Overall AL West struggles making Astros look even worse (but feeling lucky)

Is every AL West team having a down year?
Houston Astros pitcher Justin Verlander
Houston Astros pitcher Justin Verlander / Logan Riely/GettyImages

The Houston Astros have had a rough go of it through the first two months of the 2024 season. While injuries can be blamed for some of the team's early-season struggles, every ball club has players on the IL. The bottomline is that it's June and Houston is below .500.

Thankfully, the Astros have awaken from their April slumber and have emerged from the depths of the AL West basement — a position they had occupied until Mother's Day weekend back on May 12. Houston has effectively put the struggling Los Angeles Angels and relocating Oakland A's in the rearview mirror, and now have their sights set on tracking down the Texas Rangers and Seattle Mariners.

While the Astros are 7.5 games out of first place in the division, there's still plenty of time for Houston to make up ground and secure a spot in the MLB postseason. But it should not have been this hard.

Overall AL West struggles making Astros look even worse (but feeling lucky)

Top-to-bottom, the AL West is the worst division in Major League Baseball. Though the NL Central is a close second, the stats don't lie. And that's what makes the Astros' struggles look even worse — they're not playing in a competitive division.

Granted, the Mariners have one of the best pitching staffs in the game. But Seattle's lineup couldn't hit water if they fell out of a boat. Only the Chicago White Sox have a lower OPS than the Mariners among American League teams.

On the pitching side of things, both the Angels and the Rangers have one of the worst bullpens in the league, and that's one aspect where the A's are actually near the top. The entire division has been topsy turvy this season, and not one single team has a run differential higher than +10. On top of that, every AL West has a losing record against teams with a winning record.

The fact that the AL West is as bad as it is, and yet the Astros are still struggling just to get back in the division race, makes the outlook for this season unpleasant. But at the same time, they're lucky. There's still a chance to salvage this season and make a playoff run. Astros GM Dana Brown is going to have to make some bold moves at the trade deadline in order to cobble together a competitive roster down the stretch.

The AL West is winnable, and it's time for the Astros to assert themselves into the chase for the division crown. Houston only has one series during the month of June against an AL West opponent, so the Astros will need to do some damage outside the division to remain in the hunt.

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