Before the season began it was predicted that the AL West would again be a tough division with many national writers already crowning the Los Angeles Angels the division champs and, for some, the winners of the World Series. Many felt that Oakland would finish in second with the Rangers finishing third while Houston and Seattle would fight it out for last place. On paper it looked like they could be right. But there was just one problem; it was all on paper.
A lot of writers have yet to grasp the concept of sabermetrics and trends and use just their eyes. Now, I’m not saying that using the eye test is wrong but there are so many other tools available to use when making decisions. Looking at the numbers you could see that the Angels were lacking terribly in pitching, both starting and in the bullpen. Looking at trends you knew that the A’s would regress a little from the magical season in 2012. Crunching stats you would find that Texas would be okay without Josh Hamilton, Mike Napoli and Michael Young.
I did all of the above and so far I’ve been right. What I didn’t see was just how bad the Angels would be coming out of the gate. Yes I knew they lacked the pitching but I didn’t expect the super trio of Mike Trout, Josh Hamilton and Albert Pujols to all have a collective poor start. Mike Trout is finally coming around as of late as he’s pulled his average up to .281 while Hamilton still sits with a slash line of .205/.255/.311. The Angels are sitting in fourth place just a game ahead of the Astros entering today.
As for Oakland, they’re currently sitting in second place with an 18-18 record. Now I know that a .500 record is okay this early in the season but Oakland’s record is slightly deceiving. Of their eighteen wins thirteen are against AL West rivals Los Angeles, Seattle and Houston. In fact the A’s are 13-3 against the division (except for Texas whom they have yet to face) and 5-15 against the rest of the league. Oakland also has yet to play a single interleague game.
Meanwhile the Texas Rangers are sitting in first place with a four game lead and a day off before they travel to Houston to face those last place Astros. The Rangers have the best home record in the West at 11-4 and have the only winning road record. This wasn’t supposed to be happening especially when you consider the injuries that Texas has faced with its pitching staff. But that’s just how good the organization is with its depth in the farm system. Things are great right now and they’ll only get better.
Until next time, I’ll see you in the cheap seats!
James Holland is a lifelong fan of baseball and his hometown Texas Rangers. He also has a blog at clawandantlernation.com and is a senior columnist for shutdowninning.com. You can also follow him on Twitter @SDIJamesHolland.