New York- MLB Opening Day is less than ten days away and baseball fans couldn’t be more ecstatic. The offseason has been a handful to keep up with free agency signings along with big-time trades going down. With the season approaching quickly, Latino Sports will preview each division across MLB throughout the next week or so. We will recap teams key departures/additions from the offseason, their 2021 record, as well as interesting facts, and statistics on Latino players who are stars for their respective ballclub. Today we begin our division preview with the almighty American League West.
This division contains perennial talents across all positions. Names that instantly come to mind are, Texas Rangers Marcus Semian, 2021 AL MVP Shohei Ohtani and superstar Mike Trout for the LA Angels. The Oakland A’s have made three postseason appearances since 2017. The Seattle Mariners had one of the best offseasons across MLB through multiple trades made by general manager, Jerry Dipoto.
The last three out of five years, the AL pennant winner came out of the AL West, thus being the Houston Astros. Despite the well-known publicized cheating scandal throughout the 2017 postseason run, Houston’s success throughout the last half decade has been impressive. Along the way, two different managers, AJ Hinch and Dusty Baker, in addition to prospects coming up and sparking the team, immediately called upon such players as Kyle Tucker and Yordano Álvarez.
2021 Record: 95-67
2021 Result: Won the AL pennant, Lost in World Series to the Atlanta Braves in six games
Key Departures: Free-agent shortstop, Carlos Correa (Twins), Free-agent starting pitcher, Zack Greinke (Royals), Free-agent relief pitcher, Kendall Graveman (White Sox), Free-agent outfielder/Infielder, Marwin Gonzáles (NY Yankees)
Key Additions: Re-signed Justin Verlander, Traded for catcher, Gerret Stubbs and outfielder, Logan Cerney (Phillies)
Álvarez is only 24 years old and has proved he is a franchise-type of player. From the city of Las Tunas, Cuba, he displays incredible power from the left-side of the plate, especially in the clutch. Álvarez was awarded the 2021 ALCS MVP as the Astros defeated the Boston Red Sox in 6 games. During the series, he posted a .522 batting average with 12 hits and 6 runs batted in.
2021 Record: 90-72, Second in AL West
2021 Result: Failed to reach postseason
Key Departures: Third baseman, Kyle Seager (Retired), Free-agent pitcher, Yusei Kikuchi (Blue Jays), Traded pitcher, Justin Dunn and outfielder, Jake Fraley (Reds)
Key Additions: Signed starting pitcher, Robbie Ray, signed relief pitcher, Sergio Romo, Acquired outfielder, Jesse Winker and shortstop Eugenio Suárez (Reds), Acquired second baseman Adam Frazier (Padres)
Ranked the #1 prospect in the Mariners organization and #3 across MLB, Rodríquez has the potential to be next up on the scene. From Loma de Cabrera, Dominican Republic, he represented his home country at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games earning a bronze medal.
2021 Record: 86-76, 3rd in AL West
2021 Result: Failed to reach postseason
Key Departures: Free-agent outfielders Mark Cahna and Starling Marte (NY Mets), Traded third baseman, Matt Chapman (Blue Jays), Traded starting pitcher, Chris Bassit (NY Mets), Traded first baseman, Matt Olson (Braves)
Key Additions: Signed catcher, Stephen Vogt, Acquired OF, Cristian Pache (Braves), Acquired pitchers, Zach Logue, Kirby Snead and infielder, Kevin Smith (Blue Jays)
The right-hander, Montas is one of Oaklands core pitchers throughout their rotation, along with LHP Sean Manaea. From San Cristóbal, Dominican Republic, Montas clipped a 3.37 earned run average with 207 strikeouts and a 13-9 record in the 2021 season.
Frankie Montas is a finalist for the 32nd Annual Latino Sports American League Starting Pitcher Award.
LOS ANGELES ANGELS
2021 Record: 77-85
2021 Result: 4th in AL West, Failed to reach postseason
Key Departures: Free-agent starting Pitcher, Dylan Bundy (Twins), Free-agent starting Pitcher, Alex Cobb (Giants), Free-agent outfielder, Dexter Fowler, Non-tendered infielder, Phil Gosselin
Key Additions: Signed pitchers, Aaron Loup and Noah Syndergaard (NY Mets), Signed pitcher, Archie Bradley (Phillies), Signed pitcher, Ryan Tepera (White Sox) Acquired infielder, Tyler Wade (NY Yankees)
From Isla de la Juventud, Cuba, Iglesias showcased himself as one of the top closers across MLB. Last season, he had 34 saves with a 2.57 earned run average and 103 strikeouts. In December of 2021, Iglesias re-signed with the Angels for a total of $54 million over the next four years.
Raisel Iglesias is a finalist for the 2021 Latino Sports American League Relief/Closing Pitcher Award.
2021 Record: 60-102
2021 Result: Last in AL West, Failed to reach postseason
Key Departures: Traded shortstop Isiah Kiner-Falefa and pitcher Ronny Henriquez (Twins), Free-agent infielder, Brock Holt (Braves), Free-agent pitcher, Jordan Lyles (Orioles)
Key Additions: Signed infielders Corey Seager (Dodgers) and Marcus Semien (Blue Jays), Signed starting pitcher, Jon Gray (Rockies), Signed outfielder, Kole Calhoun (Angels)
From Ciego de Ávila, Cuba, García is a durable and top defensive player across all positions in the outfield. In 2021, he earned an All-Star nod for the first time in his career. García smashed 31 home runs with 90 runs batted in and has the speed on the bases. To add to his season total, he had 16 stolen bases.
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