2024 Division Outlook: AL West

One division down, five to go. The 2024 MLB Season is right around the corner, and it's time to preview and highlight the five squads that make up the American League West.

Texas Rangers Victory Parade
Texas Rangers Victory Parade / Sam Hodde/GettyImages
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Houston Astros

Jose Altuve, Jose Abreu
Championship Series - Texas Rangers v Houston Astros - Game Six / Carmen Mandato/GettyImages

Key Additions
- LHP Josh Hader
- C Victor Caratini

Key Loses
- C Martin Maldonado
- RHP Hector Neris
- RHP Ryne Stanek
- RHP Kendall Graveman
- OF Michael Brantley
- RHP Phil Maton

The Houston Astros are the powerhouse of the American League in recent history, having made the American League Championship Series in each of the last 7 (!!) seasons, winning the World Series twice in that time frame. Despite losing numerous players in trades or free agency, the Astros have sustained their success through smart free agent signings and consistently strong player development. Their biggest departure may be the retirement of Dusty Baker, as the Astros hired from within and promoted bench coach Joe Espada to be the new head man. Heading into the 2024 season, their lineup is once again led b off with Jose Altuve, Yordan Alvarez, Alex Bregman, and Kyle Tucker, one of the best lineup cores in the league. Jose Abreu, their premiere free agent signing from a year ago, will be looking to put the worst season of his career behind him. He finished 2023 with a -0.6 fWAR and 86 wRC+, both career low marks for the slugger. The Astros have great depth behind him anyways, with two breakout candidates in Chas McCormick and Yainer Diaz following Abreu in the lineup. Barring any injuries, I am expecting this lineup to do some great things once again, especially after finishing 2023 fifth in the major leagues in team OPS and in the top seven in expected stats, including xBA, xSLG, and xwOBA.

On the pitching side of things, it looks like the Astros pitching staff will head into 2024 a bit banged up. Justin Verlander, Luis Garcia, Lance McCullers Jr., and J.P. France are all expected to start the season on the IL, leaving Framber Valdez and Cristian Javier as the top guns on the Astros rotation. Given those injuries, the Astros will begin the season relying on Hunter Brown, Jose Urquidy, and Ronel Blanco to round up their rotation. Brown had a lackluster first full season in the big leagues, although his numbers credit him as someone who ended up being pretty unlucky. This years Astros' premiere free agent signing comes out of their bullpen, as the Astros brought in the best left handed reliever in baseball. Josh Hader signed a 5 year, $95 million deal with the Astros, joining Ryan Pressly in possibly the best closing tandem in the big leagues. Overall, the Houston Astros should find themselves fighting for the AL West crown once again and be a threat in the AL postseason bracket.

Team MVP: Yordan Alvarez

Team Cy Young: Framber Valdez

Team X-Factor: Jose Abreu

The Nationals will host the Houston Astros for a three game series from April 19-21.