1. Houston Astros
The Astros are the defending world series champions, but they arguably made their team even better this offseason with the addition of star pitcher Gerrit Cole. Either way, it’s very difficult to find a weakness on this roster. The Astros have a terrific lineup led by AL MVP Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa, George Springer, and Alex Bregman. Houston also has other contibutors in their lineup, but those 4 guys are the core that will carry them for several years to come. Houston also has a terrific starting rotation with Dallas Keuchel, Justin Verlander, and Gerrit Cole leading the rotation. They also have Lance McCullers and Charlie Morton who provide even more depth to the rotation. Houston also has a reliable bullpen with closer Ken Giles and quality setup men Will Harris and Chris Devenski. Houston is definitely the favorite to win the AL West this year and they have all of the pieces to make a deep playoff run once again.
2. Los Angeles Angels
The Angels just missed out on the playoffs last season, but they made some offseason additions that could allow them to be a playoff team in 2018. Los Angeles added Ian Kinsler to be their starting 2nd basemen as that has been a major area of weakness for a few years. The Angels also added Zack Cozart this offseason as he will help to fill a void at the 3rd base position. Those two players will just make the Angels lineup even more dangerous especially with the team already having Mike Trout, Justin Upton, and Albert Pujols in their lineup. However, the key for the Angels will be their starting rotation as their starting pitchers failed to stay healthy last season. Garrett Richards is back in 2018 after missing most of last season due to injury and Andrew Heaney is also returning set to return from injury. The Angels also made a big splash in free agency by signing Shohei Ohtani, but it is a mystery as to how he will adjust to the MLB level since he has only played professionally in Japan. If the starting pitchers for the Angels can stay healthy then they should have a decent starting rotation especially if Ohtani is able to live up to the hype. Meanwhile, the Angels bullpen could be a major issue for the team heading into 2018. Blake Parker figures to be the team’s closer in 2018, but he is rather unproven in that role. The Angels also added Jim Johnson this offseason as a setup man, yet Johnson had an awful 2017 season for Atlanta as he had a 5.56 ERA. Los Angeles also has Cam Bedrosian as a late-inning option, but he struggled for the Angels last season with a 4.43 ERA. Los Angeles needs improvement from Johnson and Bedrosian if this bullpen is going to be successful in 2018. Overall, the Angels should be able to score plenty of runs with their deep lineup, although the starting rotation and bullpen are what is holding them back from competing with the Astros.
3. Seattle Mariners
Seattle is a team that has been on the verge of finally making the playoffs, but they just haven’t been able to do so. The Mariners will probably compete for a playoff spot in 2018, although it is unlikely that they will be able to secure a wild-card spot. Seattle has a very good lineup with Nelson Cruz, Robinson Cano, and Kyle Seager providing the power in the middle of the lineup. However, the Mariners also acquired Dee Gordon this offseason who will be their new leadoff hitter with his tremendous speed. Seattle should be able to score runs, but the question will be their pitching staff. Felix Hernandez clearly isn’t the starting pitcher that he once was and he is not the ace of the rotation anymore. James Paxton is the team’s new ace, although the problem for Paxton is that he just can’t seem to stay healthy consistently. Mike Leake and Erasmo Ramirez will provide decent depth in their rotation as the 3rd and 4th starters. However, the Mariners need Paxton to stay healthy and Hernandez to return to form if their starting pitching is to be successful. Meanwhile, the Mariners bullpen should be very good as they have Edwin Diaz as a good closer. However, they also have plenty of depth with Juan Nicasio, Nick Vincent, and David Phelps being good late-inning options. Seattle should be a playoff contender in 2018, but the key to their success will be the starting rotation.
4. Texas Rangers
The Texas Rangers are a team that is definitely trending in the wrong direction as they were a good team a couple of years ago, but now they probably aren’t even a playoff contender. Texas still has a very good lineup and they can hit for some power with Joey Gallo, Rougned Odor, Adrian Beltre, Shin-Soo Choo, and Nomar Mazara leading the way. The team also has Elvis Andrus who can hit for some power as well and he provides tremendous speed as well. The Rangers will hit plenty of home runs this season, but they might still struggle to score some runs as they don’t have many players that hit for a good average. Texas also has a decent bullpen as they have Alex Claudio, Keone Kela, and Jake Diekman as solid late-inning options. However, they need to find which one of those guys will be their closer in 2018, although Claudio seems like the best option out of that group. The one major concern for the Rangers is their starting pitching as they have 5 veteran starters, but those starters all really struggled last season. Cole Hamels is the clear ace for the rotation, yet he needs to be much better than he was last season. Martin Perez, Doug Fister, and Matt Moore have all had success at the MLB level. However, those 3 guys seem to be trending in the wrong direction at this point in their careers. Texas has the lineup to be competitive, but they need more out of their pitching if they want to even be competitive in 2018.
5. Oakland Athletics
Oakland is kind of a mystery team heading into 2018 as they have plenty of young talent, although they aren’t expected to be playoff contenders. Khris Davis is the clear threat in the Athletics lineup as he is one of the best power hitters in the game. However, the Athletics also have young players Matt Olson and Matt Chapman that have proven that they are capable of hitting for power as well. Oakland’s lineup certainly has the potential to hit home runs, but they probably won’t hit for average or score many runs in general. Meanwhile, Oakland’s starting rotation is a complete unknown as it is full of young and uproven starting pitchers. Kendall Graveman and Sean Manaea are probably the team’s best starting pitchers, but neither has proven themselves as the best of the group. Jharel Cotton and Daniel Mengden also have some potential, although they both haven’t been very good early on in their careers. Oakland’s rotation has tremendous potential since they are such a young group and they don’t have much MLB experience. However, somebody needs to step up and pitch well because they don’t really have a leader in their starting rotation. Oakland could have a good starting rotation, but it could also be terrible and we’ll just have to see which young starting pitcher can step up. Oakland’s bullpen has a chance to be good this season as they have Blake Treinen as a decent closer. Also, they have Santiago Casilla and Yusmeiro Petit as experienced late-inning options in their bullpen. However, Oakland’s bullpen has some quality depth overall and it should be the overall strength of the team heading into 2018. The Athletics probably aren’t going to be a playoff contender in 2018. However, don’t count the A’s out since they are an intriguing team with all of their young talent and they could be a sneaky team in 2018.