Less than 100 games into the season, the American League West Division has played out like expected thus far. The Texas Rangers, who made it to the World Series last season, have a small lead over the persistent Los Angeles Angels and look to take over the division.
What people didn't know was that it would take Texas a
current 11 game winning streak to get to this point. The Seattle Mariners have
been a surprise up until the last 10 games. They were a .500 team at 43-43 but
they're currently in the midst of a 9 game losing streak and fallen out of
contention. They're 11.5 games behind Texas in this 4 team division..
Let's take an in depth look at the respective American
League West teams and the outlook on the rest of the season
Currently, the Rangers have a record of 55-41, 4 games ahead
of the 2nd place Angels. Bodog has Texas at 7/1 to win the AL Pennant and 14/1
to win the World Series. Both of these MLB odds lines seem appealing for a team that was
in the World Series last season and has an one of the best offenses in the
league like Texas.
This might be by coincidence, but the Rangers have been
playing well ever since Josh Hamilton threw a baseball up to a fan to give to
his son and the fan unfortunately fell 20 feet to his death, trying to catch
the ball. WIth the past history that Josh Hamilton has, I'm sure that he
carries this incident with him each day, along with the Texas Rangers
organization as a whole.
This incident could've possibly have brought more
unity to the team as they wear black ribbons on their uniforms for each game.
This might be a motivational tool for the rest of the season. The Rangers have
been red hot, winning 11 straight games and have a record of 17-9 against the
Texas ranks near the top of most offensive statistical
categories. They're 2nd in runs, 1st in hits, 3 in doubles, 7th in triples, 2nd
in home runs, 3rd in runs batted in, 3rd in stolen bases, 2nd in batting
average, and 5th in on base percentage. This is an offensive powerhouse that
does everything well.
The Rangers have many contributors. They have 6 players in
double figure home runs. Each player excels in a particular category. Michael
Young leads the team in hitting with 8 HR, 62 RBI, .321 BA, and 120 hits.
Nelson Cruz leads the team in home runs with 21. Adrian Beltre is an overall
offensive threat with 19 HR and 72 RBI.
Elvis Andrus and Ian Kinsler bring speed to the basepath, leading the
team with 27 and 19 SB respectively. Kinsler can also hit for power, while
Andrus hits more for average. Veteran Mike Napoli has hit for power in limited
at-bats. Napoli has 13 HR, 34 RBI in just 162 at-bats. Finally, Josh Hamilton
has missed games but has 12 HR, 52 RBI, and .294 BA. in 231 at-bats. Look for Josh Hamilton to come up big the rest of the season.
As you can see, this is a team with many offensive options
for different situations.
The Rangers have a slightly above average pitching staff and
they're a good enough staff to win as long as the offense hits.well.
There's not one starting pitcher that's had a poor season.
Matt Harrison (8-7, 2.91), Alexi Ogando (9-3, 2.92), C.J. Wilson (10-3, 3.11),
Colby Lewis (9-7, 4.07), and Derek Holland (8-4, 4.32) are a deep staff and
have done the job. Very rarely do you find a team with 5 legitimate starters.
Neftali Feliz (0-1,, 2.97 ERA, 20 saves) has done a fairly good job as closer.
Overall. This team might very well be the deepest team in
baseball. The don't have a Jose Bautista on it but they're loaded. This is a
team to put a solid future bet on.
Los Angeles Angels
The Angels don't possess the numerous offensive options that
Texas does but they have two of the best starting pitchers in Jered Weaver and
Dan Haren. There's no substitute for good pitching. Sportsbooks currently have the Halos listed at 15/1 to win the AL Pennant and 30/1 to win the World Series Championship. I'm not
expecting this to be the 2002 World Championship team that I went to see but
expect Los Angeles to be a tough out. Regardless of their roster, they've
always been a tough team to deal with. Ask the New York Yankees, who have a
losing record against Los Angeles.
Even though the Angels are ranked 14th, this is a team that
carries guys that are capable of getting on base. They have 6 starters with a
batting average of .272 or better .Howie Kendrick leads the team in hitting but
he's tailed off slightly.
Power isn't one of the Angels strengths as they rank 20th in
home runs and 24th in runs batted in this season. However, Los Angeles has 3
sources of power and that just might be enough with a team with a great
pitching staff. Anaheim native Mark
Trumbo (18 home runs), Vernon Wells (14 home runs), and Torii Hunter (home
runs) are the power leaders. Vernon Wells has had a disappointing season but
the power has to come from somewhere. Howie Kendrick and Erick Aybar are also
capable of knocking one out of the park, while producing in other areas.
The pitching is the
backbone of the team as the Angels possess ace Jered Weaver (12-4, 1.90) and
Dan Haren (10-6, 2.75). In a post season series, these two pitchers alone could
possibly carry Los Angeles ( I keep wanting to say Anaheim). Starters Tyler
Chatwood and Ervin Santana haven't been spectacular but have been able to keep
their ERA's below 4.00 in a tough American League.
