Northwest Sports Beat

Know your enemy: AL West postseason addition

Division well represented in October

With an exciting race to the finish, I don’t think anyone saw the AL West shaping up to this. The A’s win the division, and the Angels miss the playoffs. It’s insanity.

But that’s how things ended, in what turned out to be a very exciting year for the West.

With the Rangers set to play in tonight’s single-game AL wildcard, I thought it would be a good time to check in on the division one more time.

Final Standings

  • Oakland Athletics: 94-68
  • Texas Rangers: 93-69
  • Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim: 89-73
  • Seattle Mariners: 75-87

The enemies

Oakland Athletics

There were a lot of surprise playoff teams this year, and the Oakland Athletics certainly fit into that bunch.

The A’s rode a torrid 51-25 second half, taking the division on the last day of the season in a 12-5 win over the Rangers. While their pitching was solid, they fully utilized the long ball—hitting 112 second half homers, more than any team in the American League.

Oakland A's

Did anyone see this one coming? Photo Credit: NY Daily News

Oakland got a big boost to their rotation with the return of ace Brett Anderson. Anderson had been out since last year with TJ surgery, and finished the season 4-2 with a 2.57 ERA. He has since returned to the DL, and remains questionable for the playoffs.

Another questionable player is Brandon McCarthy, whose been sidelined since taking a line drive to the head on September 5th. He’s confirmed out for the ALDS.

With their aces hurt, Oakland once again turns to their bats. Expect big things from rookie Yoenis Cespedes, who hit nine of his 23 home runs over the last two months of the season.

Playoff Prediction: World Series bound

Texas Rangers

Nothing went right for the Rangers down the stretch, losing the AL West title on the final day of the season. The real problem became pitching, with the Rangers posting a second half ERA of 4.29.

An early injury to Neftali Feliz hurt, and losing Colby Lewis in July didn’t help matters.

Texas found themselves busting on all their moves. Ryan Dempster was acquired from the Cubs, and had a 5.09 ERA for the Rangers. Roy Oswalt was signed as a starter, but eventually ended up in the bullpen—finishing the season with a 5.80 ERA.

Like it has been all season, offense remains the key for Texas. The lineup had one of their worst months of the season in September, but still managed to post a .750 OPS with 44 home runs.

Josh Hamilton was horribly inconsistent down the stretch, which was the opposite of third baseman Adrian Beltre. Beltre capped off one of the best years of his career by hitting .345 with 11 home runs in the final month of the season.

While injuries still have the team hampered, that lineup remains the best in baseball.

Playoff Prediction: Eliminated ALCS

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

The team that made the biggest splash in the offseason, finished their season in disappointment. Though they made a good run at it, the Angels were eventually eliminated from playoff contention.

Consistency, or a lack thereof, hampered the Angels all season long. They would go 8-15 in one month, then 17-9 in another.

Despite their elimination, it was for a lack of trying. Torii Hunter—still seeking that elusive ring—hit .345/.400/.496 in September, with four home runs and 27 RBI. September saw Mike Trout become the youngest 30-40 player in the history of baseball, one steal shy of 30-50.

Pitching remained a strength of LA. While Zack Greinke struggled at first—after being traded from the Brewers—he eventually found solid footing and finished 6-2 with a 3.53 ERA in 13 starts for the Angels.

While their roster seemed solid, it wasn’t enough to overcome shoddy defense and an inconsistent lineup.

Playoff Prediction: Golf


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About Jonathan Irwin

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