2022 American League West Power Rankings
The American League West was one of the busiest divisions this offseason, both before and after the lockout. Every team has made big moves. Some have decided to go all-in on competing for a playoff spot, others have decided to look towards the future. But for five seasons now, the Houston Astros have reigned supreme over the AL West, winning four division titles since 2017. Is this the year that they are knocked off their throne?
Last Place- Oakland Athletics
The Oakland Athletics have gone into full rebuild mode. After a third place finish in the 2021 season, the As have spent their offseason shipping off seemingly any player of value. In fairness, Oakland has done their rebuild about as good as any fan could hope for. The haul for Matt Olson from the Atlanta Braves? Four prospects including the promising center fielder, Christian Pache. In exchange for Gold Glover Matt Chapman, the Blue Jays gave another four prospects to the As, including their first pick in the 2021 amateur draft. So where do all these moves leave Oakland for the 2022 season? Understandably, not in a great position. The offense is anchored by an aging Elvis Andrus, and the hope Christian Pache finds his swing in Oakland. The rotation is anyone’s guess, seeing as how the As are still shopping their two best pitchers, Sean Manaea and Frankie Montas. A bullpen that was once elite, has now been reduced to mediocrity. It wouldn’t be surprising to see the A’s back in contention in 2-3 years. For this season, however, they aren’t going to be scaring anybody.
Fourth Place- Texas Rangers
The Texas Rangers made two huge moves this offseason when they spent $500 million on the middle infield tandem of Corey Seager and Marcus Semien. These acquisitions, combined with
Adolis Garcia, who made the All-Star Game as a rookie in 2021, and a solid first baseman in Nate Lowe, compose a formidable lineup. But the trouble for Texas lies in their pitching. The starting rotation, even with the signing of former Colorado Rockie, Jon Gray, is projected to be one of the worst in the league by FanGraphs. When looking at the depth chart, it isn’t hard to see why. The staff behind Gray is Martin Perez, Dane Dunning, and Taylor Hearn. Not exactly a menacing rotation. FanGraphs also projects that their bullpen will be the second worst in the league behind the Rockies. While the Rangers do have talented prospects waiting in the wings, the Rangers aren’t in a position to compete this year. After all, Seager and Semien can only do so much when the team is down 5-0 going into the bottom of the first inning.
Third Place- Seattle Mariners
The Seattle Mariners were hands down the most fun team to watch in MLB last season. When they narrowly missed a Wild Card spot, the hearts of baseball fans everywhere broke. There is every chance that the Mariners can recapture that same magic and put together another improbable run. But it’s hard to imagine that a team, who posted a -55 run differential last season, can do it again. They did make improvements in the offseason. 2021 AL Cy Young winner Robbie Ray will definitely improve their rotation. Acquiring Reds slugger Jesse Winker, along with getting a full season of uber-prospect Jarred Kelenic will bolster the lineup. However, the problem for the Mariners is the depth of their roster. In each area, there is a major gap in talent between the stars and the supporting cast that will cost the Mariners games. Beyond Robbie Ray, no one on their staff is projected to have an ERA below 4.00 by FanGraphs. Offensively, Jesse Winker is the only player projected to come close to a .400 OBP. The bullpen is a mix of people who can shut an offense down, and relievers who will make fans bite their nails every time they take the mound. It is not beyond the Mariners to defy expectations again this season. However, unless more quality players are added to bolster this team, there will be no celebrations in Seattle this year.
Second Place- Los Angeles Angels
The Los Angeles Angels have some of the best players in the game. They have the ability to sign any quality free agent of their choosing. So how is it possible that they have finished in fourth place in the division for four straight years? Put simply, the pitching has been terrible, both in the starting rotation and in the bullpen. This offseason, however, the Angels made a conscious effort to secure quality arms. For the bullpen, they signed one of the best left-handed relievers in Aaron Loup, along with Ryan Tepera who posted a 2.79 ERA in 2021. Those two join a bullpen which already has one of the best closers in baseball, Rasiel Iglesias, and a budding star in Mike Mayers. The rotation still needs improvement. While they did sign the flame throwing Noah Syndergaard, Shoei Ohtani needs help. Patrick Sandoval, Jose Suarez, and Michael Lorenzen are not pitchers who will put a team in a playoff position. The Angels continue to boast a star-studded lineup. Mike Trout and Ohtani are arguably the two best players in the sport, Anthony Rendon is due for a bounce back year, and Jared Walsh broke out as a true slugger last season. The Angels simply have not done enough this offseason to put them in true competition with Houston. A Wild Card appearance is in the cards, but an AL West pennant is not.
First Place- Houston Astros
The Houston Astros have been quiet this offseason. In fact, they failed to re-sign star shortstop Carlos Correa, who just agreed to a deal with the Minnesota Twins. However, there is no one in the AL West who can beat them. Even without Correa, the offense is deadly. Kyle Tucker is a sleeper for the AL MVP race, Alex Bregman is due for positive regression after an abysmal 2021 season, and Yordan Alvarez is one of the best all around hitters in the sport. The starting rotation, which was one of the best in the majors last year, is only going to get better now that ace Justin Verlander is back in the fold. The bullpen still could use a little work, but the addition of Hector Neris from the Phillies should help out star closer Ryan Pressly. The Astros have the most complete roster in this division. Their offense is what every general manager hopes to build at some point in their career. The kings of the AL West aren’t vacating the throne anytime soon.