Monday, April 30, 2018

2018 Standings (APBA vs MLB) - April 15th

I finished my 5th series for each team now, while wrapping up the April 12th - April 15th segment of the MLB schedule.

This is how my standings at the end of April 15th compare to the MLB Standings on this date...

  • New York Yankees (12-4 APBA / 7-7 MLB): The Yankees streaked out of the gates in my APBA league, winning their first 8 games, and have played .500 since, while the MLB versions have yet to get rolling at this point. 
  • Boston Red Sox (11-5 APBA / 13-2 MLB): The Boston Red Sox are 1 game out in the APBA version, but have been on a roll since their 1-2 start against Tampa (10-3 since).
  • Tampa Bay Rays (7-8 APBA / 3-12 MLB): The Rays have had a little more luck in my project, but the injuries are starting to take its toll. 
  • Baltimore Orioles (7-10 APBA / 5-11 MLB): After sweeping the Blue Jays, the O's got pushed around by the Red Sox (1-3 series)
  • Toronto Blue Jays (4-12 APBA / 9-5 MLB): This team is streaky, they lost their first four against the Yankees, and another against the White Sox to start 0-5, then win 4 of their next 5 games, only to go on their current 6-game losing streak... Well, at least they have a three-game series at home against the 4-12 Royals coming up.
  • Cleveland Indians (13-3 APBA / 8-6 MLB): The Cleveland Indians look solid in my APBA league, as they prepare for a two-game series in Puerto Rico against the Twinkies. MLB team will only get better.
  • Detroit Tigers (10-6 APBA / 4-9 MLB): Their APBA versions took advantage of their 3 opening opponents in the Pirates, Royals & White Sox & then somehow split their series with Cleveland 2-2. The APBA laws of gravity should return to normal with the Tigers' record going towards the negative end of the spectrum.
  • Minnesota Twins (7-8 APBA / 7-4 MLB): Minnesota, Cleveland & Detroit along with other MLB teams have less games played with their MLB teams due to the long winter in the Midwest. Both versions have 7 wins through April 15th.
  • Chicago White Sox (7-9 APBA / 4-8 MLB): The White Sox find themselves 6 games out, they seem to be back-and-forth in the APBA world, while their MLB version looks lost altogether.
  • Kansas City Royals (4-12 APBA / 3-10 MLB): Things are just baaaaadddd in K.C!
  • Los Angeles Angels (13-4 APBA / 13-3 MLB): Spooky how similar these two versions are, the MLB version won 7 straight, while the APBA version has the longest winning streak yet during this project, a current 9-game winning streak. Shohei Ohtani has matched his MLB counterpart in the pitching department just fine, while in APBA he is lacking behind with the bat.
  • Houston Astros (12-4 APBA / 10-6 MLB): The World Champions trail the red-hot Angels by only a half-game in APBA, after a 7-1 start, they have slowed down to 5-3 during their last 8 games which matches their current MLB winning percentage.
  • Oakland Athletics (7-9 APBA / 6-10 MLB): The Athletics have been fun to play, but with youth comes inexperience... and with inexperience comes losing. 
  • Seattle Mariners (4-10 APBA / 8-5 MLB): The Mariners started off 0-6 in my project, playing .500 ball since, the team just feels flat early on.
  • Texas Rangers (4-13 APBA / 6-11 MLB): The team's pitching is playing much better in the Majors, while in APBA their pen is getting worked hard, this team's lineup also has no punch. I dread every time I have to play a series with the Rangers, because it means that the games will go longer than normal.

