American League West.
Angels: OPS+ 91. ERA+ 109. Am I the only one who doesn’t think that the Angels are the best team in baseball? Just one day after they swept the Red Sox? The Angels have good pitching, and absolutely no one is doubting that. But their offense is pretty weak for the supposed “Best Team in Baseball.” If they end up making a deal for a serious bat, then my view of them will change. But right now they have a well below average offense. The OPS+ of 91 indicates that (That OPS+ comes in 12th in the AL), and the fact that they are tenth in the league in runs per game doesn’t help their cause any. Yes, they play small ball, kind of exciting in its own right. Yet small ball isn’t translating into runs being scored consistently. The fact that they are one of the best at manufacturing a run in a tight ball game helps, but I will take an offense built around the home run any day of the week if it is among the best in the league. With the pitching the Angels have they do not need a great offense, but it has to be better than this. Luckily for them, they play in a weak division and will be able to rest anyone with an ache or even a hiccup down the stretch.
Oakland A’s: OPS+ 93. ERA+ 112. The A’s were in the mix, but unloaded some of their key parts. And they did exactly what they should have done. I didn’t feel that Oakland had enough as they stood, though they have been proving me wrong all year, and their run differential disagrees with me. However, I was still confident that they would fade out of playoff contention. And any time a team has a fragile arm stay healthy, even for just a small amount of time, then get whatever you can for him. Rich Harden has great stuff, some of the best in the game. But they had to do it. Build for the next few seasons. If one were to ask another: Who is the best general manager in the game of baseball? Then it would be difficult to spout out anyone other than Billy Beane. Any answer in that situation is far from definite, as there are so many variables that go into a team’s success and/or failures. But tell me someone else and I will make a very, very strong case for why Beane is better. Simply put, he knows what he is doing.
…..By the way, whoever it was that suggested trading away Justin Duchscherer. Seems like a pretty good idea to me. Duchscherer, is having a very, very good year. But does anyone truly think that he is this good? If the right package comes along, then pull the trigger. But of course, I think Beane has probably already thought about this.
Texas Rangers: OPS+ 115. ERA+ 80. Milton Bradley, Ian Kinsler, Josh Hamilton? Some good offensive players. Kevin Millwood, Vicente Padilla, Sidney Ponson, Jason Jennings? Some bad veteran pitchers that have taken the mound quite a bit, 53 starts to be exact. The Rangers current staff is terrible. Kason Gabbard, while still young, was projected by Keith Law to be nothing more than a fifth starter. And that is what he seems destined to become. I want him to succeed, it just does not look likely. However, I will always remember last season when I watched him pitch a complete game against the Royals while striking out what I believe was 10 batters. That was enjoyable. But they have some catching depth, and there are some teams that need catchers. And if they could could get a nice return on Milton Bradley, who is actually an everyday player this season, then it may be smart to get some young pitching in return for him.
Seattle Mariners: OPS+ 88. ERA+ 92. Well, I guess the stat guys were right about this team. See, if listened to, the sabermetricians have some valuable information to flood our minds with. The fact that the Mariners won 88 games or whatever last season, plus Erik Bedard and Carlos Silva, gave us a reason to include them in the discussion for who wins the West. But I came to the realization that my prediction for them to win 86 games was plenty. After all, they weren’t all that good last season. And although that 1-2 punch is really talented, it just didn’t seem like enough. However, I was still very wrong and ended up giving this team way too much credit. We can make a very strong case that Kenji Johjima did not deserve all that money. But did anyone think he would be as bad as he has been at the plate this season? OPS+ 48. I doubt they did. There are many more problems with this team than just he, but he is a good example. That and the fact that their run differential really was “a good indication” of the quality of team that they fielded last year.
This division is far from over. But…it is over. The Angels, though lacking offense, are the best team in this division, and still one of the best in the game, regardless of how I sounded when describing them. The A’s will be good in a few years, I assume. The Rangers should be better too, once the prospects they have turn into Major League ballplayers. The Mariners are in the worst position. They have overpayed, underperforming, aging everyday players. Sell, Sell, Sell, Seattle.