What is going on, ball boys and girls? As always, I hope you guys are doing super well. Going into spring training, I wanted to gather all the divisions to predict the division's outcomes. I also wanted to predict the most likely CY Young, MVP, and ROY from each division. For each team in the said division, I will give you a breakout candidate, rebound candidate, an impact NRI(non-roster invite), and one Rookie to watch.
Without further ado, let's talk about the A.L. West!
Oak. Athletics: 94-68 win the A.L. West
L.A. Angels: 90-72 win the A.L. Wildcard
Sea. Mariners: 88-74
Hou. Astros: 85-77
Tex. Rangers- 70-112
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MVP: Mike Trout- When you have the best player in all of baseball, you have to give the nod to him. I am a massive fan of the Trout/Rendon combo. Trout's final line should look a little something like this .295+/.340+/.520+ with 35+HR, 100+RBI, 20+SB, and let's even throw in a Gold Glove.
Other candidates: 3B Matt Chapman(A's), OF Joey Gallo(Rangers), OF Kyle Lewis(M's), 3B Alex Bregman(Astros)
Cy Young: Marco Gonzalez- The Mariners Ace is coming due for a CY Young race. A high upside offense, rotation is coming into shape and improved pen. The Mariners have all the faith in Marco, and you should too. For Marco, give me a -3.10ERA, -1.20WHIP, 14W, 180K, 60BB, and just dominance and excellence all year long.
Other candidates: Jose Quintana(Angels), Sean Manea(A's), Zack Grienke(Astros), Lucas Giolittos(Rangers)
ROY: Jarred Kelenic/Julio Rodriguez- Give me the Mariners OF pair to be duking it out all season for the Rookie of Year. The award is bound to go to one of the top 10 prospects in the MLB this season. No doubt in mind that a Mariner takes home the award for the 2nd year in a row.
Players to Watch Athletics:
The A's breakout will come from S.P. A.J. Puk. The 25yo showed a small sample size in his work in 2019 with a 3.18ERA/3.39FIP over 11.1IP. The A's need all the help in the rotation they can get, and Puk is primed to deliver.
The A's most prominent rebound candidates are SS Elvis Andrus, 1B Matt Olson, and 3B Matt Chapman. Each of these guys needs to deliver at least a slash line of .270+/.325+/.500+ to give the A's a chance to win the division. Each had their injuries/struggles this last season and needs to come back healthy and ready to win!
The A's NRI to watch is 2B Jed Lowrie. The former Athletic didn't show well in his stint with the Mets(7 total P.A.), and in his late 30's now he will show he can repeat what he did with the A's from 2017-18 with the .272/.356/.448 slash he had.
The A's Rookie to watch is OF Ka'ai Tom. Tom was selected in the Rule 5 draft, so he will be fighting to stay on the roster. With his ability to play all 3OF positions and solid bat at the MiLB level .270/.360/.444 over 1989PA. The record shows he can get on base, play great defense, and that's a great player for the A's.
Players to Watch: Angels
The Angels breakout star will be DH/SP Shohei Ohtani. It is finally the year. I am calling a breakout in year three. Ohtani is due to get his stardom finally. I predict a -3.25ERA, 150+K to go along with 25+HR, 85+RBI, and show what a true two-way player looks like.
The Angels rebound candidates are OF Dexter Fowler and SP Jose Quintana. Fowler will need to show he healthy to hold down a corner OF spot and stay on the field. Quintana will also need to show he can rebound and eat up 170+ innings as he has for the prior seven seasons before 2020.
The NRI to watch for the Angels is RHRP Junior Guerra. I think Guerra's signing gives the Angels an excellent option for a swingman or if Ohtani misses any time with injury. Guerra had a 3.04ERA over 23.2IP in 2020 and a career 3.77ERA/4.55SIERA.
The Rookie to watch is OF Brandon Marsh. We all know about Jo Adell, but Marsh showed incredibly well in 2019 at the A.A. level with a .300/.383/.428 slash line 412PA.
Players to Watch: Mariners
The Mariners breakout candidate is S.P. Yusei Kikuchi. Yes, he had an ugly 5.17ERA however he only gave up 3HR had a 3.30FIP. In his 47IP, he had 47K-20BB and an uptick in his fastball velo. As we look deeper into the stats of Kikuchi, and the excellent starter is there.
The Mariners rebound candidates are apparent, C Tom Murphy and OF Mitch Haniger. These players give the M's pop in the lineup, leadership in the clubhouse and are fun to watch. Both players need to get back on the field, stay healthy and play in 130+ games each; the offense will fall into place.
The NRI to watch is LHP Roenis Elias. Elias is back in Seattle after missing the 2019-20 seasons due to injuries. Elias carries a 3.97ERA/4.26FIP and should be looking to fill the need of a veteran southpaw in the bullpen who can be used for a spot start here and there.
The Rookie(s) to watch for the Mariners are C Cal Ralegh, RHP Logan Gilbert, OF Jarred Kelenic, OF Julio Rodriguez. These young men carry incredible upside, especially the young OF, who should crack the opening day roster in 2021.
Players to Watch: Astros
The breakout the Astros are waiting for will come from OF Kyle Tucker. The 24yo Tucker will need to step up to fill the holes left in the lineup by Springer and Reddick. Coming off a season where he hit a respectable .268/.325/.512 with 9HR, 42RBI, and 8SB show all of us a budding star.
The rebound candidate for the Astros RHRP Ryne Stanek. Stanek was tagged for a 7.20ERA/7.29FIP. The career numbers suggest this season as an outlier, 4.00ERA/4.37FIP. If he can maintain his mid 90's velo, he should be just fine from the Astros pen.
The NRI to watch for the Astros is RHRP Steve Cishek. Over his career 576IP, he owns a 2.78ERA/3.36SIERA. Cishek will make the team and be an excellent late-inning option for the Astros.
The Rookie to watch for the Astros are young pitchers- Forrest Whitley, Tyler Ivey, and Jario Solis. Each is a top-10 prospect in the organization, and each should get their chance to carve out a role this spring.
Players to Watch: Rangers
The Rangers who two attractive breakout candidates in RHP Dane Dunning and OF David Dahl. Both are 26 years old; both were essentially given up on by their previous club too early. However, give me Dunning here at the top of the rotation for the Rangers. If he can build off the small sample size from 2020(3.97ERA/3.99FIP over 34IP.) Dunning may end up being the more valuable piece of the Lance Lynn trade.
The Rangers have plenty of rebound candidates, but none more important to the Rangers than 3B Rougned Odor. After posting a -0.6WAR with a .167/.209/.413 slash. The clock is ticking for Odor at 27yo to re-establish his value. If he can get back to his career average of .728OPS, then I see a trade to a decent team in his future this season.
The Rangers have one NRI who will make the opening day roster in LHP Hyeon-Jong Yang. Yang is a former KBO MVP, who from 2013-19 posted a 3.35ERA over 1200IP. I have no doubt the Yang, along with Arihara, provides the rangers two exciting options.
The Rookie on the Rangers that I am watching is LHP Avery Weems. The 23yo pitched to a 2.09ERA in his 60.1IP in rookie ball in 2019. I am a big fan of Weems, who should soon factor into the rebuilding Rangers plans.
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