Updated: Jan 27
This series of blogs is 100% opinion based on who I see as the best players in the AL Westl and who I can see having a legit shot at the HOF. The "most exciting" are the players who are young but already have shown to have the highest upside. The "on their way" are the players getting closer and closer to the HoF with every year they play. The "honorable mentions" are players who will be on the ballot but will not make it into the HoF. The "future HoF" are the players that I have no doubt will make it into Cooperstown. Please bear with me on the AL West; it is completely LOADED with talent and future HoF.
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Ramon Laureano OF Athletics- Flash and splash is what makes the 26yo OF so exciting. In 1873.2INN in the OF, he owns a .986FLD%, 8E, and 13DRS. He posted a 1.5WAR with a .213/.338/.366 slash in 2020, which brings him to a 7.4WAR, .270/.343/.475. The youngster is on his way!
Kyle Lewis OF Mariners- The Rookie of the Year himself single-handedly gave the Mariners fanbase hope for the future. The 25yo posted a 1.7WAR with 11HR and a slash of .262/.364/.437. K-Lew is on his way to being a Mariner great, and it's only the beginning.
Evan White 1B Mariners- The Rookie 1B showed flashes of why the Mariners gave him that significant extension to him before the season. White came in to win the Gold Glove at 1B for the Mariners. He hit 8HR with a .176/.252/.346 on the season. White will look to continue to play elite defense and turn it around with the bat.
JP Crawford SS Mariners- Crawford is only getting started and showed why the Mariners traded for him. Crawford won the Gold Glove award in 2020 while posting a 1.6WAR with a .255/.336/.338 slash line in 2020. The 25yo SS is only getting better and will soon be among the AL-best.
Kyle Tucker OF Astros- The 23yo OF played in his first "full" season of his career and posted a 1.9WAR, 9HR, 42RBI, .268/.325/.512. The Astros need Tucker now more than ever, with Springer, Brantley, and Reddick all departed to free agency. Tucker will quickly be thrown into a vital role with the Astros in 2021, and he looks ready to take on the spotlight.
Yordan Alvarez DH Astros- Alvarez only took 8AB in 2020 but so far in his young career, he owns a 3.8WAR with a .312/.410/.654 in his career and won the 2019 ROY. The 23yo DH/OF will look to rebound in 2021 and establish himself and Tucker as the Astro's next round of talent to keep the team competitive.
Shohei Ohtani DH/P Angels- The 26yo Ohtani has shown that he is well adjusted to the MLB game as a hitter as he owns a 6.1WAR with a slash of .269/.340/.503 over 967PA. We haven't seen much of the Pitcher that Ohtani can be as he didn't pitch in 2019 and only threw 1.2IP in 2020. In 2018 as a pitcher, he threw 51.2IP with a 3.31ERA/3.57FIP and 63K. When Ohtani can show us his full repertoire, he will quickly jump into a conversation of his own.
Joey Gallo OF Rangers- If Gallo can stop striking out so dang much, I would consider him on a path to greatness. But in his 1785PA in his career, he has 672K-250BB. Gallo has light-tower power and plays Gold Glove-caliber defense in the outfield as we saw in 2020. Gallo owns a .208/.327/.499 slash line for his career, and if he wants to be one of the great hitters, he needs to change his approach.
Isiah Kiner-Falefa 3B Rangers- The 25yo 3B won his first career Gold Glove in 2020 and is set to take over SS from Elvis Andrus in 2020. In 2020 he posted a 2.8WAR with a .280/.329/.370 slash line over 228PA. Falefa is on his way to greatness.
On Their Way:
Anthony Rendon 3B Angels- Rendon is simply a top 3 3B in the MLB as he owns a 31.2WAR, 145HR, 577RBI with a .290/.372/.490. Rendon is only 2nd to Arenado in terms of defense as he holds a .971FLD% with 56DRS over 8416.1INN. I don't know how Rendon is only a 1x All-Star and 2x Silver Slugger and the 2019 World Series champ. With six more years as an Angel with Mike Trout. It's only a matter of time before he and Trout win many World Series.
Marcus Semien SS Athletics- Semien has been a great piece to the Oakland A's since 2015 and has earned every bit of respect due to him. The 30yo SS owns a 22.3WAR with a .254/.322/.425 slash over 3620PA. A 3rd place MVP finish in 2019 was followed up by a down year in 2020 where he posted a 0.5WAR with a .223/.305/.374 slash. Semien may not be an Oakland A anymore, but man, he is on track to be great.
Matt Chapman 3B Athletics- Since 2017, Chapman is easily one of the best 3B in all of baseball. He owns 2 Gold Gloves, 2 Platinum Gloves and is a 1x All-Star. The 27yo 3B has had a great career so far as he holds a 21.0WAR, .255/.336/.503 slash. Chapman will be great for a long time, and with three more years in Oakland, he will be able to cement his legacy.
Alex Bregman 3B Astros- At 27yo 3B is among the best 3B in the MLB. His career has been nothing short of great. He owns a 23.4WAR, 105HR, .283/.381/.521 slash line over 2418PA. Bregman has been an above-average defender at the hot corner and other positions; he owns a career .966FLD% with 15DRS. Bregman is only going into his 6th year and has another three years with the Astros and will join Tucker and Alvarez with the task of keeping the Astros in contention.
