With baseball season quickly approaching, it's time to look at the players who could be difference makers for their team. Here are the MVP's and prospects to watch for in the AL West this season.
After making it to their second World Series in the last three years, Hosuton’s squad looks prepared to make yet another run at a title. Even after being fined $5 million, losing their first and second round picks along with their general manager and manager both being canned due to the infamous sign stealing scandal. Houston has a great team heading into this season and still have multiple aces after losing Gerrit Cole to the Yankees. Justin Verlander is 37-years-old but is coming off his second Cy Young award and Zack Greinke, who came over from the Diamondbacks in the final minutes of last year's trade deadline still has some gas in the tank. Both starters should propel the Astros to another playoff appearance.
MVP: Alex Bregman (3B)
Bregman has quickly become a perennial MVP candidate in the American League. At 26-years-old, Bregman has already won a Silver Slugger (2019), gone to the All-Star game twice (MVP in 2019) and won a World Series title in 2017. Bregman is a solid five-tool player which is impressive for a young third baseman and still has plenty of time to grow. Luckily for Bregman, the Astros farm system is stacked with pitchers so his tenure in Houston is guaranteed for the foreseeable future.
Prospect: Korey Lee (Catcher)
Lee was taken by the Astros with the 32nd overall pick in last year's draft after hitting .337 in his last season at Cal. Lee was scouted as a third-round talent but Houston took a chance that has so far paid off. The only spot in the Astros roster that is missing a star player is catcher and first base, both of which Lee has played in his career. Lee is an athletic catcher with a good eye for the strike zone. His swing is clean and powerful which is exactly what the Astros are looking for with the high walls in left field at Minute Maid Park.
Los Angeles Angels
The Angels sadly are not a good team. They have arguably the best player in baseball history on their payroll but sadly have only put together 152 wins in the last two seasons and Mike Trout played in 274 of them. Even with a career WAR of 72.8, good enough for the 56th best in MLB history, the Angels have not finished with a record above .500 since 2015 when they finished with 85 wins. The rotation, bullpen and starting lineup lack notable names outside of Trout, the newly signed Anthony Rendon and Shohei Ohtani. Anything can happen in 60 games, but the odds are against the Angels in the West.
MVP: Mike Trout (OF)
The obvious answer. Trout is without a doubt the best active player and within a few years he may go down as the best of all time. Rumors had spread during last offseason that Trout was looking to sign elsewhere, but the Angels quickly shut down that rumor by giving him a 12-year deal that up until Patrick Mahomes signed his megadeal last week, was the largest contract in pro-sports history. Trout is the Angels MVP but makes a case for AL MVP every year as well.
Prospect: Jo Adell (OF)
Outside of third base and center field, the Angels are struggling. Unfortunately, the Angels two highest ranked prospects, Adell and Brandon Marsh are both outfielders. Adell is the NO. 6 prospect in baseball and is expected to make his MLB debut this season after ending the 2019 season in AAA at only 20-years-old. Adell is a true five-tool player and his raw abilities at the dish, in the field and on the bases will bring him to the show real soon.
The A’s have started to turn things around after finishing dead last in the division from 2015 to 2017. In the last two seasons, Oakland has won 194 games and finished just behind the Astros in the West. The Athletics have a decent squad that has developed nicely over the last few years. Oakland has outstanding defense, headlined by Platinum Glove winner Matt Chapman and the human cannon Ramon Lauerano along with plenty of power from Mark Canha (26 HR in 2019), Matt Olson (36 HR in 127 games in 2019) and Khris Davis (156 HR’s in the last four seasons. The Athletics also have a very deep farm system that features three players in the top 60 who are all expected to make their MLB debuts this year. Oakland may still be a ways out from beating out Houston for first place, but they will be Wild Card contenders for years to come.
MVP: Matt Olson (1B)
Olson is only 26-years-old going into his third full season in the majors. After a broken hamate bone kept him off the field at the start of last season, Olson finished with the 18th most home runs in the league even after missing 35 games. Oakland is set at the corner infield positions defensively and offensively knowing Olson and Chapman can combine for over 50 runs saved and 30 homers each. Look for Olson to mash baseballs for years to come.
Prospect: A.J. Puk (LHP)
Again, Oakland has three players ranked in MLB.com’s top 100 prospects, all three of them being in the top 60. Puk is an elite leftie who is part of a big wave of talented left handed prospects in the game. Puk is in the same conversation as MacKenzie Gore (SD), Jesus Luzardo (OAK) and Brendan McKay (TB) in terms of raw talent and potential. All four of those players are expected to make the jump to the big leagues this season with their respective teams. Puk is coming off Tommy John surgery but has already improved upon his velocity, which got him noticed by scouts when he was at Florida. Puk’s fastball can reach three digits but he can be wild at times while trying to push the gun rather than punching batters out. Puk and his 6’7” frame will be on the bump in Oakland full-time in no time.
The Rangers are an average team that usually finish third or fourth in the division. Even with the addition of Corey Kluber in the offseason, there is not much to look forward to for the lesser of the two Texas teams in the AL West. Other than Joey Gallo’s light-tower-power, Kluber pitching for a new team and Leody Taveras’ debut there won’t be much to see at Globe Life Park.
MVP: Joey Gallo (OF, 1B, 3B)
Gallo fans were jipped of a full season due to oblique injuries and a broken hamate bone limited him to 70 games. Gallo had tallied over 40 home runs in his previous two seasons and surely would have put up at least that many given 6,776 bombs were hit in the majors last year, good enough for a new MLB record. Gallo is again a bright spot on a team that will probably finish last in the division regardless of a 60 game or 162 game season.
Prospect: Josh Jung (3B)
Jung is listed as the NO. 1 prospect in the Ranger’s system and NO. 55 in all of baseball. Jung’s grades are fairly average for a top 100 prospect, but scouts rave about the parts of his game that dont show on their clipboards. After leading Texas Tech to a third place finish in the College World Series in 2019, Jung won Co-Player of the Year in the Big 12 before being taken with the 8th pick later in the year by the Rangers. Even at 22-years-old, Jung should be in the Majors soon.
The Mariners have had a tough time in the majors during their 43 seasons finishing with a losing record in 29 of them. There are only six teams in the MLB that have never won a championship and only one of those teams has never even made it to a World Series; the Seattle Mariners. Since 2001, a year in which the Mariners won 116 games, they have not won the AL West. The team is subpar and it is unknown if reinforcements are on the way even with a strong prospect pool.
MVP: Dan Vogelbach (1B/DH)
If it wasn't for the gigantic question mark next to Mitch Haniger’s name, he would be the team's MVP headed into the shortened season. Vogelbach is next in line because he will have the biggest offensive impact for the Mariners. His 30 home runs last year led the team but Vogelbach hit only .208 which was the second worst in the league. It is hard to tell if his contact and vision has improved, but something will need to change if he wants to be a statistical leader for the Mariners.
Prospect: Jarred Kelenic (OF)
Kelenic came over to Seattle from the Mets when the Mariners shipped Robinson Cano and Edwin Diaz to the Big Apple. Kelenic is currently ranked as the NO. 11 prospect in baseball and the highest ranked player in the Mariners farm system. Kelenic is an excellent hitter, runner, fielder and has a very strong arm that will allow him to excel in any of the three outfield positions. At only 20-years-old, Kelenic may make the jump to the majors this season since Seattle may not have much to lose for a long, long time.