Astros’ opening day: A look at the AL west division


The Astros seemingly have bigger fish to fry than winning the AL West division in 2019, but failure to do so could leave the team out in the cold or fighting through a win or done Wild Card scenario. Here is a look at the AL West for 2019 in the predicted order of finish.

1) Houston Astros 2018: 103-59 AL West Winners. Lost in ALCS to Red Sox.

2018. Hitting – .255 BA (4th in AL) / .329 OBP (4th) / .754 OPS (5th) / 797 runs (5th) / 278 2Bs (8th) / 205 HRs (7th) / 71 SB (10th) / 565 BB (3rd) 1197 Ks (2nd least)

2018. Starting Pitching – 3.16 ERA (1st) / 1.12 WHIP (1st) / 100 HRs (2nd least) /       298 BBs (6th most) / 1101 Ks (1st) / .219 BA against (1st) / .645 OPS against (1st)

2018. Relief Pitching – 3.03 ERA (1st) / 1.06 WHIP (1st) / 46 Saves (T 4th) /                   52 HR (least) / 137 BBs (least) / 586 Ks (8th) / .214 BAA (1st) / .630 OPSA (1st)

Major Losses:

Major Additions:

Discussion. The Astros rode a top-notch offense and very good pitching to the 2017 World Series. The 2018 team’s starting pitching and bullpen were both at the top of baseball, while the offense took a step backward. They have sustained a lot of losses in this off-season, but strategically added at a few spots of need, moved a few pitchers around and added some lightly tested youth. It is interesting that the loss of three starting pitchers may show up more in the bullpen than in the rotation as they brought in Miley from the outside and moved Collin McHugh and Brad Peacock from the ‘pen to the rotation. The lineup losses may not affect the offense at all as Gattis had already lost his spot to Tyler White and Brantley will take up most of the ABs that Marwin took in LF. The key is getting their core guys back healthy and hacking.

Outlook. It is hard to picture a scenario where the Astros don’t do well in a division that looks pretty shaky. Even if they struggle with their pitching, they have some really impressive arms (Forrest Whitley, Corbin Martin, J.B. Bukauskas, Cionel Perez) only a phone call away. On top of that, the front office has not been shy to trade prospects for needs during the season.

Prediction: Astros finish 100-62 and first in the AL West followed by a long run into the playoffs

LA Angels 2018: 80-82 and fourth in AL West

2018. Hitting – .242 BA (11th in AL) / .313 OBP (10th) / .726 OPS (8th) / 721 runs (8th) / 249 2Bs (14th) / 214 HRs (5th) / 89 SB (6th) / 514 BB (9th) 1300 Ks (5th least)

2018. Starting Pitching – 4.34 ERA (7th) / 1.31 WHIP (8th) / 123 HRs (7th least) /       287 BBs (9th least) / 783 Ks (5th) / .250 BA against (7th) / .745 OPS against (8th)

2018. Relief Pitching – 3.92 ERA (7th) / 1.34 WHIP (8th) / 35 Saves (12th) /                   82 HR (12th least) / 259 BBs (3rd most) / 603 Ks (6th) / .247 BAA (7th) / .729 OPSA (7th)

Major Losses:

Major Additions:

Discussion. The most significant transaction for this team was the extension agreed to with the best player in the majors, Mike Trout. This removes a giant shadow and a heckuva lot of doubt for this team. In 2018 they were 8th in the league in runs scored and 7th in both SP ERA and RP ERA and ended up as the mediocre team they deserved. Two questions have hung over this team for a while. What if they were paying prime money for the prime of Pujols and what if they could actually dodge the injury bug, especially the pitching staff?

Outlook: Between injuries to Ohtani, former Astro Nick Tropeano, Andrew Heaney and Justin Upton, 2019 is not exactly starting off well for the Angels. They will get Ohtani back fairly early (as a DH) and if Cahill and Harvey can pick up where they left off last season, this team might be slightly above average.

