Houston (CBS HOUSTON) – The Astros are the early clear-cut favorite to win the American League West division. They have been since Houston became an offseason destination for a couple high-profile free agents, but World Series Championships are not won in the offseason and the rest of the division knows that. Here is what we know after the first ten games of the season.
The coveted hot start was essentially missed by every team in the AL West. The Astros and Angels are tied on top with records of (6-4), followed by the A’s at (5-5), the Rangers (4-5) and the Mariners (2-8). While the first two weeks of April don’t shed too much light on all of the potential, it is still visible where a team finds its strength.
The Mariners have missed the playoffs for nearly two decades, an unprecedented drought for an organization that has had great success. While they were underwhelming in Houston during Opening Week, there is plenty of talent to catch fire as the season continues. It is worth mentioning that they have a lot to play for in getting a playoff monkey off their back, and also that they have the star power in Felix Hernandez, Nelson Cruz and Robinson Cano to make it happen.
The Rangers are so far the surprise of the division. While it is early to say that they have flopped, a losing record at any point in the season is expectedly unacceptable for a team that feels they will be back in October. With Yu Darvish and Cole Hamels as a one-two punch in the rotation, this team could get back on track quickly.
The Athletics are the wild card of the division as usual. While the players are not at the top in any popularity contest, they always seem to be organized in a way that creates results. Whether you credit General Manager Billy Beane, emerging talent, or dumb luck, the inescapable feeling is the team can steal important wins in what is shaping up to be a tight division.
The Angels, at the top of the division, are turning some heads early on. With the likes of Mike Trout and Albert Pujols, the lineup can always lean on each other for help. The rotation is sly and good enough to keep games close for the offense, and the team again will be pushing to reach their anticipated numbers.
Also at the top we find the Astros, who appear ready to explode. The lineup is not completely in rhythm to manufacture runs, but it looks to be a year where an individual player will carry the team through tough stretches. The rotation is out with a vengeance to prove they are healthy and capable, namely Dallas Keuchel and Lance McCullers, and the team as a whole is going to have to fight to reach their lofty expectations.
The early weeks of the season are tough to see who the real contenders are. At a glance, the West could be the division with many teams floating around a competitive .500 win mark. Expect to learn things about each roster that were unanticipated around Opening Day.
Derek Fogel, reporter/host @FogelSaidWhat