American League West Preview Capsules
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Capsules of American League West teams, listed in order of finish last year:
2022: 106-56, first place, won World Series.
Manager: Dusty Baker (fourth season).
Opening Day: March 30 vs. Chicago White Sox.
He’s Here: GM Dana Brown, 1B José Abreu, LHP Matt Gage.
He’s Outta Here: GM James Click, RHP Justin Verlander, 1B Yuli Gurriel, INF/OF Aledmys Diaz.
Top Hitters: DH Yordan Alvarez (.306, 37 HRs, 97 RBIs, 1.019 OPS), 2B Jose Altuve (.300, 28, 57, 39 doubles), RF Kyle Tucker (.257, 30, 107, 25 SBs), 1B José Abreu (.304, 15, 75, 40 doubles, 183 hits for White Sox).
Projected Rotation: LH Framber Valdez (17-6, 2.82 ERA, 194 Ks, 3 CGs), RH Cristian Javier (11-9, 2.54, 194 Ks), RH José Urquidy (13-8, 3.94), RH Luis Garcia (15-8, 3.72), RH Hunter Brown (2-0, 0.89 in 7 games, 2 starts.)
Key Relievers: RH Ryan Pressly (3-3, 2.98 ERA, 33 saves), RH Rafael Montero (5-2, 2.37, 14 saves), RH Ryne Stanek (2-1, 1.15 in 59 games), RH Bryan Abreu (4-0, 1.94 in 55 games).
Outlook: After winning the second World Series title in franchise history, the Astros are favorites to repeat in 2023 despite losing Verlander, the AL Cy Young Award winner, in free agency. Houston’s rotation should still be in good shape with Valdez and Javier leading the young group and Hunter Brown expected to take the next step after seeing limited work as a rookie last season. The lineup remains largely intact, with the one big change at first base where the Astros added Abreu, the 2020 AL MVP, to replace Gurriel. But the team sustained a big blow in spring training when Altuve broke his right thumb when he was hit by a pitch playing for Venezuela in the World Baseball Classic. The 2017 AL MVP needs surgery and new GM Dana Brown said Altuve will be out for “a while,” leaving Mauricio Dubón and David Hensley to fill in.
2022: 90-72, second place, lost to Houston in Division Series.
Manager: Scott Servais (seventh season).
Opening Day: March 30 vs. Cleveland.
He’s Here: 2B Kolten Wong, OF AJ Pollock, OF Teoscar Hernández, RHP Trevor Gott, DH Tommy La Stella, C/OF Cooper Hummel.
He’s Outta Here: OF Mitch Haniger, OF Jesse Winker, 2B Adam Frazier, 1B/DH Carlos Santana, INF Abraham Toro, C Luis Torrens, OF Kyle Lewis, RHP Erik Swanson, LHP Matthew Boyd.
Top Hitters: CF Julio Rodríguez (.284, 28 HRs, 75 RBIs, .853 OPS, AL Rookie of the Year), 1B Ty France (.274, 20, 73), RF Teoscar Hernández (.267, 25, 77, .807 OPS with Toronto), C Cal Raleigh (.211, 27, 63, .774 OPS), 3B Eugenio Suárez (.236, 31, 87).
Projected Rotation: RH Luis Castillo (4-2, 3.17 ERA, 77 Ks in 11 starts with Seattle after trade from Cincinnati; 8-6, 2.99 in 25 starts overall), LH Robbie Ray (12-12, 3.71, 212 Ks), RH Logan Gilbert (13-6, 3.20, 174 Ks), RH George Kirby (8-5, 3.39, 133 Ks, 22 BBs), LH Marco Gonzales (10-15, 4.13).
Key Relievers: RH Paul Sewald (5-4, 2.67 ERA, 20 saves in 65 games), RH Andres Munoz (2-5, 2.49, 96 Ks in 65 IP), RH Matt Brash (4-4, 4.44 in 39 games), RH Diego Castillo (7-3, 3.64, 59 games).
Outlook: The drought is over! Now, what’s next for the Mariners? After ending the longest playoff drought in the four major pro sports last season and reaching the ALDS, the Mariners believe they can close the gap on Houston in the AL West. Their pitching, if healthy, will be in consideration for the best rotation in baseball — especially with Castillo in the fold for a full season. But questions remain offensively as to whether Seattle did enough. Hernández should be a modest upgrade over Haniger in right field and Wong should be the same at second base. The tipping point could be if Pollock and Jarred Kelenic can combine for above-average production in left field. If that happens, Seattle could end up with an offense good enough to make the AL West a closer race this time around.
LOS ANGELES ANGELS
2022: 73-89, third place.
Manager: Phil Nevin (first full season).
Opening Day: March 30 at Oakland.
He’s Here: OF Hunter Renfroe, LHP Tyler Anderson, RHP Carlos Estevez, INF Brandon Drury, INF Gio Urshela, OF Brett Phillips.
He’s Outta Here: C Kurt Suzuki, RHP Michael Lorenzen, RHP Mike Mayers, RHP Oliver Ortega.
Top Hitters: OF Mike Trout (.283, 40 HRs, 80 RBIs), DH Shohei Ohtani (.273, 34, 95), OF Taylor Ward (.281, 23, 65).
Projected Rotation: RH Shohei Ohtani (15-9, 2.33 ERA), LH Patrick Sandoval (6-9, 2.91), LH Reid Detmers (7-6, 3.77), LH Jose Suarez (8-8, 3.96), LH Tyler Anderson (15-5, 2.57 with Dodgers), LH Tucker Davidson (2-7, 6.75).
