Division Outlook: AL West

Houston Astros World Series Parade
Houston Astros World Series Parade / Carmen Mandato/GettyImages

The American League West looks like it can be the most competitive it has been in recent years. With the reigning World Series champs on top and three other squads only improving, September could end up being both a fun and stressful time for the AL West teams. With that being said, let's take a look at what each of the AL West teams 2023 season will look like, including predictions for each team's 2023 MVP, Cy Young, and X-Factor.

Houston Astros

Whether you like them or not, the 2022 World Series Champs will continue their trend of being one of the best teams in Major League Baseball. Their depth is simply off the charts, and they churn out talent like nobody's business. They lost George Springer and Carlos Correa to free agency and replaced them internally with Kyle Tucker and Jeremy Pena, two underrated players producing at an elite level for them. On top of that, they have one of the best front offices in the league, always making smart moves that make this juggernaut even stronger. Just this offseason they let longtime first baseman Yuli Gurriel walk in free agency and then signed Jose Abreu to a three year deal. Even with losing the 2022 AL Cy Young Justin Verlander this offseason, they have two budding starters in Cristian Javier and Hunter Brown. Some people have even gone on to say Hunter Brown is a mini Justin Verlander, with similar mechanics and an elite fastball.

From top to bottom, the Houston Astros are stacked. There isn't really any other way to put it. They have a top five lineup in the majors, featuring Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman, Yordan Alvarez, and Kyle Tucker. Framber Valdez, who just set the MLB record for most quality starts in a row, will lead a rotation that has Cristian Javier and Lance McCullers Jr. behind him to create a scary top three. Their bullpen isn't the best in the league, but certainly strong enough to anchor a championship team. Expect them to be at the top of the AL West yet again, while being strong competitors to head back to the Fall Classic and potentially repeat.

Team MVP: Yordan Alvarez

Team Cy Young: Framber Valdez

Team X-Factor: Lance McCullers Jr.

The Nationals play a three game set in Houston from June 13-15.

Seattle Mariners

Julio Rodriguez
Division Series - Houston Astros v Seattle Mariners - Game Three / Steph Chambers/GettyImages

Seattle finally ended their infamous 20-year playoff drought last season, capturing the 5th seed in the AL with a 90-72 record. Heading into 2023, this team is young and fun, with an extremely bright future ahead of them. Headlined by 2022 American League Rookie of the Year Julio Rodriguez, Seattle should make some more noise this year and find themselves playing October baseball once again. They had an underrated offseason, but general manager Jerry Dipoto was able to address most of the holes left on their roster. They acquired Teoscar Hernandez and Kolten Wong from the Blue Jays and Brewers, respectively, completing their outfield and giving them a much needed second baseman. Their rotation remains criminally underrated in my opinion, as it has top ten upside. Veterans Luis Castillo and Robbie Ray lead the way, with young future aces Logan Gilbert and George Kirby following. Like the rotation, the Mariners 'pen is undervalued. Andres Munoz has the skillset to become the next best closer, and there is a strong supporting cast around him. While they might not be able to contend for the AL West crown, they should still be able to find themselves in the postseason for the second straight season.

Team MVP: Julio Rodriguez

Team Cy Young: Luis Castillo

Team X-Factor: Jarred Kelenic

The Nationals play a three game set in Seattle from June 26-28.

Los Angeles Angels

Shohei Ohtani
Los Angeles Angels v Oakland Athletics / Thearon W. Henderson/GettyImages

Angels fans aren't the only people who want to see their team return to the playoffs. MLB fans as a whole want to be able to watch the talents of Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani on baseball's biggest stage. The question heading into the season will be did they do enough this offseason to get themselves back into the postseason. Barring any injuries, their lineup is stacked from top to bottom. Headlined by the aforementioned Trout and Ohtani, the Angels lineup also includes 2022 breakouts Taylor Ward and Brandon Drury, alongside veteran contributors like Anthony Rendon and Hunter Renfroe. If all these guys can stay healthy, it's safe to say both LA teams will be putting out some offensive fireworks this year. The question marks that arise when analyzing this roster comes out of the pitching side. Ohtani is their ace, which isn't an issue considering he's a CY Young caliber pitcher himself. After him, every other projected starter for this team is a lefty, the only team in the league that can say their rotation includes four southpaws. Freshly signed Tyler Anderson and Patrick Sandoval are two quality arms behind Ohtani, but after that it seems to fall off. Jose Suarez and Reid Detmers are two guys that have shown the Angels organization what they have, but have also been too inconsistent to be readily relied on. Similar to the backend of the rotation, the Angels' bullpen can be wildly inconsistent. After trading away Raisel Iglesias to Atlanta at the deadline last year, the Angels find themselves without a formidable closer. The Angels have the talent to make the playoffs, but their pitching needs to prove themselves before I can confidently buy any stocks.

