It’s time to play ball as the 2023 Major League Baseball season returns. Last season was wild, and the Houston Astros can finally raise a World Series trophy that won’t be tarnished by allegations of cheating. The 2023 campaign should bring a faster, more exciting game as changes and new rules are being implemented that all fans, and teams, will have to get used to. There were massive deals and huge roster moves so let’s break it all down and get you caught up. Here is a preview of the AL West.
What Happened in 2022:
Houston finally got the monkey off their back and won a legitimate ring in 2022. Their lineup was scary, and their pitching was fantastic. The star of the show was Jeremy Pena, the shortstop who didn’t just replace Carlos Correa but was certainly better than him last season. The feel-good story of the division was the Seattle Mariners who finally broke their playoff drought and swept the Blue Jays in the AL Wild Card round in thrilling fashion. Getting past Houston in the ALDS was a much more difficult task, but they showed that they are legit and that their very long rebuild is over. For the rest of the crew, they all finished well under .500 with the biggest disappointment coming in LA where the Angels once again did a whole lot of nothing despite having two of the greatest players on the planet.
Players to Watch:
Astros – 1B Jose Abreu – Ya gotta be kidding me. Abreu is one of the most feared hitters in the league and he makes this Astros lineup even scarier than it already was.
Rangers – SS Corey Seager – He didn’t have the season that we were used to seeing from him in Los Angeles, but players of his caliber seem to bounce back in year two after a big free agent signing.
Mariners – CF Julio Rodriguez – He won the AL Rookie of the Year in 2022 and there is a good chance his name will be in MVP conversation this year. He can do it all and he has a lot of fun doing it.
Athletics – OF Esteury Ruiz – A young prospect with incredible speed who stole over 80 bases between the minors and one in the majors, he came over in the Sean Murphy trade from the Brewers.
Angels – P/DH Shohei Ohtani – There isn’t much to say here other than that he is the face of baseball and the best player in the world. Count your lucky stars that you’re alive during his era.
Biggest Additions and Subtractions:
The biggest addition came from the Texas Rangers who completely revamped their pitching rotation by adding two-time Cy Young winner Jacob deGrom and Nathan Eovaldi. On top of that, they pulled Bruce Bochy out of his retirement to make them a lethal team this year. The Astros watched C Christian Vazquez and INF/OF Trey Mancini, two deadline pieces, move on in free agency and they also lost P Justin Verlander. They did bring in Abreu. The Mariners continued to add with OF Teoscar Hernandez and 2B Kolten Wong which should make them one of the better defensive teams in the league. Of course, Oakland sold as much as they could, including All Star catcher Sean Murphy.
The Mariners are my pick this year considering there isn’t a whole lot going on in that Astros rotation who will be hit hard by losing Cy Young winner Verlander. Will they compete? Yes. But this is a stacked division and with the Rangers expected to be much better this year, I see a tougher path to October. Division Winner – Mariners – 95-67