Who could challenge the Astros in the AL West? | The Bandwagon

Yahoo Sports MLB writers Hannah Keyser and Zach Crizer discuss whether Houston can control the division race once again in 2023 and which teams are actually viable challengers to the squad that’s won five of the last six AL West crowns. Hear the full conversation on Yahoo Sports' new baseball podcast, "The Bandwagon". Subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher or wherever you listen.

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HANNAH KEYSER: My bandwagon for something new this year is an actual race in the AL West. I'm not talking about the race for winning the division, which feels inevitably, predictably, constantly, perpetually pretty locked up by the Astros, who finished 16 games ahead of the second-place team last year. The Angels, Mariners, and Rangers-- I know, hold on, hold your thoughts about the Rangers-- that the Angels, Mariners, and Rangers all have a chance to make the postseason.

They are not all going to make the postseason. The math does not work out, even with the expanded postseason, and that that race will be genuinely interesting because we're talking about four teams in a division-- sorry, Oakland-- that all think they're going to the postseason. And I enjoy when teams think they're going to the postseason, and they simply cannot, based on math, and only some of them can. That is what sports are supposed to be generally.

But tanking has kind of ruined it and just like really good projection systems so, yeah, the Astros are going to be good. They're going to be slightly less good, though, because they're going to be missing Jose Altuve for a little while and also because they lost Justin Verlander, the Cy Young Award winner, and we don't put nearly enough stake in that as a departure this year. They did, however, add Jose Abreu, the slugging first baseman, so that'll be good. But I think that I-- OK, tell me why you don't think the Rangers are going to be good, and then we can discuss why they're all going to be good.

ZACH CRIZER: What? No, no, no, I want to say I like this bandwagon because I think there will be-- I don't think it's out of the realm of possibility that it will be a race with the Astros. So could the Mariners or Angels jump up and get within three games of them and really make it a series at the end? I think, yes. I think it will be a very interesting race with those three teams.


I think the Rangers are kind of delusional. I don't think they have the hitters to be a real contender. And maybe they make a bunch of trades in season or maybe a bunch of guys take unexpected steps forward. But between Nathaniel Lowe, Adolis Garcia, Corey Seager, Marcus Semien, most of them were pretty good last year, and the team was terrible.

You are really relying on just trying to throw a needle through a keyhole type of scenario here for the Rangers to be a legitimate contender. Maybe they do it, and I'm totally wrong. But I think the main race we are talking about is the Angels, the Mariners, trying to catch the Astros.