The Angels carry a decent closer in Jordan
Walden. Walden has held hitters to just a .207 BA but has blown 6 saves. He's a
definite improvement from former closer Brian Fuentes.
Overall, this is a solid 2nd place team. They're going to go
as far as the pitching takes them. The offense needs to increase it's
production in the last 60 plus games to have a chance at anything. With the
history and ability to win that the Angels have had, this is a team that can't
be counted out. They can't let red hot Texas get too far ahead of them.
The Mariners have had a good season up until their current 9
game losing streak. This has taken them out of contention at 43-52. The only
thing that will put them back into contention is a winning streak like the one
that Texas is currently on.
This is one of the worst offenses in the league. They rank
last in batting average. A good reason why is the play of Ichiro Suzuki. Suzuki
has been one of the most prolific singles hitters in baseball history and is a
future hall of famer. This is a guy that's hit over 206 hits for 10 straight
seasons and had a career high 262 hits in a season. Ichiro is a career .327
batter. There's no player more consistent then the man from Kasugai, Japan.
has the challenge of his American baseball career. He needs 98 hits in just 65
games to reach the 200 hit plateau for an 11th time. Don't count this guy out
and expect a monster run from Ichiro as we approach the last couple of months
of the season. Look for a team batting average of .221 to rise quickly. By the
way, Ichiro leads the team in batting average. (this tells you that they're
The Mariners haven't gotten much production from anywhere.
Justin Smoak and Miguel Olivo have very similar numbers and lead the team
powerwise. Smoak has 12 HR, 43 RBI, .227 BA and Olivo is at 12 HR, 40 RBI, .217
There's no other way to phrase it but this team is rotten
No run support has hurt Seattle pitching but the pitching
has held the opponents in check. They're 6th in the league with a 3.27 ERA.
"King Felix" Hernandez really must be tired of playing for this team.
His win-loss total is affected by such a lousy offense. Hernandez is 8-8 with a
3.26 ERA. This hasn't been one of his best seasons but he's deserved a better
fate on more than one occasion.
All Seattle starters have pitched below a 4.00 ERA yet,
Michael Pineda is the only pitcher above .500 with a 8-6 record to go along
with a 3.03 ERA. How is Doug Fister 3-11 with a 3.18 ERA? I have the answer. No
Seattle is lucky where they're at, with a 9 game losing
streak included. The offense and Ichiro Suzuki have been their downfall. Don't
expect much from this team the rest of the way. Their most recent series at
home against Texas defined their season.
At 42-54, the A's find themselves in the cellar of the AL
West division. Poor road play (16-32) and poor hitting have been the primary
reasons for the poor season. They're 1st in ERA in pitching. The pitching has
done their job but just like the Mariners, the offense has held them back.
When you think about a team with few offensive options,
Oakland is one of them. Josh Willingham is the only player with any kind of
production, and even he hasn't hit for average. Willingham has 12 HR, 46 RBI,
.244 BA. The A's are next to last in home runs and 3rd to last in runs batted
in. By the way, they're tied for 4th to last (27th) in batting average.
Coco Crisp is an average player that can produce at times.
He's given the A's all that he has at 4 HR, 31 RBI, .263 BA, 27 SB. Former
Yankee and Japanese legend Hideki Matsui might be looking to retire. Matsui
doesn't seem to have anything left. This was once an above average hitter on a
winning team. Those days are long gone.
On a more pleasant note, as I mentioned earlier, the A's
lead the league in earned run average. This pitching has kept the team afloat.
The A's lack a legitimate closer but they have a legitimate ace in Gio
Gonzalez. Gonzalez is 9-6 with a 2.33 ERA. If he was on a decent team, he would
at least have 11 or 12 wins. Nonetheless, Gonzalez is a major asset for any
pitching staff. Trevor Cahill has given a good accounting for himself. He's 8-8
with a 3.16 ERA. Whenever Cahill steps to the mound, the A's have a decent
chance to win. That's saying a lot considering their roster. The pitching is
solid and just lacks a closer.
As I've stated in many of my articles, Brian Fuentes is the
worst closer in the game. The A's need to cut him from the team. Fuentes is 1-8
with 12 saves (3 blown saves) and a 4.74 ERA. Even with a good offense, as long
as Fuentes is pitching, the A's are headed for doom.
There you have it. Texas looks quite deep in the hitting and
pitching departments. They seem like they have control of this division and
have all of the momentum in the world at the moment with an 11 game winning
streak. I like their future prices. It's something to consider. The Angels will
be a tailing Texas and with Weaver and Haren, they should be able to keep pace
with the Rangers. Look for Texas to win the division and for the Angels and
Rangers to keep it close.