MLB Outlook: American League West

As far as the AL (American League) West goes, it’s Houston’s time to shine. So it’s time to let the battle for 2nd place commence!

Houston Astros 50-24: The first team to reach 50 wins in baseball, the Astros, are currently running away with the AL West division lead. They are currently sitting comfortably with 12.5 games between themselves and the 2nd place Seattle Mariners. The Astros are doing everything right this season. Offensively, they lead the MLB (Major League Baseball) with a .280 average, 118 home runs, and they’re 1st in runs scored with 408. The ‘Stros pitching is also going extremely well, as they’re 3rd in ERA at 3.69, which is 1st in the AL. They’re also 1st in the AL with a WHIP (walks hits per inning pitched) of 1.19, which is 2nd in all of baseball. Basically, everything is going right for the Astros in 2017. With stud second baseman, Jose Altuve (.322 average, 10 home runs, 34 RBIs), leading the way, the ‘Stros don’t need to change a thing.

Seattle Mariners 38-37: Once again, the Seattle Mariners are a pretty good ball team. But “pretty good” doesn’t get you into the playoffs. Currently on a 5-game winning-streak, which includes a 4-game sweep of the Detroit Tigers, the Mariners are back above the .500 mark. This is because of strong performances from players such as DH (designated hitter) Nelson Cruz (.292 average, 14 home runs, 58 RBIs), who currently leads his team in each of the triple crown categories, veteran second baseman Robinson Cano (.284 average, 13 home runs, 48 RBIs), and right fielder Ben Gambel (.352 average, 3 home runs and 24 RBIs). They’ve also managed to get above .500 without the help of “King” Felix Hernandez, who has been on the DL (disabled list) since April 26th with shoulder inflamation, and his absence can be seen in their pitching. The Mariners have managed to do all of this on offense alone. However, if they expect to compete and close the rather large and formidable gap between themselves and the 1st place Astros, then they need Hernandez back at the head of their rotation, and they need better pitching all around as their team ERA is sitting at 4.67, which puts them at 21st in all of baseball, and 11th in the AL. Clearly the Mariners need pitching help now, and they need it fast. Luckily for them, reports indicate that Hernandez will be back soon, and rookie starter Andrew Moore had a strong debut to his career only yesterday, throwing 7 innings with 4 strikeouts and no walks, all while only allowing 3 runs.

Los Angeles Angels 38-38: Without Mike Trout, you know, the best player in all of baseball, how can the Angels hope to compete? Without Trout in the lineup everyday, the Angels next best player is the former “best player in all of baseball,” Albert Pujols. But even he can’t lead a team as he is on the wrong side of 35 and has been relegated to DH duties. Pujols has seen a significant drop-off in his average (.239 in 2017 vs. .307 for his career)as well, and simply no longer has the credentials to warrant being a team’s go to guy on the field and at the plate. He’s a future Hall of Famer and former MVP, but he is far past his prime. Since May 28th, when Trout was put on the DL, the Angels have gone 12-11. Not horrible, but also not good enough to compete. The Angels currently sit at 23rd with a .244 average and are also 23rd with 84 home runs. Pitching-wise, they’re 10th in all the majors with an ERA of 4.12, which is good enough for 6th in the AL. While the Angels pitching isn’t horrible, it by no means will lead them to a division title, let alone a World Series title, and without Mike Trout manning centerfield, the Angels have no hope of their offense making up for their lack of pitching. The Angels not only need Trout back in order to compete, but they need all the help that they can get on the mound.

Texas Rangers 36-36: Last seasons AL West division winners are not feeling so hot under that Texas sun these days. Despite the high temperatures in Texas, the Rangers bats have run cold, and their pitchers need some ice to keep down the bullpen’s swelling ERA. Thus far this season, while the Rangers have put up decent numbers while at the plate and on the mound, they can’t seem to do it all at the same time. When they hit well one game, their pitchers can’t hit the target. When they pitch well in another game, their hitters couldn’t hit if they were swinging at a beach volleyball. That is why they’re currently sitting at .500 while the Astros have usurped their throne atop the AL West. However, it is only a matter of time before this team manages to put it all together. The Rangers are the most legitimate threat to the Astros for the division crown, despite being tied for 3rd with the Angels. With staff ace, Cole Hamels getting closer to returning from the DL day-by-day, there’s no telling what the Rangers can do with the 1-2 punch that is Yu Darvish and Hamels at the head of their rotation. The Rangers are primed to give the Astros a run for their money, and they’re ready to do it soon.

Oakland Athletics 31-42: Right now all the Oakland A’s have going for them is that the 2011 movie, Moneyball, was really good. Seriously. This team is a mess. Offensively, they’re 28th in average at .241, they’re actually tied for 11th in home runs at 99, and they’re 23rd in runs with 313. On the mound they’re 25th with a 4.93 ERA, and they’ve allowed 91 home runs at a very pitcher friendly park. Individually, the A’s are getting a career year out of first baseman Yonder Alonso (.296 average, 17 home runs, 37 RBIs), and left fielder Khris Davis (.241 average, 18 home runs, 46 RBIs) is proving that last seasons production was no fluke. The A’s are just an all around bad team who need help at the plate and on the mound. They need help everywhere. They’re currently in a rebuild and it would take far more than the team can afford in order for them to be competitive for even a Wild Card spot in 2017.

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