AL West most indispensable players


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The star-studded American League West boasts some of the most recognizable names in the game.
It’s loaded with MVPs, World Series champions and rising stars. It’s also filled with players who are crucial to their team’s success. These players are often the best — some might call them “Most Valuable”

The star-studded American League West boasts some of the most recognizable names in the game.

It’s loaded with MVPs, World Series champions and rising stars. It’s also filled with players who are crucial to their team’s success. These players are often the best — some might call them “Most Valuable” — on the roster, but that’s not always the case.

Which player would your favorite team miss the most if he were not in the lineup or on the roster? Who is the most indispensable player on each team in the AL West?

Angels: Mike Trout

Trout is the Angels’ best player on both sides of the ball, and he’s a clubhouse leader. He’s Mr. Angel, and they can’t afford for him to lose him to injury or fatigue or anything that will keep him off the field.

Trout missed more than a month in 2017 after injuring his left thumb, and his club was never able to get on track. He was out early this season with a right groin strain and the team went on a six-game losing streak as he struggled to get his timing back.

He’s the game’s best player and arguably frontrunner for the AL MVP Award every season, but let’s be real, he’s even more important to the Angels. They don’t have the depth to withstand his absence. The Angels without Trout is not something anybody wants to dream about, well, excluding his AL West opponents.

Astros: Alex Bregman

Bregman burst onto the scene in 2017 with his playoff heroics and became a star last year when he set career highs in runs (105), hits (170), doubles (51), homers (31), RBIs (103) and walks (96) on his way to being named the Astros’ Most Valuable Player.

He hasn’t slowed down this year and has taken his defense to another level, playing Gold Glove-caliber third base. Bregman hits third in baseball’s deepest lineup (before Jose Altuve was injured) and is a menace to opposing pitchers because of his power and how difficult he is to strike out. He also plays with the kind of swagger his opponents love to hate and Astros fans adore unconditionally. He is a human dynamo and the team’s heartbeat.

Athletics: Khris Davis

If you want to understand the type of impact Davis has on the lineup, look no further than his 2018 stint on the injured list, when the A’s averaged 5.1 runs for the season, but only 1.7 in the nine games he was out.

Davis changes the dynamic of the lineup by forcing pitchers to pitch more aggressively to the batters in front of him. That’s why the A’s were hesitant to place him on the IL as he dealt with a hip contusion, and preferred to go with one less fully healthy player on the active roster in order to avoid Davis missing a full 10 days. He missed five games before returning to the lineup on Sunday.

Davis went nearly a month (April 12-May 13) without a home run. The A’s went from a season-high two games over .500 to a season-high six games under .500 during that span.

Mariners: Mitch Haniger

While the 2018 All-Star isn’t off to a hot start average-wise this year, there’s no questioning his value as a centerpiece of the rebuilding Mariners. The 28-year-old is a five-tool player who already has double-digit doubles and home runs, and the ability to hit anywhere in the lineup, including leading off, for a team with one of the most-productive offenses in the AL.

He is also clearly the best outfielder on a club that needs all the defensive help it can get. He’s even shifted often from right field to center to help cover during the early struggles of Mallex Smith. His fWAR of 5.8 since the start of 2018 is the highest total of any Mariner in that span.

Rangers: Shin-Soo Choo

Choo is the Rangers’ best hitter and the best example of what they are trying to do offensively as a team. He is selective at the plate, doesn’t chase bad pitches and really grinds down the opposing pitcher. He is a true clubhouse leader, a veteran the younger players look up to in the clubhouse and his peers can reach out to for advice.

Choo is also playing more in the outfield since Delino DeShields was optioned to Triple-A and with the Rangers trying to get Hunter Pence in the lineup. Critics argue the seven-year, $130 million deal Choo signed before the 2014 season is a burden to the Rangers, but he has done everything the Rangers have asked and expected of him during his time in Texas.

Jesse Sanchez, who has been a reporter for MLB.com since 2001, is a national reporter based in Phoenix. Follow him on Twitter @JesseSanchezMLB and Facebook.



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