Prediction: Angels finish 84-78 and second in the AL West

Oakland A’s 2018: 97-65 and second place in the AL West. Lost the Wild Card to the Yanks

2018. Hitting – .252 BA (6th in AL) / .325 OBP (6th) / .764 OPS (4th) / 813 runs (4th) / 322 2Bs (2nd) / 227 HRs (2nd) / 35 SB (15th) / 550 BB (6th) 1381 Ks (9th least)

2018. Starting Pitching – 4.17 ERA (6th) / 1.24 WHIP (5th) / 109 HRs (4th least) /       240 BBs (3rd least) / 610 Ks (14th) / .248 BA against (6th) / .719 OPS against (6th)

2018. Relief Pitching – 3.37 ERA (2nd) / 1.18 WHIP (2nd) / 44 Saves (6th) /                   75 HR (8th least) / 234 BBs (9th least) / 627 Ks (4th) / .220 BAA (2nd) / .658 OPSA (2nd)

Major Losses:

Major Additions:

Discussion. In 2018, the A’s combined a very solid offensive effort with a surprisingly solid starting rotation (helped by surprise seasons from Trevor Cahill, Edwin Jackson, Mike Fiers and Brett Anderson) and a very good bullpen led by closer Blake Treinen. The offense will miss Lowrie and the long term injury to Matt Olson (somewhat offset by the pickup of Morales). The rotation has to miss the losses of Cahill, Graveman and Jackson, though the familiar name of Dallas Keuchel gets bandied about as a possible late pickup. You would think the bullpen would miss the loss of so many arms listed above, though Soria could offset some of that loss.

Outlook 2018 for the A’s seemed like 2015 for the Astros, a season that is begging for a bit of regression.

Prediction: A’s finish 81-81 and third in the AL West

Seattle Mariners 2018: 89-73 and third place in the AL West

2018: Hitting – .254 BA (5th in AL) / .314 OBP (9th) / .722 OPS (11th) / 677 runs (11th) / 256 2Bs (13th) / 176 HRs (11th) / 79 SB (8th) / 430 BB (11th) 1221 Ks (3rd least)

2018: Starting Pitching – 4.35 ERA (8th) / 1.25 WHIP (6th) / 127 HRs (6th least) /       226 BBs (2nd least) / 772 Ks (6th) / .257 BA against (10th) / .737 OPS against (7th)

2018: Relief Pitching – 3.76 ERA (5th) / 1.23 WHIP (5th) / 60 Saves (1st) /                   68 HR (5th least) / 174 BBs (3rd least) / 556 Ks (10th) / .243 BAA (6th) / .708 OPSA (6th)

Major Losses:

Major Additions:

Discussion

In 2018 the M’s were a fairly weak offense with average starting pitching and a good bullpen. Their offseason was hard to figure as they parted with three of their best four everyday players (Cruz, Cano, Segura), arguably their best starter (Paxton) and four of their better relievers (Diaz, Colombe, Vincent, Pazos). You could say they were trying to get younger, but why trade young SS Segura? Why let one productive oldster walk (Cruz) while holding onto one terrible oldster Felix Hernandez, who has fallen from King Felix to Court Jester Felix. Yes, the path they were following was not going to catch the Astros any time soon, but they seemed to make a half effort at a re-build here and it felt like they did not get all they should have from the Segura trade.

Outlook

Looking at their Pythagorean W-L, the M’s should have been 77-85 in 2018, but had pretty good luck versus their performance. They will not sniff 89 wins in 2019 (I don’t care that they are 2-0 already).

Prediction: Mariners – 80-82 and 4th place in the AL West

Texas Rangers 2018: 67-95 and fifth in the AL West

2018. Hitting – .240 BA (14th in AL) / .318 OBP (7th) / .722 OPS (10th) / 737 runs (7th) / 266 2Bs (11th) / 194 HRs (8th) / 74 SB (9th) / 555 BB (4th) 1484 Ks (2nd most)

2018. Starting Pitching – 5.37 ERA (14th) / 1.44 WHIP (14th) / 148 HRs (2nd most) /       277 BBs (8th least) / 590 Ks (15th) / .281 BA against (14th) / .832 OPS against (14th)

2018. Relief Pitching – 4.28 ERA (8th) / 1.35 WHIP (9th) / 42 Saves (7th) /                   74 HR (7th least) / 214 BBs (4th least) / 531 Ks (12th) / .256 BAA (9th) / .748 OPSA (9th)

Major Losses:

Major Additions:

Discussion: The 2018 Rangers were an overall bad club. Somehow they turned pretty poor hitting into scoring runs near the league average per game. However, their starting pitching was leaking like a sieve, giving up more than 2 earned runs more per game than the Astros staff. Their bullpen was decent. In the off-season they decided to jettison most of their starting staff, went and grabbed Lance Lynn who was below average in 2018, Shelby Miller who only pitched 16 bad innings in 2018, Volquez who did not pitch in 2017 and Drew Smyly, who pitched 1 minor league inning in the last two seasons. And the funny thing is the rotation was so bad that this may be an improvement.