Carlos Correa SS Astros- Correa is due to be part of the mega ShortStop class of 2021. The 2012 #1 overall pick has lived up to every expectation set for him. He owns a 26.3WAR, 107HR with a .276/.353/.480 slash. He has appeared in 1 All-Star game, won the RoY, and was part of the 2017 World Series Winning Astros*.
Jose Altuve 2B Astros- The 29yo Altuve has shown out already in the MLB carrying a career .311/.361/.458 slash line and a 36.5WAR. He hasn't ever been a significant power threat except for 2019, but he has been super consistent. He has 1MVP, 1 WS Championship, 6x All-Star, 5x Silver Slugger, 1 Gold Glove, 1 Hank Aaron Award; all earned turning before 30. With at least I would say 4-7 more years of peak performance. Altuve can be among the best 2B ever to have played. However, Altuve's name will forever be associated with the sign-stealing scandal, which will significantly hurt this chance.
Justin Upton OF LA Angels- Upton, the #1 overall pick in 2005, has been more than enough in his career. Over his 14year career, 33yo Upton owns a 33.9WAR, 307HR, 959RBI with a .265/.345/.474 slash line. He is a 4x All-Star and 3x Silver Slugger winner. Upton has never been an elite OF, but he will be in tough competition when he hangs them up in a few years.
Mike Trout OF Angels- DUH, of course. Trout could go down as one of the GOAT. AT 29, he has 74.6WAR, 302HR, 798RBI, 201SB, .305/.418/.582 slash. He is already a 3x MVP, ROY, 8x All-Star, 8x Silver Slugger, Wilson Defensive Player of the Year, 2x Hank Aaron Award winner, 2x All-Star MVP. He isn't even close to done as he signed a 12year deal, which will have him under contract until he is 39, and I expect him to be towards the top of many categories and see a lot more awards by the time he hangs up the spikes.
Albert Pujols DH/1B Angels- 3x MVP, ROY, 10x All-Star, 2x WS Champ, 2x Gold Glove, 6x Silver Slugger, 1 Batting Title, 3x ML PoY, and an NLCS MVP, 662HR, 2100RBI, 100.7WAR, .299/.377/.546. With 1331 career BB as well. Pujols is one of the best hitters to have ever played baseball. He has done it in the AL and NL and just been a force for 20 years. Pujols is entering his age 41 seasons and the final year of his 10yr deal; it will be one heck of a year for Pujols to go out on.
Justus Sheffield SP Mariners- The 24yo LHP put together one heck of a season in 2020 and show many a Mariner fan why Paxton was traded for him. In 2020 he posted a 0.8WAR, 3.58ERA/3.17FIP and 48K-20BB over 55.1IP. The young lefty is groomed to take over the #2 spot behind Marco Gonzalez in the Mariners rotation for years to come.
Roberto Osuna RP Astros- Osuna is still so young at only 25yo he has nothing but time to cement his name as one of the best relievers in the MLB. In his career, he owns an 8.8WAR, 2.74ERA/2.76FIP, 348K-55BB over 315IP. Osuna is well on his way to greatness.
Cristian Javier SP Astros- If Javier wasn't a saving grace for the Astros rotation in 2020, I don't know who else was. With a 3rd place finish in the Rookie of the Year voting. He posted a 1.3WAR, 5-2 record, 3.48ERA/4.94FIP, 54K-18BB over 54.1IP. The 23yo looked ready to take over the top of the rotation from JB and Grienke.
Dane Dunning SP Rangers- The 25yo Dunning finished his first go around in the MLB in 2020. He posted a 0.1WAR, 2-0 record, 34IP with a 3.97ERA/3.99FIP with 35K-13BB. After the Rangers' trade, Dunning is set up to be atop of the rotation in 2020.
I need to see a little more from some other exciting arms: Mariners Justin Dunn, Athletics Jesus Luzardo, AJ Puk.
On Their Way:
Corey Kluber SP Rangers- It's hard to say that Kluber's best days are behind him, and that's because they aren't. I am on the side that the 34yo Kluber has plenty left to give. With a career 32.3WAR, 95-58 record with a 3.16ERA/2.99FIP with 1462K-293BB over 1342.2IP. Thus far, Kluber has earned 2 Cy Young awards, 1 ERA title, and 3x All-Star. IF and only IF Kluber can rebound from not pitching in 2020 and resume his career at a high level, I can easily see him in the conversation for a spot in Cooperstown.
Justin Verlander SP Astros- The 16yr vet has been nothing short of dominant in his career. Having earned 1 MVP, 2 Cy Young, ROY, Triple Crown, ERA Title, ALCS MVP, ML PoY, 2017 World Series* and is an 8x All-Star. With a career 71.8WAR, 226-129 record, 3013K-851BB, and a 3.33ERA/3.41FIP over that time. He has also been a top 11 Cy Young voter seven times in his career and finished no lower than 20th in the MVP voting six times; if Verlander pitches in 2021 and comes back strong from Tommy John surgery, he will go down as one of the best to ever take the mound.
Zack Greinke- SP Astros- Greinke, much like his teammate JV, is best to take the bump. Greinke has earned 1 Cy Young, 6 Gold Gloves, 2 Silver Sluggers, and 2 ERA Titles with 6 All-star appearances. Greinke has pitched to a 72.2WAR, 3.37ERA/3.37FIP with 2689K-676BB over 2939IP. There isn't much more to say other than Greinke and JV will go down as two of the best pitchers over the last 20 years.
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