With final roster decisions in the books and the 2020 season underway, it’s time to make some predictions. We’re polling the MLBTR readership on each of the game’s six divisions — though plenty more teams will crack the postseason under the rather inclusive new playoff qualification system. We’ve already surveyed the AL East, AL Central, NL Central, and NL East landscapes, and now we’ll turn to the American League West.
The Astros entered this season off three straight division titles, though they’ve undergone some major changes since winning the AL pennant in 2019. A sign-stealing scandal cost them general manager Jeff Luhnow and skipper A.J. Hinch, whom they replaced with James Click and Dusty Baker, respectively. On the field, they said goodbye to co-ace Gerrit Cole and Wade Miley in free agency. Their rotation suffered yet another massive blow this week when they placed reigning AL Cy Young winner Justin Verlander on the injured list with a forearm strain. He’s one of many injured Astros pitchers, and to make matters worse, the club has been without slugger and 2019 AL Rookie of the Year Yordan Alvarez because of the coronavirus.
Despite all the issues they’re facing, the Astros at least still boast an above-average roster. They don’t look like a juggernaut in their current state, though, and that could give a division rival a chance to pounce.
The Athletics, winners of 97 games in each of the prior two seasons, boast an eminently talented roster that seems as if it’ll present the greatest challenge for Houston. The Rangers and Angels look more like wild-card possibilities than teams capable of upending the Astros, though a 60-game season could make it more likely for either to pull off an upset. Probably not the case for the Mariners, who are retooling and have gotten to a 1-4 start. While five games isn’t enough of a sample size to bury or crown anyone, the M’s have gotten crushed in three of their defeats and entered Wednesday with the majors’ worst run differential at minus-21.
Which team do you think is going to take the division title? (Poll link for app users.)