Outlook: Some improvement in the rotation will help this team, but it is a lot to expect them to all stay healthy. The retirement of Beltre even after a so-so year has to hurt the heart of this club.

Prediction: Rangers 72-90 and fifth in the AL West

Other predictions……

  1. The World Series winner will come from these three clubs.
  2. The Astros should be the favorite, but they won in 2017 because they were healthy in the playoffs and injuries hurt them in the playoffs in 2018.
  3. I don’t care who the AL champ plays in the WS. They will win.
  4. Alex Bregman will be close on the MVP award, but Mike Trout will be hard to beat.
  5. I can’t wait to see some of the young Astro arms, especially in the second half of the season
  6. The A’s and Mariners will both fall off this season.

I am just happy that I can root for a team that actually has a good chance to contend every season. The nightmare of 2011-2014 is way in the rearview mirror

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68 comments on “Astros’ opening day: A look at the AL west division

  1. rrj, Dan really wanted us to leave that thread behind. Blob slob? I like slobola more. Or Tubby Tuna. But really, those names are indeed all in good fun. Growing up with 6 brothers, it was non stop. We’d give noogies to each other on the way to communion in mass on Sunday. Maybe I was broken then. And admittedly, I am one of the cynics here, or at least have it in my genes. Not to boparts degree, but yes, I’m guilty.

    I guess my thing with Carlos is that I just can’t fathom anyone missing the opener unless on his deathbed. But hopfully I’m totally all wet with my unsubstantiated speculation. One thing that did strike me a bit was that Hinch’s comments sounded a bit clipped, like he might be getting a bit tired of dealing with this particular issue.

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  2. Lot’s of effort Dan!
    1. World Series, I think it’s an American League club. Us and those two East Coasters.
    2. Yes, 2017 was a season of injuries, a whole bunch of missed starts and an overworked pen along with once in a lifetime team hitting. The starters were fresh and healthy in October. We had r0tation guys to take over for the pen and really save the post season. And the bats kept producing. Magic!
    3. See # 1
    4. I hate to put too much pressure on Bregman. If he repeats 2018, it would mean back to back stunning seasons, although I think he has quite a bit of growth left.
    5. I think we’ll see some of those arms in the first half!
    6. I agree. I don’t see the A’s going so far again without a rotation.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Seems like you have a good handle on the division, Dan. The A’s are always a wild card in my mind. Could win 90, could lose 90, toss a coin. I just hope our boys stay healthy and play up to their capabilities.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Today’s lineup
    RF Springer
    2B Altuve
    3B Bregman
    LF Brantley
    1B Gurriel
    DH White
    C Chirinos
    SS Diaz
    CF Marisnick

    P – Verlander

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  5. Chirinos works a long count into a walk – Marisnick does the same thing and then Springer takes Cy Snell (not to be confused with Cy Sneed) downtown!

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  6. Brantley has been averaging about 1 caught stealing a season lately(62 steals out of his last 68 attempts) and what happens in the first game with the Astros……???

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  7. Three things today:
    All the runs were outta there
    Caught stealing *TWICE*…..not good.
    Hinch talking to Verlander about how much he had left, then turning around and going back in the dugout. spells….*trust* in your Ace!
    This is the 7th opening game in a row that these guys won…awesome!
    Correa missing the opener was pretty unusual, I don’t wanna hear any more excuses….or I will get on a plane and give him a REAL stiff neck. Pick up that glove and get your a$$ out there.

