AL West roundtable: Astros poised for 3-peat? Can Angels keep Trout?
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With Opening Day around the corner, theScore's MLB editors Michael Bradburn, Brandon Wile, and Jason Wilson answer some of the biggest questions in the American League West.

Who is the most exciting player in the division?

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Mike Trout. The best player in the game is only getting better with age. Since his rookie campaign in 2012, Trout's appeared in seven All-Star Games, won AL MVP honors twice, and has set career highs in on-base percentage in three consecutive seasons, topping out with an absurd .460 and a 1.088 OPS last year. He's so good he makes it look routine. In an age where baseball sorely lacks superstar players who can draw in the casual fan, Trout is appointment viewing. It's only going to get more precious as the years pass and he continues to rise up the all-time ranks in what is already a Hall of Fame career. - Wilson

Alex Bregman. With apologies to Trout, it's the Houston Astros third baseman. Bregman made a significant leap last season and proved he's one of the best offensive and defensive players in the majors. The former second overall pick plays with a confidence and a swagger that makes him a focal point on the field and stands out on a team loaded with star power. Coming off a year in which Bregman slashed .286/.394/.532 with 31 home runs, 51 doubles, and 10 stolen bases, while also earning a Gold Glove nomination, it appears the 24-year-old is just scratching the surface of his potential. It won't be a shock if he becomes a perennial MVP candidate. - Wile

Matt Chapman. It's definitely fun to watch Trout cement his legacy as one of the best to ever play, and it's exciting that Bregman could become the league's next superstar. However, if defensive web gems are your thing, then it's the Oakland Athletics third baseman you'll want to watch. Chapman's defense at the hot corner has already surpassed Nolan Arenado and Anthony Rendon by FanGraphs' measure. He's no slouch at the dish, either. Among qualified third basemen, Chapman finished fifth in wRC+ last year, ahead of Arenado and Eugenio Suarez, to name a couple. There's no longer just a chance that Oakland might have something special in Chapman; he's a dynamic athlete with some of the best range we've ever seen at the position, and his development could mean the difference between fourth place and a wild-card berth. - Bradburn

What is the most intriguing storyline to watch?

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Are the A's for real? For three straight seasons, the Athletics finished last in their division. Then, out of nowhere, they won 97 games and claimed a wild-card appearance last year. There's a case to be made that this team could finish anywhere between second and fourth in the AL West, which - aside from Houston - is not a particularly competitive division. The Angels have Trout but not much else, the Rangers still likely won't amount to anything, and the Mariners are in the midst of a "re-imagining," or whatever they're calling it. Can Oakland repeat? Better yet, can the A's get over the wild-card hump to become one of the four best teams in the top-heavy AL? Or was last year just an aberration? - Bradburn

Can the Angels convince Trout to stay? The clock could be ticking on Trout's time in Los Angeles. The star's contract is set to expire at the end of the 2020 season, and now the Philadelphia Phillies loom as a serious threat. The Angels will need to prove they're heading in the right direction in order to keep the greatest player in franchise history long term. Trout has already proved his loyalty with an extension once, but despite the front office spending money to try and surround the two-time MVP with talent, the Angels haven't reached the postseason since 2014 and don't appear to be a threat for the division this season, either. Trout has already achieved enough personal success, and now, it's what he can do in the postseason that will cement his legacy. - Wile*

*Trout reportedly agreed to $12-year, $430M extension Tuesday

Can the Astros become a dynasty? Houston ran roughshod over the competition in 2017 en route to the franchise's first World Series title. While the end result wasn't as pleasant a year later, the Astros actually topped their regular-season win total by going 103-59 in 2018. The core is mostly intact, and years of outstanding player development have stocked the prospect pipeline. They've pretty much punched their playoff ticket before a game has even been played, but another Fall Classic title will be the only satisfactory result. If it happens, we're talking about the makings of a dynasty that may not be close to its decline. - Wilson

Which team is the most interesting to watch?

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Mariners. As far as backhanded compliments go, calling the Mariners the most morbidly fascinating team in the AL is a pretty good one. General manager Jerry Dipoto effectively started a rebuild last fall by trading closer Edwin Diaz and second baseman Robinson Cano to the New York Mets, shortstop Jean Segura to the Phillies, and ace southpaw James Paxton to the New York Yankees. In all the commotion, however, they also acquired veteran slugger Edwin Encarnacion, speedy outfielder Mallex Smith, and Japanese starter Yusei Kikuchi. As constructed, this Mariners club is pretty wild. Maybe Encarnacion gets traded again by the July 31 deadline, but it's looking like he will open the year as the team's designated hitter. This season is not going to end well, but it should prove to be a hypnotizing mess as Dipoto and company continue to swing deals in the hopes of making a quick turnaround toward relevance. Also, this season may mark the last time we see Felix Hernandez in Mariner duds, and it is likely Ichiro Suzuki's final appearance as a major leaguer altogether. - Wilson

Astros. Even if you're not a fan of Houston, you can appreciate how good this team is. The Astros have rattled off back-to-back division titles and have won 204 games over the past two seasons. George Springer, Jose Altuve, Bregman, and Carlos Correa are stars, Justin Verlander is a future Hall of Famer, and Gerrit Cole became one of the top starters in the majors last season. Houston's offense hits for power, steals bases, and doesn't strike out, while its pitching staff is dominant. - Wile

Athletics. The A's are extremely intriguing. First off, they're likely to find themselves in an exciting AL wild-card race with the Minnesota Twins and Tampa Bay Rays. Second, the Athletics possess a ton of promising young talent that should make them at least fringe contenders for the next couple of seasons, with pitcher Jesus Luzardo chief among those players. The 21-year-old lefty produced a remarkable spring after progressing through three different minor-league levels last year. He may not open the season with the big club, but he'll make an impact in 2019. - Bradburn

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AL West roundtable: Astros poised for 3-peat? Can Angels keep Trout?
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