The AL West may be very competitive this season.
The annual division winners are the favorites once again. They're going to miss the reigning AL Cy Young award winner Justin Verlander and with the declining 1B Jose Abreu and 2B Jose Altuve missing time due to injury, there's at least some path for the other teams. That path however requires a lot to go wrong for Houston and a lot to go right for the other teams. I safely pick Houston to repeat as division champs.
I'll be honest, it's a bit of a coin toss between them and the Seattle Mariners. If starting pitchers Jacob deGrom and Nathan Eovaldi spend significant time on the injured list and if 3B Josh Jung and SP Jon Gray can't take steps forward, they probably finish in third place. I do like their bullpen and upside enough that with a lineup upgrade at the trading deadline this could very well be a playoff contending team. A lot just has to go right for them to compete for the division as well.
As I said in the paragraph above, it's a coin toss between them and Texas. I just don't see 3B Eugenio Suarez being as good as he was last season, think that RF Teoscar Hernandez will struggle moving to a pitcher's park and that cf Julio Rodriguez is headed for a sophomore slump. I just don't like their lineup or rotation enough to put them higher. Their ace is Luis Castillo and Texas's is Jacob deGrom and that's where it's at for me.
It's Shohei Ohtani and a bunch of back of the rotation starters. Tyler Anderson is projected by Fangraphs for a 4.48 ERA; Patrick Sandoval for a 3.78 ERA; Reid Detmers for a 4.23 ERA; Jose Suarez for a 4.42 ERA. Add a shaky bullpen and an injury-prone lineup where CF Mike Trout hasn't played 134 or more games since 2019 and 3B Anthony Rendon hasn't been healthy since signing with them, and there's very little to like about this team this season.
One look at their depth chart should have you asking if they're the worst team in the Majors. The answer is "probably". I don't think there's a point in even talking about them.
FINAL AL POSTSEASON SEEDS
1. Houston Astros
2. New York Yankees
3. Minnesota Twins
4. Toronto Blue Jays
5. Tampa Bay Rays
6. Texas Rangers
NL East is next!