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  8. I was watching the Astros replay – Correa was one of the first guys out of the dugout to congratulate Springer, Brantley and Altuve on their HRs.
    It seemed positive to me.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Got to watch all of todays game.
    * Verlander was terrific. The changeup was a weapon.
    *Snell had pretty good stuff but the Astros seemed ready for it.
    * I guess if the Astros had stolen the two bases I would have been happy. But baserunners sure took the bat out of the batter’s hand twice.
    *I think Hinch wanted to get the Pressly/Osuna first game jitters out of the way.
    * I’m not sure Altuve didn’t yell out at Diaz on that error and mess Diaz up. One of the announcers seemed to agree.
    * Tomorrow will be Alex Bregman Day.
    * Things are moving faster in between innings and this was one of the fastest games I have seen in awhile.
    * I did not see Verlander having any problems with Chirinos.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I only watched some of the action on replay. Did Chirinos gun down Pham in the first or was it a failed hit and run – it was a big play to get JV an out.

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      • Verlander bounced a curve in and Chirinos made a great block as the runner took off for second. Chirinos came up with the ball and the runner froze halfway to second. From there Chirinos started a perfectly executed rundown.

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    • I remain convinced that on this club, stolen bases should only be attempted when the chance of success is optimum, with oversight from the dugout. I know there all kinds of metrics for this stuff too. The green light concept does not seem to work very well for us.

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      • Look up top at the Oakland A’s – they scored the 4th most runs in the AL and they stole 35!!! bases all year as a team. SBs are almost archaic these days – to be attempted only under very certain circumstances

        Liked by 1 person

    • Watched the “replay” on mlb.com last night. All in all l liked what I saw. I think Verlander is just super. Bouncing back from a couple of stressful innings (my stress) to a masterful game. An excellent investment. Brantley has already made me forget about Marwin. A Diaz..still not impressed. All around timely hitting. Home runs always are. Go get ‘em today guys.

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  10. As to the West Division, it always seems that one team wins a disproportionate number of games within their division. That makes them have a better record than the others. Not sure who it would be this year, but my guess is the Angels. The other three just don’t seem to have much as the season starts. Now, watch me miss that one by about 15 games. (And General manager Jerry Dipoto of the Mariners must be the world’s best salesman/talker/something.)

    https://www.seattletimes.com/sports/mariners/stepping-back-inside-the-mariners-decision-to-change-direction-in-2019-after-an-89-win-2018/

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    • I really really struggled ranking the middle 3 in the division. I could be way off on those.
      I can see situations where any of those three teams are #2 to the Astros. I have trouble seeing any of them overtake the Astros or undertake the Rangers.

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      • One of the reasons I like the Mariners more than most is because they got rid of a couple of guys in the clubhouse that were problems. Cano and Segura. They lost Cruz, but Cruz was entrenched there and Encarnacion is a good replacement who comes into a situation where he tries to fit in, instead of everyone having to fit in with Cruz.
        Also, Seattle has a legit CFer, which they did not have last season. When Seager returns, this is going to be a talented group with good players in their correct positions. No stars, but a tighter knit group.

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  11. Tonight’s lineup will be fun to see.
    Is Reddick in RF?
    Is Kemp at DH?
    Is Correa feeling well enough to play?
    Can’t wait to see.
    All I said about Seattle is I think they will be better than most people think.
    There was nothing to like about the Rangers yesterday.
    The Athletics play better in Oakland than they do in Tokyo.

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  12. You have to wonder how the guys feel about facing their former teammate Charlie Morton. The guy who won two Game 7’s for them. The guy who pitched the heck out of the ball for two seasons. The only guys with ABs against him in games are Brantley and Diaz (Chirinos does also, but is not in the lineup).
    Do they know any tells or pitch tip offs about their old buddy?

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    • I will give Carlos a small break here. It sounds like he fell awkwardly making a tag out in a rundown, should be ready to go on Saturday but wont go Saturday because his manager wants to wait one day too long instead of one day too short. So likely not back until.Sunday.
      I would rather he play them all but if he starts on Sunday and is healthy I will take that.

