Photo courtesy of Jose Carlos Fajardo – Bay Area News Group
1. Houston Astros: 91-71
The Houston Trash Can Bangers. This team didn’t make any splash moves in the offseason, besides the re-signing of Michael Brantley. Although there still is a guy by the name of Justin Verlander on the roster, as well as Zack Greinke, they are both nearing the twilight of their careers. I expect them to both have a solid season, but not up to par with past years.
Aside from those two, the pitching staff is a bunch of question marks. McCullers, Valdez and Urquidy are the three I expect to fill out the remaining spots, but I don’t think it’s fair to expect too much out of any of them, even though Valdez and Urquidy have shown promise. Forrest Whitley is also a name to watch. He’s been a top prospect of theirs for years but has yet to crack the Major League roster. He’s made it as high as AAA but has struggled with injuries and a PED suspension in the past, so nothing is certain with him.
They still have a solid lineup with guys like Bregman, Correa, Altuve and the aforementioned Brantley, which is why I have them winning the West. This is simply because the AL West is the weakest division in baseball, and there’s not much competition for them at all.
MVP: Alex Bregman
2. Oakland Athletics: 87-75
The A’s always find a way to scrap out a decent season, and I don’t expect anything different in 2021. This is partially because of the division they play in, but I also respect the talent of their GM David Forst and ownership to do what they can with limited resources.
The losses of Marcus Semien and Liam Hendriks will be tough spots to fill, but they did swap Khris Davis for Elvis Andrus over the offseason. The acquisitions of Sergio Romo, Trevor Rosenthal, and Mitch Moreland could also prove to be beneficial, but I question if it’s enough to overtake the Astros in the division.
With a healthy Matt Chapman back, Jesus Luzardo/Frankie Montas primed to solidify themselves as a good 1-2 punch in the rotation, there are a few things to be excited about with this team. I think this team does enough to clinch the second Wild Card spot, which can partially be attributed to the division they play in.
MVP: Matt Chapman
3. Seattle Mariners: 81-81
In my first “hot take” of the article, I have the M’s finishing third in the division. They are consistently an afterthought in the West but with one of the top farm systems in baseball and enough young talent at the top level, I don’t see a way this team regresses.
With guys like J.P. Crawford, Kyle Lewis, Justus Sheffield already up and guys like Jarred Kelenic, Logan Gilbert, Taylor Trammell, George Kirby and Cal Raleigh knocking on the door, there is a lot of promise in the M’s. Kyle Lewis will use 2021 as his year to emerge as a star (he’s one of my favorite players to watch). As I previously mentioned, the AL West just isn’t that great at baseball. Because of this, I can see them easily reaching the .500 mark with their final record and potentially even sneaking into Wild Card contention come September. It would not surprise me at all to see them eclipse this prediction. Do not sleep on the Mariners.
MVP: Kyle Lewis
4. Los Angeles Angels: 76-86
Fresh off a “hot” take, this could be seen as my first “cold” take of the article. I don’t understand the Halos. They have the capital and the market to put together a great roster. They have a new GM in Perry Minasian. They have the big names (a la Trout, Rendon, Ohtani, etc.). They have the manager in Joe Maddon (given he has only won the one World Series, I think he is somewhat overrated).
The issue with this team is top to bottom talent on the roster. It’s almost as though they think they can contend for a playoff spot, much less a World Series berth, without investing in pitching at all. They let Trevor Bauer sign with their cross-town rivals, given his added contract would’ve been a huge strain to the financials. They’re still paying Albert Pujols $25 million in 2021 (please don’t hate me, he’s obviously an all-time great, just not in 2021). They’re paying Justin Upton over $22 million this year. What in the hell is going on here?
They did acquire guys like Dexter Fowler, Jose Quintana, Jose Iglesias and Kurt Suzuki this offseason, but are any of those four going to bring a postseason berth to “the other” LA team? I don’t think so. Any free agent class headlined by Dexter Fowler is a disappointment. I honestly think I could run this team better than the guys in charge. Sorry Angels fans.
MVP: Mike Trout (Who’s surprised?)
5. Texas Rangers: 71-91
No surprises here. This is a team in obvious rebuild mode. This is a team I grew up watching, but I’m sorry, it’s just not happening in Arlington this year.
This organization needs to turn around quickly, as the farm system is non-existent, so is the Major League club. Please, for the fans, trade Gallo. Trade Odor. Trade Kiner-Falefa. For Pete’s sake (ha), please do something beneficial to the club! Trading Andrus was a start, but instead of getting solid prospects back, they got Khris Davis.
Once again, I truly believe I could run this team better than the guys in charge. They did add David Dahl, who is a guy to watch, but the offseason in Texas was pretty dang stagnant. This team is desperately treading water with irrelevant free agent signings and trades to get fans into their new stadium. This is a shame, as Globe Life is one of my favorite parks I have visited to date. My affinity to the home team may be getting the best of me on this one, but I’ll be generous with the 71 wins
MVP: David Dahl