5 AL West predictions for September

August 29th, 2019

The last month of the season is arguably the best month of the season.

For the most part, the contenders roll through the month and right into the postseason. There are also surprises and upsets that make the final weeks especially fun to watch. As we all know, the game can be unpredictable, and anything can happen. But there are a few events that are more than just possible, they are near certain to take place.

Here’s one prediction for each team in the American League West for the final month of the season.

Angels: Trout reigns supreme
It’s time for Mike Trout to make more room on his trophy mantle. He’s the real MVP again.

Trout will conclude his impressive season with a strong finish on his way to hitting 50 homers for the first time in his career and winning AL MVP Award honors for a third time. Trout has already set a career-high in homers and will also set a career-best in RBIs this year. The center fielder won the award in 2014 and '16, and finished second in '12, '13, '15 and '18.

Astros: Home-field advantage awaits
The Astros are in a virtual tie with the Yankees for the best record in the AL and are 14 victories away from another 100-win season. Of their 29 games remaining, only nine are against teams currently with a winning record. It’s also worth noting that the Astros own the tiebreaker over the Yankees if both clubs finish the season with the same record. How important is home-field advantage in the playoffs?

In 2017, the Astros beat the Yankees in seven games in the ALCS in which the home team won every game.

Athletics: Homer history
The A's have already tied a franchise record with five players -- Matt Chapman, Matt Olson, Marcus Semien, Mark Canha and Ramon Laureano -- passing the 20-homer mark, and by the time September ends, they would tie a Major League record with two more hitters likely joining the club.

Khris Davis has had a power outage this season, but he’s sitting at 19 home runs, and he should have no problem hitting one more. Davis hasn't gone an entire month without homering since his rookie 2013 season. Jurickson Profar, who sits at 16 home runs, will have a tougher time after seeing a recent decrease in playing time, but he has the power and ability to reach 20.

Mariners: A catcher will lead the team in hitting
Only once in the franchise’s 44-year history has a catcher posted the best batting average among qualified hitters in a season -- that coming in 2012 when Jesus Montero topped the Mariners at .260 in his rookie campaign.

Part of the challenge is getting the necessary playing time, as hitters have to total 502 plate appearances (an average of 3.1 per each of the 162 games) to officially qualify for a batting title. Due to injury and roster turnover, the Mariners only have four players currently on pace to reach that total -- outfielders Domingo Santana and Mallex Smith, first baseman Daniel Vogelbach and catcher Omar Narvaez.

Narvaez is a legitimate challenger for the top average regardless of the number of contenders, and he has supplemented that average with some pop as well. His 19 home runs are already the fourth-most by a Mariners catcher in a full season.

Rangers: Hunt for pitching
One sure prediction for the Rangers in September is that their pro scouts will be looking hard at the potential free agent starting pitchers who might be available this winter. This could be one of the deeper classes of starting pitching available headlined by Madison Bumgarner, Gerrit Cole, Hyun-Jin Ryu, Wade Miley, Jake Odorizzi and, for the second straight winter, Dallas Keuchel.

There are also different kinds of options on pitchers like Stephen Strasburg, Yu Darvish, Corey Kluber and Jake Arrieta that could make it even deeper. Former Cy Young Award winners Felix Hernandez and Rick Porcello will be out there as will be former Rangers pitcher Cole Hamels. The Rangers could use one more veteran pitcher to go with Lance Lynn and Mike Minor. The Rangers scouts should be all over the map evaluating the potential free agents.