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MLB’s 2020 Shortened Season, Shorter Preview: The AL West

In a shortened MLB season, who has the best odds at taking the AL West? The Angels? The Rangers? The Astros? The Mariners? How about the Athletics?

Oakland A’s by Aaron Scholl is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0

MLB’s 2020 Shortened Season, Shorter Preview: The AL West

Estimated Reading Time: 5 Minutes

The 60 game MLB Season is upon us, and what better way to begin a shortened season than with some truncated analysis and team previews. So we’ve taken the best bits from our “30 in 30” Preview series and put them all in one, easily accessible place.

So let’s dive into the American League West!

Seattle MarinersKevin Michael Morin

The Mariners are completely shifting their organization, hopefully for the better. Stocking their farm system with young potential, the Ms are looking towards the future, hoping it’s bright.

Justus Sheffield and Justin Dunn should plug directly into Seattle’s starting rotation. Both made leaps through the minors and into the September call-ups in 2019. Sheffield went 5-3 with a 2.19 ERA through 78 innings at AA Arkansas before going 2-6 with a 6.87 ERA through 55 at AA Tacoma. Including his month in the majors, he’s averaging 9 K/9 and a 2.2 K/BB ratio.

Dunn spent most of his time at AA Arkansas and managed to go 9-5 with a 3.55 ERA, 158 Ks, and 39 BBs through 131 2/3 innings. He didn’t see much action (6 1/3 innings in relief) in September, but with the direction Seattle seems to be moving, it could be worth giving him a shot.

Regardless, both should see ample playing time.

Some other excitement lies around three young guys looking to make their mark. First, Evan White got a pretty sweet deal, 6 years at $24M, for a guy who hasn’t proven himself in the majors. White is expected to be one of a couple rookies who make the starting 9. With his gold glove potential, White should be a lot of fun to watch on the right side of the diamond.

In the outfield, Kyle Lewis and Jarred Kelenec could be the future. Lewis is projecting to start in LF after a September that saw him hit .268. Kelenec is still just 20 years old, and will likely start in Arkansas or Tacoma. But come summertime, don’t be surprised to see the youngster at the Major League level.

While moving into a youth-first approach at certain positions seems to be the path forward, it’s still necessary to mix in the veterans, and those who exist in Seattle already should be great mentors. Jay Bruce, Dee Gordon, and Kyle Seager are solid players who will be expected to help fit the other pieces together.

It may be a season of change for the Mariners, but if they can develop some lineup consistency they’ll see the light at the end of the tunnel. I wouldn’t expect them to be contenders in 2020, but this season should lay the foundation they need for 2021 and beyond.

Houston Astros Justin Colombo

The Houston Astros will once again be one on the best teams in the league. That’s going to be tough for every non-Astros fan in the world to swallow, but it’s true. With a pitching staff that remains one of the best, despite losing Gerrit Cole to the Yankees, the Astros can once again take advantage of a weak AL West. The Astros are just too good.

Aside from their roster, the Astros tapped Dusty Baker to take over as manager after AJ Hinch was rightly removed. Regardless of what you think of him, Dusty Baker is a good manager, and he’s a great fit for this team.

After a tumultuous offseason, the Astros should try to focus on the bright side. There are no fans to boo them, they still have an elite pitching staff, and they’re a force to be reckoned with.

Texas RangersViolet Jones

Being a team in the AL West in 2020, it isn’t gonna be a Boot Scootin’ Boogie for this Rangers team. It’ll be hard to gain traction in a division that features the always tough 2017 World Series Champion* Houston Astros, Oakland A’s, and much improved Los Angeles Angels.

I think, right now, they’re better than the Angels. If they managed to sign someone like Nick Castellanos, they’re instantly better than the Oakland A’s in my book. I’m doubtful this team will be able to reach the talent level of the Astros without something massive. Like, say, a trade for Nolan Arenado, though…

I think its safe to be cautiously optimistic about 2020 if you’re a Texas Rangers fan. In fact, if someone passed me note that said “Do you think the Rangers will make the playoffs in 2020, yes or no?”, I’d check “yes”. (I wanted to make a George Strait reference so I did, deal with it)

Los Angeles AngelsJustin Colombo

If I’m the Angels, this season’s a wash. Let’s get Jo Adell up with the team, let’s let Joe Maddon’s system take root, and let’s see where we are after 60 games and go hard in the offseason.

The organization is in the midst of tactile change as well as internal identity struggle. But the shake-ups this past offseason have at least provided the Angels with the chance to start fresh.

With Maddon as their skipper, the Angels have a new manager for the first time in two decades. With Anthony Rendon signed onto a multi-year mega deal, the hot corner concerns have been solved. Now the only thing left to do is go out and win…

Well, that and get a solid starter or two, but baby steps…

If you’re an Angels fan you should be through the roof about the direction this team is trending. And while a playoff run might not happen this year, it’s certainly in the cards down the line.

Oakland AthleticsJustin Colombo

If you’re looking for a surprise in 2020 it could very well be the A’s. Their positional lineups haven’t changed too much as their farm system continues to produce. The A’s have a sabermetric dream of a lineup with solid fixtures at every position, but it’s on the mound where they can really take off.

With a healthy Sean Manaea, a non-suspended Frankie Montas, the veteran presence of Mike Fiers, the solid Chris Bassit, and the hotly anticipated debut of Jesus Luzardo, the A’s pitching could take them to new heights this season.

After their recent troubles in the AL Wildcard Game, they’ll need to get past Houston to secure the top AL West spot. With this team, that’s a possibility, they just need to play as well as they are constructed.

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