Angels don’t really need a whole lot more than a bunch of average players. Second base and left field have plagued the team over the last two years and while it may not seem like much, Maybin and Espinosa are both upgrades over what they’ve had recently. They also added Ben Revere and Luis Valbuena, who will make them a much deeper team than in years past. Their defense, which was already one of the best in the game last year, will now be even better, and may even be the best in the AL. Kole Calhoun continues to be one of the game’s most undervalued players on both sides of the ball and is pretty much a lock for a 4.0 WAR season each year. There’s a lot more to this team than just Mike Trout.If they all remain healthy, Richards, Shoemaker, and Tyler Skaggs could form a very good trio at the top of the rotation, and Nolasco and Jesse Chavez can eat up some innings at the back-end. Outside of Cam Bedrosian, their bullpen is kind of a mess, however.
Still, this team is better on paper than the one that won 85 games and finished a game out of the postseason in 2015. Though their success will hinge a lot on health, this team is far from a disaster in my eyes. I don’t think they are necessarily a postseason team, but it is certainly within the realm of possibility. More likely though, they end up around .500, and the “trade Mike Trout” nonsense starts up again.
CS: Yeah, I don’t really know what to think about Oakland. In fact, ever since the firesale that followed their 2014 season, I haven’t really known what to think about this team. I think the additions of Joyce and Trevor Plouffe are exactly the type of deals the A’s need to make right now, and Rajai Davis will help, too. Yes, he strikes out a ton and doesn’t provide much value in the field or on the bases, but Khris Davis might be the best raw power hitter in the game. Seriously, there’s just something different about the way the ball flies off his bat. And I don’t exactly know what to think about Healy. I mean, he looked great last year, but his numbers in the majors were mostly better than they were in the minors, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see him hit with some major regression this year.
Canha and Semien will both be useful position players too, but there aren’t any players here who could impact the offense to a point where it’s not near the bottom of the league in runs scored.As you pointed out their pitching staff has some real potential. Assuming he’s healthy, I’m expecting Gray to bounceback this year. I doubt he’ll be in the Cy Young award conversation as he was just a couple of years ago, but he certainly won’t be as bad as he was last year. Kendall Graveman looks to be a solid middle-of-the-rotation arm, and Cotton and Manea could both be great. And if it were maybe 2011 or 2012, their bullpen might be fantastic, but it’s 2017, so I don’t think it will be all that notable.
I guess I’ll take the over here since I think they are an improved team, but I wouldn’t expect a whole lot more than 70 wins.
Previous post: 2017 Season Preview Series: Meet the (Same Ol’) Mets