Vol. 1: AL West Weekly Wrap-Up
Here at Baseball Hot Corner some of the writers are starting a new weekly series, a wrap up of the state of each division. Each writer will nominate a position player of the week, pitcher of the week, team-by-team recaps and power rankings for their chosen division.
This is the first editition of the AL West Weekly Wrap-Up which you will be able to find here on BHC every Monday throughout the entire season.
The Texas Rangers opened their season at the home of the Oakland Athletics, O.Co Coliseum on Monday April 6 at 7.05 pm. The Los Angeles Angels started the season off at Safeco Field, facing off with the Seattle Mariners. The Houston Astros opened the season at home against the AL Central’s Cleveland Indians.
The Astros are on the rise in the AL West but are still predicted to finish fourth, although that really means nothing this early on in the season. They’ve got a very good top of their rotation with Dallas Keuchel, Collin McHugh and Scott Feldman, each of the three pitchers has an ERA well under 2.00. Keuchel has pitched 14 innings this season and has an ERA of just 1.29. Plus, the have Jose Altuve who is a hitting and base-stealing machine. The Astros lost two of three from Cleveland to start the season but came back to win their series against the Rangers two games to one. The team is getting closer to being contenders but they don’t seem to be quite there yet.
Los Angeles Angels
The Los Angeles Angels are going through a lot right now and while that doesn’t excuse their 2-4 record, the drama caused by the higher-ups in the organization, namely the GM, club president and team owner, have to have taken a toll on the team. Obviously I am referring to how the Angels have been handling the situation with outfielder Josh Hamilton. It’s made the team’s number one starter C.J. Wilson uncomfortable enough that he said as much publicly. Wilson however, has still performed fairly well so far in 2015. He’s pitched the most innings of any pitcher on the team as well as has the lowest ERA of any of the Angels starters. Unfortunately, his ERA is a relatively high 3.95 but it definitely beats his teammates like Jered Weaver, Matt Shoemaker and Hector Santiago who all have ERA’s in the 4.00-8.00 range. That does not spell success for the Angels. Albert Pujols and regining AL MVP Mike Trout have been the only big offensive contributors thus far. Pujols leads the team with two homers and Trout is batting .400 with a .458 on-base percentage. Still, even with those two players stepping up, the outlook doesn’t look great for the Angels coming out of the first week of the season. However, that can always change so they are still a team to watch.
The Athletics played much better than their record reflects. They took two of three from the Texas Rangers while scoring 26 runs over their four game series, winning three games. During the A’s series with the Mariners they scored 23 runs over the three game series, only just barely losing two of the three games in extra innings each by just one run. On Sunday the A’s rallied for four runs in the bottom of the ninth inning to tie the game, only to lose when Tyler Clippard gave up a solo shot to last year’s home run champion Nelson Cruz. The Athletics have a +17 run differential right now and Billy Butler is leading the division in batting average and on-base percentage. They are certainly better than their 3-4 record suggests.
The Seattle Mariners are probably the best team in the division right now, although it took them a lot of work and two extra inning games to defeat the Athletics two games to one. I wouldn’t say that the two are all that far apart. Of course the Mariners have a validated pitching staff in Felix Hernandez, Hisashi Iwakuma, J.A. Happ and James Paxton. When you add Taijuan Walker, who needs a little more big league experience, to that list you have a force to be reckoned with. They’ve got incredible hitting in Nelson Cruz, Robinson Cano and Corey Seager to name a few. They took care of the Angels and worked hard to defeat the Athletics. They are the better team right now but as we know, that is always subject to change.
While the Rangers may have the same record as the Athletics in the AL West, their outlook is not quite as bright as the kids from the East side of the San Francisco Bay. Only Nick Martinez showed promise as a starter not allowing a hit in 7.0 innings pitched. They lost their ace Derek Holland (who was already taking over for their injured ace Yu Darvish who is recovering from Tommy John surgery) and the team has sustained an exorbitant number of other long-lasting injuries. Darvish could be out until July and even outfielder Ryan Rua, who broke up Sonny Gray‘s Opening Day no-hitter, is headed to the disabled list. This is just the tip of the iceberg for the Rangers. Their record may not seem bad now but unless some major changes are made and fast, things look likely to go downhill from here.
Position Player of the Week: Billy Butler – .407 BA, 11 Hits, 2 RBI, .467 OBP
Pitcher of the Week: Sonny Gray – 15.1 IP, 1-0, .059 ERA, 7 K
1. Seattle Mariners 3-3
2. Oakland Athletics- 3-4
3. Houston Astros- 3-3
4. Los Angeles Angels- 2-4
5. Texas Rangers – 3-3
Don’t forget to check back every Monday for updates on your favorite division! The BHC writers will bring you a summary of EVERY division each week!