      Liked by 1 person

      • dan. the team, trainers and medical staff have to clear correa before he is allowed on the field. i am sure hinch is anxious to get him out there. obviously it is better to be cautious than to risk a longer term problem. i would trust them on this WAY before i would trust the judgement of the bloggers…

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  13. Saw the link to this article on Bleacher Report today:
    https://deadspin.com/the-inside-story-of-how-the-ricketts-family-schemed-and-1831879476
    It’s a very long but fascinating story about the sale of the Cubs franchise in 2009. Linked in the article were a number of other sources, one of which was a valuation of the Cubs performed at the time by outside consultants. I don’t suggest spending much time with the valuation article unless you’re a total financial geek or extremely interested in the economics of baseball, but I mined a few interesting nuggets from it:
    1. At least for the Cubs, player salaries run a little under 100% of gate revenues. In the financial projection they estimated player salaries in 2018 (which was 10 years down the road at that time) at about $224M. They were at about $194M according to SportTrac for 2018. One of the points made was that the Cubs wanted to stay in the top 5 highest payrolls in baseball to maintain fan goodwill since they were contemplating other moves to enhance revenue (raise prices, of course, sell seat licenses, etc.).
    2. Gate revenues make up only 40 to 50% of the teams total revenue.
    3. I’ve always wondered how to project concession revenues. In the 10 year projection they were at about $18/head in 2009, with 43% of that going to the concessionaire.
    4. Back then they estimated zero revenues for postseason play. They were still the Cubs of the previous 100 years back then, so that’s still a number I’d like to learn more about.

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  14. Hello gang, good to see this show on the road finally. Spent the whole day watching baseball yesterday on 3 diff devices. The Stros got big screen coverage of course. Here’s hoping for a 2-0 start today

    Liked by 3 people

  15. Wow an Old School and Simon Davey siting on the same day!
    Love to hear from folks – love the season starting – loved Bregman’s big two out hit (though why run in to the third out at third base) did not like the stinky bottom of the 3rd

    Liked by 2 people

  16. I feel a bit sorry for this Diaz kid, but heck, Correa gave him a shot to show he belongs and he has not convinced anyone yet.

    I noted over on the CF blog that some of the experts there are already down on Reddick for his GDP. They seem to be convinced Jake is our center fielder.

    Cole hurt himself tonight by throwing a few misplaced pitches. I think he let his focus wander when Diaz let him down.

    Let’s see if we can get into an early season habit of coming back late.

    OldSchool, Simon, good evening gentlemen.

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    • What I saw was Diaz make a good stop and a poor throw, but a throw that a larger 1B can catch with his foot on first. One of Gurriel’s drawbacks is his size. Cole let down a little bit, but a number of the hits were bloops – a bad combination that led to 3 unearned runs.

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  17. The Houston Cougars were outmanned in the paint and it cost them dearly last night.
    Diaz’s errors were the difference for the Astros. But, they didn’t hit either.
    The Milwaukee Bucks snuck up on me.
    As usual, I was wrong. Last night was not Alex Bregman’s night.
    The Mariners really missed Edwin Diaz in the ninth inning yesterday.
    How totally dumb is it for Major League Baseball to schedule only eight games on the first Friday of the season? I mean the Yankees got a day off at home on the second day of the season. What the hell is that?
    Oakland’s bullpen gave up 6 runs on 8 hits and 2 BBs in the final two innings of a loss to the Angels. Marco Estrada throws six shutout innings in his first start in Oakland and then the vaunted bullpen does that? Go figure.
    Any Dodger loss is a good one. A loss in 13 innings is better. Joe Kelly blowing a save is the best.
    Fernando Tatis, Jr is 3 for 6 in his first MLB ABs. He’s 20 years old.

    Liked by 1 person

    • UH was playing a team that played just as hard and tough defense as they do and was bigger. It was almost a miracle they tenaciously came from 11 down to 3 up. The Coogs had two big guys foul out and that certainly hurt.
      A’s and M’s bullpens – looking at the lists above they both lost a lot of arms out of their ‘pens
      Don’t give up on Diaz yet – but we knew the defensive side of Marwin would be the tougher part to replace.

      Liked by 1 person

  18. Pingback: Baseball Blogs Weigh In: Young Stars, Fowler, Brewers, A’s, Predictions | The baseball bats fanatic

  19. Pingback: Baseball Blogs Weigh In: Young Stars, Fowler, Brewers, A’s, Predictions – mrwilliamjobrien

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