2012 MLB Analysis: Know Your Enemy AL West

Seattle gains ground

May has not been kind to the AL West. The division has a 43-44 record in May, with just Oakland and Los Angeles enjoying winning records. With such a lackluster month, division records remain relatively unchanged.

Current Standings

  • Texas Rangers: 27-18
  • Oakland Athletics: 22-23 (5 GB)
  • Seattle Mariners: 21-25 (6.5 GB)
  • Los Angeles Angels: 20-25 (7 GB)

The Enemies

Texas Rangers- Josh Hamilton’s Huge Week Leads Rangers

If you’re not a Texas Rangers fan, you’re envious. Don’t pretend you’re not. You’re envious because they have Josh Hamilton, and you don’t.

In one week, the AL MVP/AL Triple Crown favorite doubled his home run total, from 9 to 18. That was the same week that he had a monstrous 4 home run game, a feat more rare than a perfect game.

josh hamilton

Josh Hamilton is leading the Rangers

Outside of Hamilton, the Rangers remain one of the league’s most dangerous teams. They have one of baseballs best 1-2 combos with Ian Kinsler (5 home runs, 7 stolen bases) and Elvis Andrus (.308, 8 stolen bases).

Adrian Beltre continues to enjoy life outside of Seattle, hitting .308 with 9 home runs.

Their starters continue to come back down to reality. Colby Lewis, Derek Holland and Matt Harrison have all seen their numbers normalize in May.

Despite control issues, Yu Darvish (1.411 WHIP, 5.1 BB/9) continues to impress. Converted closer Neftali Feliz, currently on the DL (elbow) will be eligible to return come June).

With a pretty easy June schedule ahead, the Rangers are in a position to really extend their division lead.

Oakland Athletics- Horrible Hitting, and Stud Pitching, Keeps Oakland in the Race

Offensively, this team is horrible. The team as a whole is hitting .210/.287/.333, with only four starters hitting above the Mendoza Line.

With Yoenis Cespedes hitting the 15-day DL (strained left hand), the lineup has been all about Josh Reddick. Reddick, acquired from the Boston Red Sox in the Andrew Bailey trade, is showing off his power ceiling with 11 home runs in just 43 games—compared to his 7 in 87 games in 2011.

The real story will come at the end of May. Come the 30th, Manny Ramirez—serving a 50-game suspension after a second positive test for PEDs—will be eligible to join the team.

Though he won’t enter the lineup immediately, his power could give the Oakland lineup a real boost.

With such an awful lineup, Oakland’s rotation has been pulling double time to keep the As in the race. The laws of life, nature and baseball have caught up to Bartolo Colon, as the 39-year old has a 7.58 ERA in May.

The trend in Oakland seems to be injuries and rookies.

Know Your Enemy

Yoenis Cespedes hit the 15-day DL

The rotation was in shambles at season’s start, with Brett Anderson (elbow) and Dallas Braden (shoulder) starting on the DL. Ace Brandon McCarthy, on the DL with a strained right shoulder, is poised for an early June return.

Rookies Tommy Milone (acquired from Washington for Gio Gonzalez) and Trevor Bauer (acquired from Arizona for Trevor Cahill) continue to see early success.

They’re a combined 7-5 with a 3.57 ERA.

Despite strong pitching, it seems doubtful the team can succeed without offensive support.

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim- Absent Players Make Way for Extra Clout

The recent absences of Vernon Wells—15-day DL—and Torii Hunter—restricted list—have been blessings in disguise.

It’s allowed Mike Scioscia to get Mark Trumbo (.325/.388/.556), Kendrys Morales (.287/.328/.393) and Mike Trout (.315/.382/.539, 4 home runs and 6 stolen bases) into the everyday lineup.

Since hitting his first home run of the season, Albert Pujols has set a pace of 1 home run every 17.5 ABs; not far off from his career mark of 1 home run every 14 AB. However, he’s still hitting a soft .213/.258/.331—not what we expect from the Prince of 21st Century offense.

The biggest issue facing the Angels’ lineup is ordering. Mike Trout is hot enough that he’s making an ideal leadoff man, but the struggles of players like Eric Aybar and Peter Bourjos has forced all that speed in the bottom of the lineup.

Pitching remains in flux for the Angels. Jered Weaver and C.J. Wilson continue to dominate, while Dan Haren (6.03 ERA in May) continues to struggle.

Ervin Santana—generally a slow starter—has started to look like his 2011 form, posting a 2.17 ERA in May while lowering his WHIP by 0.500 points.

LA needs to work out the kinks in the lineup, and Dan Haren’s pitching, before they can get back on track.


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