MLB 2017 Season Preview
American League West
FanPicks examines the American League West division for the upcoming Major League Baseball season. Get ready for fantasy baseball.
A rebound seems plausible. The team finished five games out of the Wild Card, but they didn’t have highly touted prospect Alex Bregman, Cuban import Yuli Gurriel, gold glover Josh Reddick, all-star catcher Brian McCann, or a settled bullpen when they began the 2016 season. The Rangers were a record-setting 36–11 in one-run games, an indicator more of luck than skill, so some regression is to be expected, and the Mariners have become one of the league’s oldest teams. Given Houston’s depth on the field and in the bullpen, a modestly better performance by the rotation could propel the Astros back to October baseball.
Los Angeles Angels
From 2002 through 2014, the Angels won at least 90 games seven times, won six division titles, reached the ALCS three times and won the franchise’s only World Series championship in 2002. This is a much different era. Though GM Billy Eppler defiantly says the Angels “intend to contend” in 2017, the road to fourth place is paved with good intentions.
The A’s play in an antiquated stadium. They don’t draw well. They trade their top players instead of paying them top dollar, making it tough for fans to be faithful. Of course, the sentiment would improve if the A’s got off to a quick start, re-energized their fan base and even took steps toward constructing a baseball-only facility in Oakland. Miracles do happen.
It seems unlikely that heavy hitters Robinson Cano, Nelson Cruz and Kyle Seager can improve much on the stellar production of last year. But GM Jerry Dipoto has been very aggressive in building up the roster depth around his star trio, which should allow the Mariners to be competitive in a very tough American League West. It will come down to how their new-look starting rotation performs.
A third-straight AL West title is within reach. The Rangers have two aces in the rotation in Cole Hamels and Yu Darvish, a top-flight bullpen and offensive firepower. That combination will help them stay in contention in the AL West, but the rest of the rotation needs to carry its weight. Shin-Soo Choo and Adrian Beltre must stay healthy, newcomer Mike Napoli needs to keep slugging, and DH must be productive to make a push for a three-peat.