Team MVP: Mike Trout/Shohei Ohtani (impossible to pick one)

Team Cy Young: Shohei Ohtani

Team X-Factor: Entire Pitching Staff

The Nationals play in Anaheim for a three game set from April 10-13.

Oakland Athletics

Seth Brown
New York Mets v Oakland Athletics / Thearon W. Henderson/GettyImages

The Oakland Athletics are the American League's Washington Nationals. Similar to the Nats, the A's current roster is constructed of young players that hope to be part of the future core, and veterans that are stopgaps for now. There isn't much to talk about when it comes to this team. One name to keep an eye on is Esteury Ruiz, the main piece coming into to Oakland in the three-team Sean Murphy to Atlanta deal. Many evaluators may not be too high on Ruiz, but the A's are. He doesn't have much major league experience under his belt, so it will be interesting to watch how he develops this year. With elite speed and the increased base size, 40+ stolen bases may be in the mix for Ruiz. That speed is also utilized to make remarkable plays in the outfield.

Other names to watch are starter Ken Waldichuk and catcher Shea Langeliers, two other prospects acquired through trade. Oakland will be competing with teams like Washington for the worst record in baseball, so there isn't much to talk about with this franchise. Hopefully they can relocate to Las Vegas and get out of the coliseum in the coming years.

Team MVP: Seth Brown

Team Cy Young: Paul Blackburn

Team X-Factor: Esteury Ruiz

The Nationals will host Oakland for a three game set from August 11-13.

Texas Rangers

Jacob deGrom
Spring Training / Ben Ludeman/Texas Rangers/GettyImages

The Texas Rangers and GM Chris Young have spent almost a billion dollars in free agency the past two winters, propelling this franchise to a potential postseason birth this year. Corey Seager and Marcus Semien are responsible for around half a billion in guaranteed money, and are due for huge sophomore seasons in Texas. Nathaniel Lowe had a breakout campaign in 2022 and looks like he can be one of the better offensive first basemen. Adolis Garcia and Jonah Heim are also under the radar hitters in the middle of that Texas lineup that could have their own breakout campaigns this year. They do still have holes in both corner spots in the outfield, along with no true designated hitter. Former top prospect Josh Jung has had his success and journey to the show slowed by COVID and injuries, but will still get the nod at the hot corner this season. Overall, this offense is very top heavy, with little to no depth. Last offseason the Rangers focused on offense. This year, they focused on pitching. They signed Jacob deGrom, Nathan Eovaldi, and Andrew Heaney over the winter. deGrom, the best pitcher in baseball when healthy, is notoriously known for his ridicolous injury history. With spring training only just starting, deGrom has reportedly already felt some discomfort.

If Texas wants to return to the playoffs this year, there's no doubt that they need deGrom healthy, especially with the other lineups in their division. Nathan Eovaldi and Andrew Heaney are both great signings for this club, as they add further depth to what was one of the weaker rotations in baseball. They now enter 2023 with a rotation consisting of deGrom, Eovaldi, Jon Gray, Heaney, and Martin Perez, a competitive rotation when healthy. If this squad ends up being healthy, a sneaky playoff push isn't out of the picture for Texas.

Team MVP: Corey Seager

Team Cy Young: Jacob deGrom (If healthy, if not I'll give it to Eovaldi)

Team X-Factor: Jacob deGrom

The Nationals will host Texas for a three game set from July 7-9.

In all, the American League West could prove to be one of the more fun divisions in baseball. The main reason for being hesitant in this division is the fact that these teams are very "if" dependent. While it is more likely than not that the Astros and Mariners are strong teams, it remains up in the air if the Angels and Rangers can follow suit. To wrap everything up, here are my final standing predictions for the American League West:

1. Houston Astros (101-61)
2. Seattle Mariners (88-74)
3. Los Angeles Angels (81-81)
4. Texas Rangers (77-85)
5. Oakland Athletics (59-103)