The MLB regular season will be the first sports to return to us during the COVID-19 pandemic. Starting on July 23rd sports will finally return. With basketball shortly following late July is one of the best times to be a sports fan. With the MLB coming up first we will start previewing their divisions first starting with the AL West.
The Astros have gotten the most buzz during the offseason with the scandal. Even though their manager and GM was fired, they got fined a lot, and draft picks were taken from them, it wasn’t enough. The players in the MLB. being the most voiced in the league constantly saying a lot more should happen. This has now created a wall of hate between everyone else in the MLB and the Houston Astros. Quite honestly, I don’t blame them, going through a long 162 game schedule is challenging. To know there is someone out there taking an easier route to the championship is just frustrating to all those players in the league. I don’t think this will stop until the championship is taken away from this team
On the other hand, the Astros and still a very good team and have plenty of talent to make another run into the playoffs this year. Not to mention the games will have no fans leading which will help with heckling and booing that was sure to come. Houston’s rotation took a hit with the loss of Gerrit Cole, but the late season also lets Justin Verlander slide into the rotation after his groin surgery. They still have star power all around them and the veteran experience on this team should once again lead to a first-place finish for the Astros. (Predictions at the bottom)
The Athletics are one of those teams who keep being unexpectedly good, this year we should be able to anticipate it a little bit faster. The A’s have solid defense and pitching which almost always leads to a good team and in a 60 game season that is exactly what you need. Sean Manaea and Frankie Montas are two pitchers that the Oakland Athletics are getting back and both are solid. Before Manaea got hurt he had a no-hitter against the Boston Red Sox who were eventual World Series winners. A late-season only helps him as he has plenty of time to rest his arm and be fully prepared for the short season. Montas, on the other hand, was suspended for PEDs after an all-star season with a 2.70 ERA in 2019. We will have to see how good they are now and how much depth they can add to the team.
The biggest question for the Athletics is whether or not they can fill the spot at second base. They had a chance to pursue a few players in the offseason and ended up taking a risk on a former top prospect in Tony Kemp. Him and Franklin Barreto are both players that will have to step up for this to pay off for the A’s. I don’t see this as a great move for Oakland and may have to lead to them paying for 2B in the future. Oakland plays in arguably the toughest division in baseball right now. Hopefully, they will be able to pounce on any mistakes from their division foes.
Los Angles Angels
The Angles had one of the busier offseason in baseball getting Joe Maddon as their manager and picking up Anthony Rendon from the Nationals. Every year the Angels have a lot of hype coming into the season and every year they just seem to disappoint. Two-way star Shohei Ohtani is finally healthy and they can finally get some quality starts then this could be a competitive team.
It wasn’t that long ago that Joe Maddon lead his team to the World Series when he was a manager in Chicago. In that team they had plenty of veterans that could play offense and defense and overall were playing good baseball at the right time. Now he inherits a similar team, a shorter team, and a tough division. I don’t know, I see many people and experts saying the Angels are going to be a very good team, but I don’t see it. They just don’t have a long enough season to mesh and get right. They have the veterans, they have the ability to play some good offense and defense. The problem is they don’t have time to really show that ability. I see them starting off slow and picking it up towards the end, but by the end it’s too late.
The Texas Rangers had a great offseason even though you might not have heard their name as much as the more competitive teams. Before the offseason they had two great pitchers in Mike Minor and Lance Lynn who were outstanding last year. Now they bring Corey Kluber back home to Dallas and add another great pitcher who not long ago won the Cy Young award. They also went out and got Kyle Gibson and Jordan Lyles. Both of those players are also solid players to add to the rotation. The Rangers already had some great pitching last year with Minor and Lynn, now add Kluber, Gibson, and Lyles. This looks like a rotation that is loaded with talent and full of potential to be one of the best in baseball.
They also addressed some much needed help at third base grabbing Todd Frazier and are also still trying to get Nolan Arenado. With Nolan, I have no doubt the Rangers will shoot higher into the playoff race because they are helping with their offense and defense. Without him, this team is still full of great players and has the potential to be in the mix for a Wild Card. A healthy Joey Gallo also returns this year for the Rangers which is a big boost on the offensive side. Watch out for the Rangers to possibly make a run.
Seattle started last year and just decided to fall into tanking mode and slowly started their rebuilding process. They ended the season with a second to last batting average and 23rd in team ERA. They are now in year two of that process and just cause there is a shortened season, doesn’t mean that they are gonna jump into the playoff race. I think the Mariners will end up giving their prospects a lot of reps which in turn will not give them a whole lot of wins. There are a lot of people saying that Kyle Seager and Dee Gordon will also get moved around this season to completely rebuild the team. While I think that is a very real possibility, the Mariners should try to hold on to one for this season. It is always good to have a veteran presence on your team especially to get some wins off your divisional foes.
I think overall the Astros win the division by a few games with stellar hitting despite all the people who will definitely throw balls inside at them. In second, I see the A’s and Rangers fighting with the Athletics pulling it out. Then the Angels round out fourth and Seattle in last. I think the Angels need a full year to really get settled and then start moving towards that playoff spot
1. Houston Astros 36-24
2. Oakland Athletics 32- 28
3. Texas Rangers 31-29
4. Los Angles Angels 27-33
5. Seattle Mariners 22-38
Top picture by (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)(Tony Gutierrez / AP)