AL West
FILE - Los Angeles Angels' Shohei Ohtani (17) and Mike Trout run back to the dugout after scoring against the Detroit Tigers during the third inning of a baseball game in Anaheim, Calif., Sept. 5, 2022. This could be the last time for Shohei Ohtani and Mike Trout to play together with a chance to lead the Los Angeles Angels back to the playoffs. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu, File)

How Things are Shaking up in the AL West in 2023

With Opening Day quickly approaching, 15 games will kick off the 2023 MLB regular season Thursday. After an exciting World Baseball Classic and Spring Training, multiple storylines headline the league. With a new pitch clock, bigger bases and shift restrictions, the MLB has changed the way the game is played. One of the most talented divisions in baseball is the AL West, featuring the defending World Series Champion Houston Astros.

Rankings

The AL West is one of the more competitive divisions in baseball. The division has two of the Top 10 ranked teams in ESPN’s season preview and three in the Top 15. The Astros are currently the favorite to win the World Series, which would make Houston the first back-to-back champion since the Yankees won three in a row from 1998-2000.

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The Mariners are ranked 10th by ESPN and are coming off of a historic season. Seattle ended its long playoff drought of over 20 years after winning 90 games, last season. Therefore, expectations are high for Seattle with reigning Rookie of the Year Julio Rodriguez looking to make the jump to MVP status. With World Series hopes ahead, the Mariners are looking to give Houston a run for the division title.

The Los Angeles Angels enter 2023 after a disappointing season that saw them missing the playoffs once again. The Angels are ranked 15th by ESPN with an 18% chance to make the playoffs. Additionally, with Shohei Ohtani and Mike Trout both being top contenders for the AL MVP, Los Angeles is looking to take the next step in 2023 and sneak into the playoffs for the first time since 2014.

The Texas Rangers are ranked 16th and look to improve this season after making noise in the offseason. With the addition of star pitcher Jacob deGrom, Nathan Evoldi and Andrew Heany, the Rangers could have one of more solid staffs in the league.

The Oakland Athletics are ranked 29th by ESPN and are in rebuilding mode.

Predictions

When it comes to awards and division standings, the AL West has a chance to cause chaos.

Houston is projected to win the division but the next three seeds are within six projected wins of each other.

Seattle has made major improvements to its roster that make the offense more dynamic and the defense more balanced. This team is a dangerous threat to the Astros to win the division. The additions of Teoscar Hernandez and AJ Pollack add depth to an already deep lineup for Seattle.

The Angels have made the changes needed to give manager Phil Nevin flexibility. However, the problems in the bullpen remains. LA is coming off of a year where they went 73-89, finishing 33 games back of the Astros. But this year could be different, as Ohtani and Trout are both top contenders for the AL MVP. Ohtani is also predicted to be in the running for the CY Young, but only if he can pitch enough innings to merit consideration.

The Rangers come into this season unpredictable. Texas has a new rotation and managed to spend $185 million on deGrom. The former back-to-back CY Young winner has been hit with his fair share of injuries in his career, but when healthy, he’s phenomenal on the mound. The Rangers aim to get back to the playoffs for the first time since 2016.

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