The American League West division was full of emotions during the 2021 MLB regular season.
Yes, the 95-67 Houston Astros won the division with a five-game difference over the 90-72 Seattle Mariners.
But both the Mariners and the Oakland Athletics were in the running for a Wild Card spot until late in the season.
In fact, there was a time in September, the last month of the campaign, when Seattle could challenge Houston’s lead, but ultimately, it didn’t happen.
The Los Angeles Angels were a bitter disappointment, once again, and the Texas Rangers finished in the basement and were even worse.
Here is a way-too-early look at the division with next year in mind.
The Astros Are Still Favorites, But…
The Astros, currently playing in the World Series, still look like favorites to take the division next year, too.
They showed this season that they can go places even without Justin Verlander (out while rehabbing from Tommy John surgery).
Their lineup remains too good to imagine them finishing lower than second place in the division.
However, they do have some pending free agents that could pave the way for the Mariners and maybe the Angels and A’s to swoop in and fight for the AL West.
Perhaps they could retain one or some of them, but certainly not all.
The Mariners, meanwhile, are an up-and-coming team with some exciting young talent.
They will probably let Kyle Seager go because he has an expensive option, but they have a lot of talent coming up in Julio Rodriguez, Noelvi Marte, Emerson Hancock, George Kirby, and lots of other prospects.
They could fight for a playoffs spot in 2022.
If they can get some pitching, they could be dangerous.
If the Angels are serious about contending in 2022 they are going to have to go over the luxury tax threshold. They need to find elite pitching and an elite shortstop. That will be very expensive. Dumpster diving must be a thing of the past.
— Captain Howdy (@JDApsley) October 5, 2021
Oakland Could Take A Step Back
The A’s just let their longtime manager Bob Melvin go, and while they aren’t expected to rebuild, they could take a step back next year.
They have several good players finishing their contracts after the World Series: Mark Canha, Starling Marte, Yan Gomes, Josh Harrison, Yusmeiro Petit, Khris Davis, Trevor Rosenthal, Sergio Romo, and Jed Lowrie are some of them.
They also traded promising starter Jesus Luzardo in July, and could have a hard time keeping up with the Astros, M’s, and Angels.
The Bob Melvin defection is an awful sign for what may be coming for the Oakland Athletics, who are expected to reduce payroll.
— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) October 29, 2021
The Rangers remain, by far, the worst team in the division.
Projected AL West Standings:
- Houston Astros
- Seattle Mariners
- Los Angeles Angels
- Oakland Athletics
- Texas Rangers