Catcher (ranked in pairs)
- S. Murphy/TBD, OAK
- Heim/Trevino, TEX
- Castro/Maldanado, HOU
- Stassi/Thaiss, LAA
- T. Murphy/Raleigh, SEA
The catching position is one of the more well-rounded and even groups in the AL West. It’s pretty competitive, but Murphy is good enough to carry whoever else Oakland gets, to the first place spot.
The tandem in Texas gets a narrow edge over the Houston pairing thanks in part to their stellar defense but it’s as close as you’re going to get. Stassi may be the second-best catcher in the division but this is where the pairing comes in.
Thaiss is still a relative unknown at catcher and though Stassi is good, he’s not good enough to bring them up the way Murphy does. Speaking of Murphy…Tom in Seattle is a fine player, equally in the mix with the ones above but with the plan to utilize Raleigh as the second catcher brings the pair down. Raleigh has potential but that’s about it.
Starting Pitching Rotation
- Verlander, McCullers, Valdez, Urquidy, Garcia – HOU
- Bassit, Montas, Manaea, Irvin, Kaprielian- OAK
- Ohtani, Syndegaard, Lorenzen, Suarez, Sandoval -LAA
- Ray, Flexen, Gonzalez, Dunn, Gilbert – SEA
- Gray, Dunning, Hearn, Howard, Alexy – TEX
This is the group that could see the most change before the year starts. Or even as the year goes on. Houston has a rotation that was good enough to get them to the World Series and they’re adding Verlander back. Exactly what kind of pitcher Verlander will be remains to be seen and how Garcia follows up his rookie year will determine a lot but it’s stout. For comparison, Odorizzi could be the Rangers’ second or third best starter and he doesn’t even crack their top five here.
Oakland fans could reasonably argue their team belongs in the top spot (they don’t though) but they’re looking at trading multiple pieces and could be at the bottom when the season starts if that does happen. Anaheim added Noah Syndergaard for a year and his ceiling is high but questionable after extensive time missed following Tommy John surgery. They also added an intriguing piece Lorenzen but what he offers as a starter remains a question. Sandoval and Suarez round out a pretty good rotation. Oh and there’s that Ohtani guy.
Seattle, meanwhile, added Cy Young award winner Robbie Ray, but he alone is not enough to compete with the well-rounded rotations listed above yet. They do have a couple of intriguing young pieces to keep an eye on though.
Then there is Texas. Gray was a good get but not exactly a 1-2 guy. Dunning and Hearn are still growing. Howard has A LOT to improve on, but was a highly (ranked AHEAD of Josh Jung) thought of prospect. He also has options if the Rangers feel he’s not ready. Alexy gets the nod for the 5th spot after starting and finishing his short stint strong.
Houston and Anaheim are the only teams I expect to have those rotations going into the year but for now, that’s what’s there. Oakland could find themselves at the bottom if they manage to sell off more pieces. Texas will look to add another pitcher (Kershaw) but even that may not move them up much. Seattle probably won’t add another free agent pitcher, but could look at their prospects.