  • Atlanta Braves (9-7 APBA / 8-6 MLB): The Braves are a fun team to play with their youngsters in Dansby Swanson, Ozzie Albies & Ronald Acuna... while their bullpen is about match-ups & executing those pitching changes, otherwise they have to hope their starters go long.
  • Philadelphia Phillies (8-7 APBA / 9-5 MLB): Another young team, while competitive on both ends (hitting & pitching).
  • Washington Nationals (8-8 APBA / 7-9 MLB): Injuries have played a factor for both versions, but they seem to be playing out heavier on the MLB version, in the APBA realm this team lost a few other games that could have easily been won. 
  • New York Mets (6-9 APBA / 12-2 MLB): The APBA version is definitely not as good as the MLB version, bullpen is a major concern (lots of C's & W's)... they really could use Anthony Swarzak right now.
  • Miami Marlins (4-11 APBA / 4-11 MLB): Bad... I mean, no pitching is really hurting this team, their lineup has surprised me a little bit in the APBA world, while they played close series with the likes of the Chicago Cubs. 
  • Chicago Cubs (10-6 APBA / 7-7 MLB): This team can rack up tons of runs at any given notice, their rotation is not something to brag about, but their bullpen has the ability to bring them back into games, while closing games out.
  • Cincinnati Reds (8-8 APBA / 2-13 MLB): I am thinking that maybe the Reds should have hired me at this point, their APBA lineup has a lot of fight, which I believe is one of the differences with the record... their MLB bullpen is great (at least for now, until they get over-worked), too bad they don't have a bridge between the rotation & the pen to make it all work out for them.
  • Milwaukee Brewers (8-8 APBA / 8-8 MLB): The injuries certainly haven't helped, which is a reason that this preseason darling is happy to be at .500 at least.
  • St. Louis Cardinals (7-9 APBA / 9-7 MLB): This division is going to beat up on one-another, as evidence of these top four teams all separated by 3 games.
  • Pittsburgh Pirates (4-11 APBA / 11-4 MLB): Playing the polar-opposite of its MLB counterparts. Opened the season by getting swept by the Tigers, getting no-hit in one of those games, while scoring a total of 3 runs... while losing their recent series 2-1 to the Marlins of all teams. 

  • Colorado Rockies (11-6 APBA / 9-8 MLB): The Colorado Rockies' lineup has always been a fun one to roll with, but it is their starting pitching that is playing above-par, with their revamped bullpen that is executing. 
  • San Francisco Giants (10-6 APBA / 6-9 MLB): I started my project on March 12th, so Madison Bumgarner and Jeff Samardzija got some starts in, before their MLB-likes got hurt (hence the 10 wins); Austin Jackson, Andrew McCutchen & Evan Longoria are also playing a lot better in the APBA world vs MLB world.
  • Arizona Diamondbacks (9-6 APBA / 11-4 MLB): Zack Greinke has been truly amazing in the MLB Projections project, while Paul Goldschmidt has been quiet.
  • Los Angeles Dodgers (8-7 APBA / 5-9 MLB): The Dodgers have dealt with tons of injuries, including one of their leaders in Justin Turner.
  • San Diego Padres (5-12 APBA / 7-10 MLB): Same Padres... Same problems.

Friday, April 27, 2018

1994 Braves (61-27) Build on Huge Lead

The Atlanta Braves (61-27) have been on cruise control, and after suffering a couple speed bumps in May & June, the Braves have now won 16 of their last 18 games.

The Braves' upper management contemplated trading David Justice prior to the season and are certainly glad they had a change of heart. Justice is having a MVP season, batting .310 with 26 HR & 88 RBI with a 1.020 OPS through 86 games -- while on pace for 48 HR & 162 RBI this season.

Fred McGriff has always been a talented player, but he has been gold for the Braves. Last season, he batted .344 with 48 HR, while leading the National League with 224 hits & 142 RBI... this season, he is batting .308 with 28 HR & 73 RBI with a .992 OPS. His 6-year, $25.2 million deal ($4.2 m/per year) is proving to be a good one, he does have the option to opt out after the 1996 season.

Both Steve Avery and Roberto Hernandez have returned from the disabled list, as Avery continued where he left off, while Hernandez unfortunately lost his closing position to a red-hot Mark Wohlers; Hernandez continues to do solid relief as the 8th Inning setup man in the meantime.

Ryan Klesko (.307, 19 HR & 67 RBI) has arrived ahead of schedule, stealing time from Ron Gant, who started the season on the disabled list; Gant struggled with righties early that he now only starts against southpaws.

The Braves acquired starting pitcher Alan Benes from the Seattle Mariners to help fill in for the injured Avery & now serves as the 5th starter in the rotation; Benes is a combined 8-3 with a 4.67 ERA between the two ballclubs,

One of the other big Braves moves came prior to the season when they signed their leadoff man/CF- Tony Phillips to a 3 yr / $7.8 million deal ($2.6 m/per year). Phillips is currently batting .298 with 16 HR & 47 RBI, while he has 87 runs to go along with his .939 OPS.

The Braves currently have a 16-game lead over the 2nd Place Houston Astros, and are looking to avenge their previous playoff woes.

Sunday, April 22, 2018

2018 MLB Projection Season Highlights (Mar 30th - April 4th)

I haven't posted in awhile, but been meaning to post the 2018 MLB Projection Season highlights so far, so here they are in chronological order by date...

By the way, I play with real-life injuries & trade acquisitions while I play with custom-made cards for players like Shohei Ohtani (Angels), Gleyber Torres (Yankees) & many others...

March 29th (Opening Day)
  • The Philadelphia Phillies launch 4 solo home runs in a 4-0 victory over Atlanta; Two of those HR were by Maikel Franco.
  • The Detroit Tigers' Mikie Mahtook hits 2 HR (including a lead-off HR in the 1st) on opening day (both off of Ivan Nova) against the Pirates, as Tigers win 6-1. 
  • The Milwaukee Brewers launch 13 runs & 17 hits against the San Diego Padres, including an excellent 4-for-5 performance by right fielder Domingo Santana with 2 HR, 2B & 7 RBI. Ryan Braun, playing first base, went 2-for-5, HR, 2B & 4 RBI.
  • The New York Yankees score 5 runs in the first, including a solo HR by Aaron Judge & a three-run HR by Greg Bird; Yankees win 6-2 on 10 K's by Luis Severino.
  • Welington Castillo in his new White Sox digs, hits 2 home runs against Kansas City, leading the White Sox to a 9-6 victory.
  • The Cardinals' Carlos E. Martinez pitches five-hit complete-game shutout with 9 K's against the New York Mets, winning 5-0.
  • The Miami Marlins actually came out to play against the Cubbies, but lose a close one, 7-5. Lewis Brinson goes 2-for-2, HR, 2 RBI & 2 walks while Starlin Castro goes 3-for-5, HR, 3B & 2 RBI in their Marlins debuts.
  • Justin Turner joins a handful of other MLB players with 2 HR on opening day, helping the Dodgers defeat the Giants, 8-4. 
March 30th
  • Rafael Devers leads the charge with a 2-for-4 day that including a two-run HR, while Christian Vazquez went 3-for-4, solo HR & 2 runs, along with solo HR by Mookie Betts. Red Sox win against the Rays (7-2) on 8 K's by David Price (2 ER / 6.1 IP).
  • Shohei Ohtani allows only 3 hits & one earned run in 7.2 innings, defeating Oakland, 4-2 (Mike Trout - 2-Run HR). 
  • Bryce Harper hits two 2-Run home runs, as Washington defeats Cincinnati, 8-7; The Nationals' pen almost blown the game, allowing 4 runs (including a three-run pinch-hit HR by Patrick Kivelahan); Stephen Strasburg (WAS): 7 IP, 4 H , 2 ER, 8 K & BB.
  • Two 2-Run HRs by Todd Frazier of the Mets, as Mets win 5-1 over St. Louis.
  • The Miami Marlins blow a 6-2 lead (after 4 innings), as the Chicago Cubs rake in 7 runs during the 6th-8th innings, including 2 HRs by Kyle Schwarber & a three-run HR by Anthony Rizzo during the 7th.
  • Brandon Crawford brings his HR total to 3 (through 2 games) with 2 HR against the Los Angeles Dodgers, as the Giants win 7-1.
  • The Colorado Rockies' Kyle Freeland pitches a two-hit shutout with 7 K & 3 walks against the Arizona Diamondbacks; Charlie Blackmon: 2-Run HR. 
March 31st
  • Down 3-1 against the Minnesota Twins, the Baltimore Orioles win with Chris Davis' walk-off three-run HR off of Fernando Rodney
    • Tampa Bay wins big, 12-5 over Boston, led by Carlos Gomez (3-for-3, HR, 2B, HBP, SF, 2 runs & 3 RBI) and Mallex Smith (3-for-3, 3B, RBI, 2 runs & 2 stolen bases). 
    • Both Kyle Hendricks (Chicago Cubs) and Adam Conley (Miami Marlins) each pitches 9 innings, while collecting 10 strikeouts -- both left with 0-0 tie through 9 innings; Jason Heyward's two-run single during the top of the 15th (against the Marlins' Jarlin Garcia) leads Cubs to 2-0 victory.
    • Newly-acquired Wade Davis (Colorado Rockies) blows save & loses game as Arizona's David Peralta hits a walk-off two-run HR. 
    • The Los Angeles Dodgers' Alex Wood pitches a four-hit shutout (including 5 K & 2 walks) against the San Francisco Giants. The Dodgers' three runs came off Yasiel Puig's three-run HR in the 1st Inning.

    April 1st
    • The Detroit Tigers' Francisco Liriano pitches a no-hitter against the Pittsburgh Pirates, he struck out 6, while walking 4 batters; The Tigers' Mikie Mahtook hits his 3rd HR of the season (He only had 12 HR in 348 at-bats during 2017), while Tigers complete 3-game sweep of Pittsburgh.
    • The New York Yankees' CC Sabathia was brilliant with two-hit, 1 ER, complete-game victory (9-1) over the Toronto Blue Jays, completing a 4-game sweep. Didi Gregorius hits his 2nd HR of season, following a 3-for-5, HR, 2 2B & 3-RBI performance the day before, while Aaron Judge hits his 3rd HR of the season. The Yankees hit 12 HR that series.
    • The Angels' Shohei Ohtani stole 3rd base on Jonathan Lucroy of Oakland.
    • Michael Conforto (Mets) goes 3-for-3, HR, 2B, single with a BB & 3 RBI, leading the Mets to a 6-4 victory over the Cardinals.
    • The Chicago Cubs complete a hard-fought 4-game sweep of the Miami Marlins, every game was decided by 3-runs or less.

    April 2nd 
    • The Yankees' Aaron Judge hits his 4th HR of the season, while Aaron Hicks adds a two-run HR of his own, to help the Yankees win 4-2 over Tampa Bay. 
    • New San Francisco Giants veteran additions - Andrew McCutchen (2-Run HR) and Evan Longoria (3-for-4, HR, RBI) lead the Giants to a 5-1 victory over the Seattle Mariners; The Giants' Ty Blach (Grade D-RZ) pitched 6 strong innings, while allowing only 2 hits & one earned run, while striking out 5 M's. 
    • With the Boston Red Sox having numerous starting pitchers hurt, I had to turn to Brandon Workman (who has started in the past for Boston) to start against the Marlins; Workman pitches 6 innings of two-hit ball, while allowing no runs or walks, with 8 K's... winning 1-0 on a 8th Inning RBI double by Rafael Devers. The Marlins lose yet another close game, as they fall to 0-5 (all games decided by 3 runs or less).
    • Charlie Morton of the Houston Astros pitches 6 strong innings, allowing only two hits & one earned run, while striking out 7 batters. Carlos Correa's solo HR in the 3rd inning was the difference maker.
    • The Chicago Cubs outpaced the Cincinnati Reds in their series opener, 9-5. Ian Happ's 6th Inning Grand Slam capped off a 6-run inning, while the Reds' Scooter Gennett goes 4-for-5, with 3 home runs, 2B, 4 runs & 4 RBI for the day. 
    • The Washington Nationals (improving to 3-1) win in extras, due to Micheal A Taylor's two-run 11th inning homer off of Atlanta's Luke Jackson; Ryan Zimmerman went 3-for-5, HR, 2B & 3 RBI for the night.
    • The St. Louis Cardinals' Luke Weaver pitches the Cardinals' 2nd shutout already in this young season, with 4-hit performance that included 10 K & 3 BB, defeating Milwaukee 3-0.
    • The Chicago White Sox defeat the Toronto Blue Jays, 8-1 on timely hitting and a strong pitching performance from Miguel Gonzalez (8.1 IP, 4 H, ER, 7 K & 2 BB). Jose Abreu (3-for-4, HR, 2B & 3 RBI), Welington Castillo (3rd HR of the season), Tim Anderson (2-Run HR) & Nicky Delmonico (solo HR) all lead the charge at the plate -- handing the Blue Jays their 5th straight loss to start the season. 
    • The Cleveland Indians (4-0) defeat the Los Angeles Angels, 10-3. Micheal Brantley's 3-Run HR (in the 5th) & Jose Ramirez's 3-hit, 3-RBI day were the huge highlights for the tribe, while the Angels' Ian Kinsler fell a triple short of the cycle, while collecting 3 of the 4 Angels' hits.
    • The Colorado Rockies win (8-6) on back-to-back solo home runs during the top of the 10th, by catcher Chris Iannetta & pinch-hitter Gerardo ParraWade Davis collects his 1st save; 25 total hits by both teams combined. 

    April 3rd
    • The combination of Giancarlo Stanton (5th Inning Grand Slam) & Aaron Judge's 2 home runs was too much for the Rays to overcome, as the Yankees win 10-5. Judge now has 6 HR for the season in as many games, while Aaron Hicks and Adam Lind each added solo shots. 
    • The San Francisco Giants' Austin Slater (after good pinch-hitting performances) gets his first start of the season in right & takes full advantage of it -- going 4-for-5, with 2 HR, 2 doubles, 2 RBI, while scoring 4 runs. Teammate Joe Panik also collects 4 hits, to go along with 3 RBI; Giants defeat Seattle, 11-5 (on 17 hits).
    • Boston's Chris Sale pitches a spectacular one-hit shutout that included 15 strikeouts, while the Red Sox defeat the Marlins, 4-0 with help from Andrew Benintendi (2 doubles, 2 RBI) & Sandy Leon (solo HR).
    • The Toronto Blue Jays finally win in a big way, trailing 5-1 after 6 innings, the Jays rally back with 5 runs during the final three innings, capped off with Russell Martin's walk-off two-run homer in the Rogers Centre off of the Chicago White Sox' reliever Juan Minaya; Martin had 2 home runs for the day (which included 4 hits & 3 runs).
    • Justin Verlander (Houston) improves to 2-0 with 7 strong innings, allowing 3 hits, 1 run & 1 walk while striking out 10 Orioles; Houston improves to 5-1. 
    • The Chicago Cubs (5-1) lose their 1st game, losing 6-5 to the Reds. Scott Schebler of Cincy, goes 3-for-4 with HR, 2 doubles & 3 RBI. Although the Cubs lost, they did make a highlight of their own by hitting back-to-back-to-back home runs in the 2nd inning with Ian Happ, pitcher Jon Lester & Ben Zobrist
    • Paul Goldschmidt (Arizona) goes 3-for-4, with 2 HR & 6 RBI for the day, as the D-Backs edge the Dodgers, 8-5.
    • Youngster Amed Rosario went 4-for-5, HR, 3B, RBI & 2 runs in a losing cause for the New York Mets, as they lose to Philadelphia, 7-5. 
    • Jason Kipnis' 2nd HR of the day proves to be a big one, a 2-run go-ahead homer in the 10th (off of Cam Bedrosian), to give the Indians a 4-3 win; The Angels' Luis Valbuena hits solo HR during bottom of 10th with 2 outs, but the team could not tie it up. 
    • The Oakland Athletics' Kendall Graveman pitches a one-hit, 12 K shutout performance against the Texas Rangers (no-no was broken up during top of the 6th, by Robinson Chirinos with no outs); Jed Lowrie (2 doubles, 4 RBI) & Dustin Fowler (2-Run HR) helped Graveman to victory.

    April 4th
    • The Arizona Diamondbacks' Zack Greinke made a strong bid for 20 strikeouts in a game... but fell short with 17, pitching a two-hit shutout, allowing only 2 walks. Greinke had 10 K's after 5 innings & 16 K's after 7 innings at certain points. The D-Backs' Ketel Marte (0-for-17) broke out of his slump by going 4-for-5, with a HR, double & 6 RBI; Arizona wins 12-0 over the Dodgers. 
    • Mike Trout's two home runs (3 RBI) was literally the difference in a 3-0 victory of the Cleveland Indians, while Shohei Ohtani again shines with two-hit, shutout with 5 strikouts; Corey Kluber was no slouch in a losing cause, allowing only 2 hits, 1 run (but 3 walks) in 7.1 innings, that included 10 strikeouts.
    • The Tigers' Mikie Mahtook continues to surprise while hitting his 4th HR of the season (6 games in), while John Hicks has a huge day at DH, going 3-for-4, HR, 2B & 2 RBI, as the Tigers win 7-1, improving to 5-1 for the season. 
    • Michael Conforto of the New York Mets goes 3-for-4 with 2 HR, a double & 3 RBI, while Yoenis Cespedes (2-for-3, 3B, 3 RBI, BB) also provided help as the Mets defeat Philadelphia, 7-1; The Mets' starting pitcher Noah Syndergaard improved to 1-1, allowing only 4 hits & one run in 7.1 innings of work, striking out 11 batters. 
    • The Toronto Blue Jays win their series against the White Sox, 2-1, as the Jays improve to 2-5 thanks to Curtis Granderson's 6th inning Grand Slam which capped off a 6-run inning.
    • The Colorado Rockies win on a go-ahead RBI single during the top of the 10th by Nolan Arenado, defeating San Diego, 4-3; Charlie Blackmon goes 3-for-5, HR, two doubles, RBI & 3 runs. 

    Thursday, April 12, 2018

    Been Busy of Late

    Hey guys, sorry that it has been awhile. Lots of things happening in my personal life, the wife and I have both switched jobs. With the time that I have had to myself, I have been doing my 2018 MLB Projections League.

    2018 MLB Projections League

    Like I was saying, I have been doing my 2018 MLB Projections League, which is using the 2017 APBA Baseball Card Season, merged with custom-made cards on 2018 projections.... not all players have projection cards. I have made cards for prospects and rookies such as the Angels' phenom Shohei Ohtani, while making cards for guys who are projected to do significantly better or worse this season as well.

    I have made about 160 projection cards so far.

    The season itself is in series #4 with everyone, around the dates of April 9th-12th, basically Major League Baseball has caught up with me. I update players & transfer players according to real-life transactions, while I also keep players out do to real-life injuries. In-game board-game injuries, I do what's on the playing boards (not Injury index), while adding those games to the J-0, J-1, J-2, J-3 or J-4 ratings...

    For example, Runner on First and Second - Play result #38 vs Fielding 2, runner injured sliding into second -- Out for 3 games, and then add that to (let's say) J-3 rating and the player is injured for 6 games.

    I will update more on the actual season, all on the powerhouses, the early disappointments, and early surprises, and not-so-surprises. There are some guys like Mikie Mahtook and Brandon Crawford, who seem to be hitting home runs at a greater rate than their real-life HR rates, while there is some guys who are suffering huge slumps.

    More to come on the Projections league....

    1981 Detroit Tigers Replay

    On another project, I was playing the 1981 Detroit Tigers, strike will be included in which we will do the playoffs in the same way that the 1981 MLB Season was conducted. The Tigers won the A.L. East first-half season, I am on my opposite computer, so I can't dig up the exact record right now. I do know that Steve Kemp is an on-base machine for Detroit, while Lance Parrish has already exceeded his real-life 1981 HR totals.... plus Dan Petry has 10+ wins already for me, and at his current rate is making a bid for 20 wins in a strike-shortened season.

    I was also playing the Cincinnati Reds in the other league, I am only half-way through April with them & definitely trailing the Tigers' pace of play. The Reds are pretty bland at best, I picked them because they were similar to the Tigers' 1981 situation, where both teams had good competitive records, while falling short on both halves' division races. I am on the fence if I actually want to continue even playing them, I wanted to see if I can get different results on the N.L side, just like with the Tigers, the Reds' opponents records can change and create new races all together. The results would be the same with games not depending Tigers or Reds, but my Tigers actually took it to the Yankees, which created a better chance for the Tigers, but the opposite divisions' races can be effected as well, for example if the Royals beat up on my Tigers more than they actually did in real-life, it could effect their division races... so if K.C. is up +4 wins on us, that's 4 more wins than their real-life outcome.

    Tournament III Results

    The results are on my other computer, which is currently having battery issues, I do know that the 1909 Detroit Tigers won the entire thing, I can't recall off the top of my head against who... but I will have more information on those results when the time comes.

    I do know that the 1909 Detroit Tigers join the 1927 New York Yankees & 1979 Pittsburgh Pirates as champions of my prior 64-game tournaments.

    I will have more on other projects in good time.

    Sunday, April 1, 2018

    My Quick A.L. West Preview

    Star Struck: Astros' young stars orbit around the championship trophy.

    A.L. WEST

    The 'R' word is one that gets tossed around every year when a team wins the world series, so true to form, it's the Houston Astros' turn to throw around the word... 'repeat'. We used it for the Kansas City Royals after 2015, the Chicago Cubs after 2016, and now the Astros.

