It’s just beyond the All-Star Break, and time to grade MLB squads based on their preseason expectations. This time, it’s the AL West.
The Houston Astros are once again at the top of the AL West Division, but they aren’t running away. This was expected to be a competitive division in spring training and things could play out the way the rest of the season.
Currently, only two of the teams are projected under the expected win total, and both teams could hit that mark by the end of the year. With plenty of divisional games left to be played, this race could be fun to watch for the remainder of 2021.
- 2021 Expected Wins: 87.5
- Record (as of July 12): 54-36
The Houston Astros look like a World Series contender again, and they are silencing a lot of doubters along the way. Most experts predicted Houston to win the AL West but they have still been much better than expected.
There is still plenty of scrutiny surrounding the Houston Astros franchise, and life on the road hasn’t been fun for players on this team. It hasn’t affected the play on the field, but the Astros still have some work to do if they want to win the AL West.
Houston has built up a division lead by being the best offensive team, and simply wearing down opposing pitchers each night. The Astros lead MLB with 496 runs and also with a .269 team batting average.
Michael Brantley leads the Astros with a .326 batting average, but this team is full of players that can get on base. Jose Altuve has missed some time this season due to injury, but he still leads the Astros with 20 home runs.
Not only has the offense been great for Houston, but the pitching staff has performed as well. The Astros have a team ERA of just 3.60 this season, good enough for the ninth-best mark in baseball.
Zack Greinke leads the team with 8 wins and a 3.59 ERA, but the rotation has some young talent mixed in as well. The Houston bullpen has been great at shutting the door, and that could play a key role as the season moves along.
Houston is now projected to win 97.2 wins, which would easily shatter the expected win total. The Astros won’t have any trouble getting to at least 88 wins this year, making the over the right play.
- 2021 Expected Wins: 86.5
- Record (as of July 12): 51-40
The Oakland Athletics continue to fly under the radar as a franchise, but they are always in the playoff hunt. Oakland led this division for a portion of the season and were 3.5 games out of first place at the break.
Oakland appeared to hit a bit of a wall at one point in June, but they have still managed to stay in the race. This roster is full of players that have enjoyed some success with this franchise, and that should continue for the remainder of the season.
Matt Olson leads the Athletics with a .282 batting average to go along with 23 home runs and 59 RBIs. Matt Chapman and Elvis Andrus are two players that really need to get going for the Athletics.
Oakland was hitting .232 at the break, and that number will need to improve as the year moves along. There is some power in the middle of that lineup, and the Athletics are always capable of scoring runs in a hurry.
The starting rotation for the Athletics has delivered 46 quality starts this season, which is the second-best mark in baseball. This has saved the bullpen this season, and that could play a role down the stretch.
With the Athletics getting off to a great start, they are now projected to win over 90 games. This is the norm for this team, and it’s tough to see them winning anything less than that this season.
Oakland is going to go over the expected win total of 86.5 games, and they are going to keep the pressure on the Houston Astros for the remainder of the year.
Los Angeles Angels
- 2021 Expected Wins: 83.5
- Record (as of July 12): 44-44
The Los Angeles Angels have been a slight disappointment but they were right at the .500 mark at the All-Star Break. It’s hard to really fault the Angels as they have played a majority of this season without Mike Trout.
Los Angeles does have the benefit of having Shohei Ohtani back and fully healthy, and he has carried this team for stretches this season. Getting Trout back soon could allow the Angels to make a run at winning this division.
The pitching staff has really let the Angels down this season as they have a team ERA of 4.90. That’s not going to be good enough in the second half of the season, and they need someone besides Ohtani to step up.
Ohtani started the All-Star Game as a pitcher for the American League, and he continues to look better and better on the mound. Alex Cobb has chipped in with six wins this season, but Joe Maddon needs more from his rotation.
The Angels have a .440 slugging percentage as a team this season, and that’s mostly without Mike Trout. Los Angeles can stay in ballgames with their lineup, and this is how they could make a run in the second half.
Ohtani leads the team with 33 home runs and 70 RBIs, and he continues to be the DH when he is not on the mound. David Fletcher is having a great season as well, hitting a team-high .309.
Los Angeles is now projected to win 81 games this season, and they have been a true definition of an average team this season. They are also a team set to get back one of the best players in baseball in Mike Trout.
Things haven’t gone that well for Los Angeles yet, but they are going to find a way to win at least 84 games and go over the expected win total.
- 2021 Expected Wins: 72.5
- Record (as of July 12): 48-42
The Seattle Mariners were seven games out of first place in the AL West at the break, and they remain within striking distance at the break. Seattle was not expected to do much this season, but they have been one of the biggest surprises in baseball.
Seattle has an interesting mix of veterans and young talent, and the Mariners started to come on strong in July. This will still be an uphill battle the rest of the way, but this team could be a problem in the AL West in the future.
The Mariners actually got a disappointing performance from top prospect Jared Kelenic, and the offense could have used a jolt. Seattle is last in baseball with a .216 team batting average, and are in the bottom-third in most offensive categories.
Mitch Haniger has belted 20 home runs and driven in 52 RBIs this season for Seattle and he has carried this offense at times. J.P. Crawford is hitting a solid .279, but Seattle is going to need more offense in the second half of the season.
The pitching numbers aren’t much better, but there are some solid starting pitchers in the rotation. Yusei Kikuchi leads the team with a 3.48 ERA and he is going to continue to get better.
The numbers don’t tell the whole story with Seattle as this team just finds ways to win games. This team could use better play from some of the role players if they really want to be a contender.
The Mariners are now projected to win 86.4 games, which seems a little bit high at the moment. Seattle is going to fly past the expected win total of just 72.5 games, but they will finish the 2021 season right around the .500 mark.
- 2021 Expected Wins: 66.5
- Record (as of July 12): 35-54
The Rangers seemed like a clear pick for the worst team in the AL West, and that is exactly where they are going to end up. With that being said, this team can still give some opponents trouble, especially when they are playing games in Arlington.
Texas was 19.5 games out of first place in the AL West, and they will be stuck playing the role of spoiler in the second half of the season. The Rangers could also be major sellers at the Trade Deadline, which would make things even more difficult over the next few months.
Both the offense and the pitching staff are in the bottom-third in most categories, and that has made it difficult to pick up wins. With that being said, there is still some talent on this team, especially on the offensive side.
All-Star Joey Gallo leads the team with 24 home runs, and he has really started to turn things around after a slow star. Adolis Garcia leads the team with a .270 batting average to go along with 62 runs batted in.
Texas is a much better offensive team at home as they play in a great hitter’s park. The problem is that the pitching staff has also struggled in Arlington, putting too much pressure on the lineup.
The Rangers have a team ERA of 4.45, and the bullpen has been the biggest problem. There are some solid starters in the rotation, but those will also be potential trade targets for teams around the league.
Kyle Gibson has posted a 2.29 ERA this season, and he looks like one of the top pitchers in baseball at times. There are some arms to build around, but this pitching staff struggles against great offensive teams.
Currently, the Rangers are projected to win 63.7 games, which would be lower than the expected regular-season win total. It’s going to be close, but Texas is going to win 66 games or less this season.