Key Relievers: RH Carlos Estevez (4-4, 3.47 ERA, 2 saves with Colorado), RH Ryan Tepera (5-4, 3.61, 6 saves), LH Aaron Loup (0-5, 3.84, 1 save).
Outlook: All eyes will be on Ohtani in the final season of the two-way superstar’s contract because the Angels seem to have no hope of keeping him unless they embark on a winning season and serious playoff contention. Trout is also back healthy, and the Halos bolstered the depth beneath their stars as they attempt to end the majors’ longest streaks of non-playoff seasons (8) and losing seasons (7). Renfroe, Urshela and Drury are more talented than the players they replaced, and Anderson is hoping to replicate his career year in the Dodgers’ rotation. Mickey Moniak and Jo Adell will try to crack the outfield group, and expensive third baseman Anthony Rendon is back for a fourth attempt to stay healthy. The bullpen looks suspect with no upgrades to last year’s shaky unit beyond Estevez, the presumptive closer.
2022: 68-94, fourth place.
Manager: Bruce Bochy (first season).
Opening Day: March 30 vs. Philadelphia.
Here’s Here: RHP Jacob deGrom, RHP Nathan Eovaldi, LHP Andrew Heaney, RHP Jake Odorizzi, LHP Will Smith, LF Robbie Grossman.
He’s Outta Here: Manager Chris Woodward (fired Aug. 15), LHP Kolby Allard, RF Kole Calhoun, OF Mark Mathias, LHP Matt Moore, RHP Garrett Richards, RHP Dennis Santana, LF Nick Solak, OF Eli White, INF Charlie Culberson.
Top Hitters: SS Corey Seager (.245, 33 HRs, 83 RBIs), RF Adolis Garcia (.250, 27, 101, 34 doubles, 25 SBs), 1B Nathaniel Lowe (.302, 27, 76), 2B Marcus Semien (.248, 26, 83, 101 runs, 25 SBs), C Jonah Heim (.227, 16, 48).
Projected Rotation: RH Jacob deGrom (5-4, 3.08 ERA, 102 Ks in 64 1/3 innings over 11 starts for Mets), LH Martín Pérez (12-8, 2.89 in 32 starts), RH Jon Gray (7-7, 3.96), RH Nathan Eovaldi (6-3, 3.87 in 20 starts for Boston), LH Andrew Heaney (4-4, 3.10 in 16 games, 14 starts for Dodgers).
Key Relievers: RH José Leclerc (0-3, 2.83 ERA, 7 saves), RH Joe Barlow (3-1, 3.86, 13 saves), LH Brock Burke (7-5, 1.97, 90 Ks in 82 1/3 innings), LH Taylor Hearn (6-8, 5.13 in 31 games, 13 starts), RH Jonathan Hernandez (2-3, 2.97), RH Jake Odorizzi (6-6, 4.40 in 22 starts for Houston and Atlanta), LH Will Smith (0-3, 3.97 in 65 games for Atlanta and Houston).
Outlook: A year after their half-billion dollar investment for All-Star middle infielders Seager and Semien, the Rangers this offseason brought three-time World Series champion manager Bochy out of his three-year retirement and revamped their starting rotation. Two-time NL Cy Young Award winner deGrom, former All-Star Eovaldi and Heaney signed in free agency after none pitched a full season last year because of injuries. Neither did Gray, who after being signed to be the No. 1 Texas starter last season had three IL stints. If most of them can stay healthy and Pérez can follow up his All-Star season with another solid effort, Texas could have its best rotation ever. Combine that with an offense that can score and the Rangers would certainly be in position to end their string of six consecutive losing seasons — and very possibly contend for a playoff spot.
2022: 60-102, fifth place.
Manager: Mark Kotsay (second season).
Opening Day: March 30 vs. Los Angeles Angels.
He’s Here: RHP Shintaro Fujinami, RHP Drew Rucinski, LHP Kyle Muller, RHP Trevor May, 1B Jesús Aguilar, INF/OF Aledmys Díaz, INF Jace Peterson, OF Esteury Ruiz, OF Brent Rooker, 1B Ryan Noda, RHP Chad Smith, C Manny Piña, C Yohel Pozo.
He’s Outta Here: C Sean Murphy, LHP Cole Irvin, OF Chad Pinder, C Stephen Vogt, LHP Zach Logue, LHP A.J. Puk.
Top Hitters: OF Seth Brown (.230, 25 HRs, 73 RBIs), OF Ramón Laureano (.211, 13, 34), 1B Jesús Aguilar (.235, 16, 51 with Marlins and Orioles).
Projected Rotation: RH Shintaro Fujinami (7-6, 2.77 ERA in Japan), RH Drew Rucinski (10-12, 2.97 in Korea), RH James Kaprielian (5-9, 4.23), LH Kyle Muller (1-1, 8.03 in 3 starts for Braves; 6-8, 3.41 in Triple-A), RH Adam Oller (2-8, 6.30), RH Paul Blackburn (7-6, 4.28, will begin season on injured list).
Key Relievers: RH Dany Jimenez (3-4, 3.41 ERA, 11/14 saves), RH Trevor May (2-0, 5.04, 1 save with Mets), RH Domingo Acevedo (4-4, 3.33, 4 saves).
Outlook: A run of four straight winning seasons came to a crashing halt in 2022 when the A’s racked up their most losses since 1979. Oakland traded away more key players like Murphy and Irvin as the team once again is cutting payroll. While the A’s have added some potential prospects for down the road, they don’t seem close to contender status in 2023. The biggest question will be resolving their stadium issue, whether that’s getting a deal done to stay in Oakland or one to move to Las Vegas.
AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports