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2021 MLB Predictions: Sizing up the AL West

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With the 2021 MLB season only a few months away, 2021 MLB predictions for the AL West division get a bit overlooked when people see the moves being made by teams like the San Diego Padres and the Chicago White Sox.

However, the division still is loaded with young talent just itching at the bit to get out and make a name for themselves, veterans trying to bring their teams to the postseason, and teams fighting to break into the main World Series picture.

Although more moves will be made before the 2021 season is to begin, these predictions show where each team will finish the season come October with where the teams are right now.

2021 MLB Predictions: AL West Standings

1. Houston Astros (2020: 2nd 29-31)

The Astros will reign as the AL West champions. The 2020 season was quite telling for the Astros. With injuries to the starting rotation and having to plug in new faces in the bullpen and in the lineup, the Astros still found a way to reach the playoffs in the shortened 2020 season.

They are not coming back at full strength, however. Centerfield centerpiece George Springer has already taken his leave from the team leaving a hole in the outfield. Even then, the Astros have an answer. Young outfielder Kyle Tucker took strides in 2020 and looks poised to fight for that position in Spring Training.

As for the main flaw on the team, outfield depth could be a problem. Last season, the depth was a strength of the team with having each position locked in and still good young guys on the bench. This year, with the departures of both Springer and Michael Brantley, young players like Tucker and speedster Myles Straw. It will be interesting to see how they recover that depth before the start of the season.

Regardless of this flaw, the Astros still look ahead of the pack in the AL West and the division is theirs to lose.

2. Oakland Athletics (2020: 1st 36-24)

While the scrappy A’s will perform this year, they don’t have the talent to take the division.

2020 definitely benefited the A’s by being on a shorter schedule. They got hot early and parlayed that into a division win when many experts had predicted the Astros to repeat.

This is not to say the Athletics are not a good team. They are a good team that will compete for the division and maybe win a wild card spot. Their main strengths are in their stellar offense led by the “Corner Matts” Chapman and Olson and an outfield that knows how to handle a bat.

Consistency is the name of the game for the A’s in 2021. Fans have seen that when their core group of hitters and young pitchers are on a roll, they are a dominant force on the diamond. The problem is doing it on a consistent basis.

On top of that, losing rising star shortstop Marcus Semien and reliever Liam Hendriks definitely hurts the team and will make their journey to the top a lot harder.

3. Seattle Mariners (2020: 3rd 27-33)

Are the Mariners a playoff team yet? No. Are they on their way and building towards their first playoff appearance in almost two decades? Yes.

In 2020, the Mariners showed signs of the future with the unanimous Rookie of the Year Kyle Lewis emerging as a breakout star, young pitching prospects like Justin Dunn and Justus Sheffield getting much needed playing time, and two young gold glove winners in J.P. Crawford and Evan White.

While the team is building for the future, the future is not quite here yet. The young talent needs more time to develop and the players in the minors like Jarred Kelenic and Logan Gilbert need experience.

The bullpen is the biggest issue for Seattle going into 2020. The bullpen lacks any major names but does have a couple of names for fans to be excited about including Andres Munoz and Rafael Montero. If they can add to the struggling bullpen, the Mariners could compete for a wildcard spot in 2021.

4. Los Angeles Angels (2020: 4th 26-34)

The Angels have had a hard time keeping up with their inter-state rivals the Dodgers and Padres and it doesn’t look like 2021 will be any different.

2020 didn’t treat the Angels well with key injuries to big players like Shohei Ohtani and just not having the pitching needed to make it through even a shortened season.

The team has amazing talent on the offensive front with the best player in baseball currently Mike Trout, Anthony Rendon, and David Fletcher. This core is what the team has built their offensive identity around and it is one of the best in the American League.

For the Angels, the problem is the same it has been for years. The team just doesn’t have enough pitching. The best starter they have right now is Dylan Bundy with Andrew Heaney making a solid 1-2 punch, however, the rest of the rotation has holes and the bullpen needs some serious improvement.

If the Angels can improve the pitching situation and make a big splash, they can shoot up the standings at rocket speed.

5. Texas Rangers (2020: 5th 22-38)

Globe Life Field may be complete, but the Texas Rangers team is not. After finishing last in the AL West in 2020, things are not looking better for the Rangers in 2021.

Texas is now fully into a rebuild and is seeing the low points of it. Their main head going forward is slugger Joey Gallo who is also coming off a down year in 2020. The other big positive for them this season is the young talent that is coming up and performing well like Leody Taveras.

As for problem areas, the biggest problem area is the pitching. Jose LeClerc looks to be the top reliever going to 2021 and the starting rotation needs help. The offense has pieces that can score runs, but without a pitching staff, it isn’t enough to win.

This may end up being a tanking year for the Rangers, but they have shown that they can rebuild and have good pieces to build around going forward.

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Main image credit: Embed from Getty Images

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