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Here are the AL West's top corner infield pairs

@MartinJGallegos
January 22, 2020

MLB.com continues to take a position-by-position look at the teams in the American League West. This week, it's corner infielders. The best: Athletics It’s no coincidence that the A’s successful run of back-to-back 97-win seasons began as soon as Matt Chapman and Matt Olson commenced their first full big league

MLB.com continues to take a position-by-position look at the teams in the American League West. This week, it's corner infielders.

The best: Athletics
It’s no coincidence that the A’s successful run of back-to-back 97-win seasons began as soon as Matt Chapman and Matt Olson commenced their first full big league seasons in 2018.

Chapman and Olson have been at the forefront of Oakland's recent surge -- one that has them knocking on the door of AL West supremacy. The two Matts are establishing themselves as pillars of the franchise by locking down the corner infield spots, with Chapman’s dazzling wizard-like saves at the hot corner and Olson’s ability to pick everything that came his way leading to each player earning their second consecutive Gold Glove Award at their respective positions last season. However, defense only tells half the story.

Chapman added to his two Gold and Platinum Glove Awards by earning his first All-Star selection in 2019, finishing the year batting .249 with 36 homers and 91 RBIs, joining Sal Bando (1969) and Eric Chavez (2001, '02) as just the third A’s third baseman to reach 30 home runs in a season.

In a year in which he missed virtually the first month of the season due to hand surgery, Olson still managed to put up monster numbers. The left-handed-hitting first baseman slugged a career-high 36 homers, tying Chapman for the team lead, while also driving in 91 runs and slashing .267/.351/.545 over 127 games. His 134 wRC+ and 3.9 fWAR were second to Carlos Santana among AL first basemen.

When it comes to the AL West, there’s no better duo than the cornerstones of the A’s franchise who lock down the corner infield spots.

The rest (in alphabetical order):

Angels
The Angels are set to feature plenty of star power at the corner infield spots. Newcomer Anthony Rendon, who signed a seven-year, $245 million deal in December, gives the Halos an MVP-caliber player who can deepen a formidable lineup as well as provide plus-defense at third base. Albert Pujols, who turned 40 last week, remains entrenched at first base as he enters the penultimate season of his 10-year contract, though the Angels also have Matt Thaiss and Jared Walsh as reserve options. David Fletcher is expected to split time with Tommy La Stella at second base, but he can play all over the infield and will be available to back up Rendon if needed.

Astros
The Astros got terrific production at the corners in 2019 behind All-Star third baseman Alex Bregman, who finished second in the AL MVP Award race, and first baseman Yuli Gurriel. Bregman became the fifth individual in history to reach 41 homers, 119 walks, 37 doubles and 83 or fewer strikeouts while driving in 112 runs and hitting .296. He led the AL in fWAR (8.5) and was also a Gold Glove Award finalist. Gurriel hit .298 with 31 homers and 104 RBIs, batting .338 with 26 homers and 72 RBIs in his final 73 games last year. He was a finalist for the Gold Glove Award at first base.

Mariners
Seattle expects to go with opposite ends of the experience spectrum at the corners, with its longest-tenured veteran, Kyle Seager, at third base and untested rookie Evan White at first. Seager, the only remaining Mariner who was on the Major League roster when general manager Jerry Dipoto and manager Scott Servais took over in 2016, came on strong in the second half last year after missing the first two months with a torn tendon in his left hand. He now has hit 20-plus homers in eight straight seasons.

White, the Mariners’ first-round Draft pick in 2017, has yet to play above the Double-A level. But the 23-year-old defensive standout signed a guaranteed six-year, $24 million deal in November and will be given every opportunity to win the starting job this spring, with Daniel Vogelbach and Austin Nola as backup options.

Rangers
First base remains the great unknown for the Rangers this winter. Left-handed hitter Ronald Guzmán is the returning starter, but the Rangers remain interested in free agent slugger Nicholas Castellanos. He has been an outfielder for the past two years and has never played first base, but Castellanos has played third and the Rangers think he could transition to first.

If the Rangers don’t land Castellanos, then Guzmán could be their guy, although Sam Travis, a right-handed hitter acquired from the Red Sox, is a potential platoon partner. The Rangers also signed veteran Todd Frazier to play third base. He doesn’t have the same impact as Rendon or Nolan Arenado -- two other targets for the Rangers this winter -- but he should be solid until top prospects Josh Jung and David Wendzel are ready to take over.

Martin Gallegos covers the A's for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @MartinJGallegos.