Today we will be taking a look at the AL West, a division that is relatively up for grabs in 2020, with the A’s being the favorites, and the Astros and Angels both likely contending, and the Mariners and Rangers currently both moving forward in their rebuilds. As always, the front runner is the player most likely to win the MVP on the team, and the sleeper is the player who many are not discussing, but has a sneaky chance of being in contention. And once again I will be leaving the likelihood next to the player from 1 to 100 (1= no shot, 100= absolute favorite)
Front Runner: Joey Gallo (19/100)
Sleeper: Sam Huff (5/100)
With a lack of established big leaguers, the obvious choice for front runner is power hitting Joey Gallo, who in 2019 was on a path to compete for MVP votes despite his insane strikeout rate. Before an injury ended Gallo’s 2019 season, he was hitting .253/.389/.598 with a .986 OPS, easy top 5 MVP finish season even despite his 114 strikeouts in only 297 plate appearances. 2020 was a different story, as his strikeout numbers were still awful, ranking in the bottom 3rd percentile in the league, he ended with just a .679 OPS and 84 OPS+. 2021 is a strange season for Gallo, because I could see him going either direction, being a top tier player (and if that happens he likely wont be playing for TEX) or having another down season and playing his way out of a team that is expecting youth in the next season or two.
The sleeper was a tough pick between Nick Solak and young catcher Sam Huff, and I decided on Huff, because I believe he has a higher ceiling, while Solak is a great young player, I just think he will never be the MVP type of player, but instead just a good overall player, like a Walmart brand Dustin Pedroia. Huff came up last year as a 22 year old catcher, and impressed significantly, and it is yet to be seen if the team will open up with Jose Trevino or Huff behind the plate. When Huff did play, in the 10 games he did so in 2020, he produced. Ending 2020 with a 1.136 OPS in a small sample size. We will see how much truth is behind that small stint with the team in 2020 about the level of production he will be able to provide at the big league level.
Front Runner: Alex Bregman (90/100)
Sleeper: Kyle Tucker (33/100)
Even with the very likely departure of George Springer, and Carlos Correa and Jose Altuve both having trash 2020 seasons (hehe), the award was always going to be Bregmans to win on this team. The 2019 runner up to Mickey Mantle… I mean Mike Trout has been nothing short of phenomenal since coming into the league in 2016 and there’s no reason to think that will change in a full 2021 for the soon to be 27 year old.
Kyle Tucker is the face of the clean Astros moving forward, being only 23 and putting up outstanding numbers in the last two seasons in limited playing time. In 2020 he got a full work load, after just playing in 22 games in 2019, and ended the 2020 season with a .268/.325/.512 slash with a .837 OPS and leading the league in triples with six. The opening in the outfield from Springers soon departure, means that Tucker will get his full share of AB’s in a season, and I expect him to put up some big numbers.
Front Runner: Kyle Lewis (32/100)
Sleeper: Dylan Moore (3/100)
So the obvious choice is Kyle Lewis, with Kyle Seager entering his later years of his career, the youth of Lewis wins every day of the week. As it should, after his strong rookie season in 2020, posting a .262/.364/.437 line with a .801 OPS and taking home with AL ROTY award, becoming the first Mariner to do so since the great Ichiro (insert last name here). Lewis will now become the face of this rebuilding franchise and hopefully in his tenure on the team, lead them to the playoffs.
Now hang with me for a second, I know what you’re thinking, how can Dylan Moore be a sleeper pick. Well let me ask you something, have you seen the Mariners roster? Who am I going to chose, Philip Ervin? Tim Lopes? Shed Long? Forget about it. Dylan Moore does not have much of a chance barring a chicken being sacrificed and him hitting .380 with 40 big boys, but it doesn’t mean he isnt a good player. Moore last season in his second season in the big leagues posted a great .855 OPS and showed a good deal of pop with a .496 SLG. Entering his age 27 season, he is a nice piece moving forward for the M’s.
Los Angeles Angels
Front Runner: Mike Trout (100/100)
Sleeper: David Fletcher (10/100)
I mean, no disrespect to Anthony Rendon, because that guy is the best third baseman in baseball and one of the top 15 players in the big leagues, but Mike Trout is on a different level. We havent seen this level of production from a player since the times of Cobb, Ruth, Mantle, Aaron, Williams and Bonds. The 3 time MVP winner, will likely add plenty more in his career, entering his age 29 season, and as of right now, if he continues his career averages, will be the greatest player of all time.
David Fletcher is a good baseball player, an MVP? Im not totally sure about that, considering the talent he has on his team alone, but when it comes to the sneaky pick on the team for winning one, its him. Fletcher has gotten better every year he has been in the big leagues, and talk about being impossible to strikeout, as he has only struck out 123 times in 1190 plate appearances.
Front Runner: Matt Chapman (52/100)
Sleeper: Mark Canha (21/100)
The choice for front runner, is the battle of the Matt’s as Chapman and Olson both are the stars on the A’s, but I have more faith in Chapman moving forward. The best fielding third baseman, has collected 2 gold gloves, and won the platinum glove both times he has been in consideration. Along with that, he has a stellar .839 OPS for his career, with two top 10 finishes in MVP voting in 2019 and 2019. Coming back from an injury in 2021, we will see if it effects his output at all.
Mark Canha, one of the prides of University of California Berkeley, put together an All-Star caliber 2019 season, hitting to the tune of a .273/.396/.517 slash with a .913 OPS with an MVP caliber 146 OPS+. He put together an above average season in 2020, posting a .795 OPS and 126 OPS+ and playing in all but one of Oaklands games.