    The difference is, the Astros may actually be able to pull off what's become a rare feat these days. Sure, no American League team has repeated since the 1998-2000 Yankees days, before that it was the 1992-1993 Blue Jays, and before that it was the 1972-1974 Athletics... now add in the extra wild card, extra games, and the chances of one team repeating seems like a tough climb.

    But this is no ordinary team, last year's 2017 Astros may actually one of the best single-season teams to have ever taken the field. I'm finding this out more and more with the APBA cards alone, before even trying to dig out facts to support my opinion. Every single player played a pivotal role in their quest for their first championship, now most (almost all) of them return in 2018.

    The team will have to go through the likely contenders in Cleveland and the New York, or should I say they will have to go through Houston? The Astros acquired Gerrit Cole to help solidify their rotation, while adding relief help in Jose Smith and Hector Rondon.

    Many of these young studs (Alex Bregman, Carlos Correa & George Springer) may actually have bigger years coming in 2018, plus add a full-season to my A.L. Cy Young favorite in Justin Verlander to the equation and you got yourself one hell of an encore.

    Back in February, Chris "The Mad Dog" Russo made remarks that the Yankees were the team to beat, Verlander quickly tweeted a response to the Mad Dog with "I can think of a reason", which sparked a little back-and-forth, check the video out below it's enjoyable....

    Below is MLB Network's reaction to the addition of Cole to the rotation.

    So it's safe to say that I sit very comfortable picking Astros to win the West.

    The Los Angeles Angels are most likely the 2nd place team in this division, are they a playoff a team is a tough question. It's easy to assume that they will definitely be better than last season, when you improve your roster with the likes of Ian Kinsler, Zack Cozart and Japanese import Shohei Ohtani... but are they really better? Most successful ballclubs have dependable pitching, the Angels don't have dependable pitching... you can't expect any of their pitchers to roll out of bed these days, without injuring their arm. If the majority of these pitchers were to stay healthy than we can start talking, that's why I think Minnesota will win the second A.L. wildcard slot, I think they have a better shot at improving this season. 

    The Angels are not dependable, simple as that... which is a damn shame considering they have the best player in all of Baseball in Mike Trout

    The Seattle Mariners will be swimming around somewhere in the middle of this division, all depending if they can maintain healthy arms as well. It's a shame that James Paxton's arm is not willing to give him a full season, as he has pitched 422 innings over a five-year stretch... good when he's out there (3.28 career ERA), but that's the catch... On top of that King Felix Hernandez has hit the wall, coming off his career worst. If Mariners' rotation can find a way to stay healthy, this they can then hand over a lead to a very interesting bullpen that has many different skill types, which can be a manager's dream; Plenty of good arms, but hopefully they don't get overworked due to bad starting pitching. 

    If the Mariners are in the thick of the post-season race come later July, don't be surprised to see GM Jerry Dipoto to wheel-and-deal for some starting pitching.

    The Oakland Athletics may be on the verge of surprising once-again, it usually turns on like a light-switch, no one saw the 2012 Athletics happening until it was actually happening. Over the past couple seasons, Billy Beane has been working at it again... tell me if you have heard this one before, a young rotation (led by Sean Manaea & Kendall Graveman) with strong bullpen arms led by a handful of prospects (Matt Chapman, Matt Olson & Dustin Fowler), led by a couple veteran mainstays (Jed Lowrie & Matt Joyce). They need some more seasoning, but don't be completely shocked if they are sniffing the wild card picture come August.... chances are they are still a year-or-two away.

    Khris Davis, one of the leaders on Oakland's roster.

    The Texas Rangers will definitely be in last place this season, they have players like Nomar Mazara, Willie Calhoun & Joey Gallo on the rise... but their rotation is anchored by Cole Hamels (past his peak), leading a rag tag of once-talented arms or recently-healed arms in Doug Fister, Matt Moore, Mike Minor & Bartolo Colon.

    The team's farm system has no immediate help, while the Rangers appear to be in transition. They may be preparing for the 2019 Free Agency market.

    A.L. WEST
    1. Houston
    2. Los Angeles (A)
    3. Seattle
    4. Oakland
    5. Texas

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