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American League West Breakdown

JR Salazar/ via Flickr



American League West Breakdown

In 2015 the American League West featured a battle between the Texas Rangers and the Houston Astros for the Division title.  At the beginning of the 2016 season many were predicting that battle to be renewed.  Today we take a closer look at the American League West and see just where we stand at this point in the 2016 season.

Texas Rangers

The Texas Rangers now sit at 77-54 and are holding strong to an 8.5 game lead in the American League West.  They have made it clear that they are going for it all in the 2016 season.  At the trade-deadline no team was more active than the Rangers.  After a vetoed trade between the Milwaukee Brewers and the Cleveland Indians in which Jonathan Lucroy would have headed to the Indians, the Rangers took full advantage of the Indians misfortune.  The Rangers jumped to life and traded for the All-Star catcher Lucroy, and was able to add Milwaukee’s closer Jeremy Jeffress.  That wasn’t enough for the Rangers though.  They would also strike a deal with the New York Yankees for Veteran outfielder Carlos Beltran and add strength to an already strong line-up.

With Cole Hamels and Yu Darvish sitting at the top of the starting rotation and the addition of these All-Star caliber players to an already dangerous line-up, the Rangers should be set to make a deep run into the American League Playoffs and a strong chance at their first World Series title.  The last time the Rangers made the World Series was in 2010 where they lost to the San Francisco Giants.  You could say that the Rangers are feeling a sense of urgency to win a title, but that would be a bit of an understatement for their fan-base.  On Monday night the Rangers started a stretch of 25 straight division games by hosting and defeating the Seattle Mariners.

Houston Astros

The Houston Astros have built a team that was meant to win and they have shown that they may be doing that for a long time to come.  No team has taken a larger leap than the Astros over the last four seasons.  In 2013 the Astros lost 111 games, in 2014 they lost 92 games, and in 2015 they improved by another 16 games and finished with a record of 86-76 and a wild-card spot in the playoffs.  Their leader is not the biggest guy in baseball, but he has shown he can play the game as well as the rest of the big boys across the American League.  Jose Altuve may not have the biggest shoulders, but he has shown he has big enough shoulders to carry his team.  The Astros Lead-off hitter leads the majors in batting (.355), second in the AL in on-base percentage (.415), third in slugging (.565), and third in stolen bases (26).

Along side him in the infield is the 2015 Rookie of the Year winner, Carlos Correa.  Correa not only has shown he can man the shortstop position as well as anyone, but he also is leading the team in RBI’s in 2016.  He is batting .275, with 19 home runs, 89 RBI, and a .363 on-base percentage.  With this young core producing so well up the middle defensively and putting up the numbers at the plate, the Astros are built to be good for a long time.  Unless the Astros can get their Starting pitching to step it up and return to the form they were last year, they may struggle to catch up in the wild card race.  The Houston Astros currently sit 2 games back of the final wild card spot behind Detroit who is 1 game out.  The Astros are hoping the youth on the team can power them through to another playoff berth in 2016.

Seattle Mariners 

The Seattle Mariners have looked like anything but a playoff team with the obstacles they have faced throughout the 2016 season.  Since July 1st the Mariners have been forced to make 101 Roster moves, which is second in the Majors behind the LA Dodgers.  They also have logged more DL days for a pitching staff than any other team in baseball.  They have used 30 active pitchers over the season and this is all prior to the September roster expansions.  So to say it is a shocking that the Mariners are even in contention for a Wild Card spot is saying something about this team.  They have without a doubt shown resilience like no team in the game.  The only hope at this point for the Mariners, as they sit 3 games back in the wild card, is for their offense to explode.  With the bats of Robinson Cano, Kyle Seager, and Nelson Cruz it is a possibility.  It may be unlikely for the Mariners to make the playoffs, but if they do it would be one of the best stories in baseball for sure.

Los Angeles Angels

If you are looking for good things to say about the Angels this season, look no further than their All-Star centerfielder Mike Trout.  Trout is the definition of consistency.  He continues to put up numbers that make him one of the greatest in the game.  However, Trout is buried on a team that continues to provide no hope of being a playoff team anytime soon.  The team sports the signs of a team much like the old Chicago Cubs that was happy just having a name that would sell tickets.  The Angels are loaded down with aging players with huge contracts and have a Front Office that continues to fail to make any big moves during the offseason to improve.  They sit at 57-74 and find themselves 20.5 games out in the Division and 14 games out of a wild card spot.  Now the only hope that the Angels fans have is that the front office doesn’t make a mistake and lose their franchise player who just happens to be one of the best players in baseball.  Trout is under contract until the end of the 2017 season and rumors have it that if the Angels don’t do something soon, he could be looking for a new home.

Oakland Athletics

The A’s are currently tied for last place in the Division with the LA Angels at 57-74.  The Oakland A’s starting rotation has fell apart this season and they have been unable to recover.  They were counting on Sonny Gray and Rich Hill to lead them, but Gray got injured and now Hill plays for the Dodgers.  Much like the Seattle Mariners, the A’s have patched together a pitching staff this season.  The difference is, it hasn’t quite panned out for them like it has for the Mariners.  The A’s do not have the offensive power to carry them through their struggling pitching times.  At the trade deadline they traded Rich Hill and Josh Reddick to the Dodgers and are hoping to build on the return in prospects they received.  The A’s received minor league right-handers Grant Holmes, Jharel Cotton and Frankie Montas, a Triple-A starter who is recovering from injury.  There is no hope for the A’s this year, but they pray that GM Billy Beane can work some of his magic like he did in 2012 when the A’s were relevant.  The problem is, the A’s may have to spend some money to compete and we all know that is not Beanes style.

Check back on Thursday as we take a look at the NL West Division and how each team stacks up.