Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim v Oakland Athletics
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AL West: A race to 85 wins

For years, the American League West has been a powerful division. While the Seattle Mariners have long been out of the playoff picture, the Los Angeles Angels, Oakland Athletics and Texas Rangers have been regulars throughout the last 15 years. The Houston Astros are the new kids on the block.

This year, it seems the division is going to be down, despite prognostications of a big year for a few of the clubs. While most expected this to be a last-place season for Texas – and it will be – this was supposed to be a group which could produce at least two, perhaps even three postseason qualifiers in the mediocre American League. Instead, it appears the West will have to be won, with each club having major issues.

The Mariners are sitting at 15/1 to win the World Series, with Los Angeles at 18/1 and Oakland at 30/1, per Vegas Insider.

Seattle was the odds-on favorite for many to reach the World Series, something the club has not done since it was first created in 1977. The Mariners are off to a 6-9 start, tied with the Rangers for the league’s worst record outside of the Cleveland Indians. Seattle has gotten great production from Nelson Cruz, the big slugger it signed in the offseason, but it has not manifested itself into team success. Cruz is hitting .328 with eight homers and 15 RBI, all team highs.

The pitching staff has been terrible, though, led by Hisashi Iwakuma and Taijuan Walker. Iwakuma has a 6.61 ERA in three starts, but looks like Cy Young compared to Walker. The stud prospect has pitched like anything but, allowing 15 earned runs in 12 2/3 innings, compiling a grizzly 10.66 ERA.

Then there are the A’s. Oakland has actually gotten great production from the middle of its order in Stephen Vogt and Billy Butler, who combine for seven homers and 26 RBI. Each hold a spot in the league’s top 10 for slugging percentage, on-base percentage and average, but the rest of the group has been middling. Brett Lawrie is making the Josh Donaldson trade look beyond horrific, striking out 23 times compared to two walks. Watching Lawrie swing is to know pain if you root for the A’s. Unfortunately for them, he swings at everything.

The pitching has been up and down, although Sonny Gray and Scott Kazmir have both been sublime, together sporting a 4-0 mark with ERA’s under 2.00. Youngster Jesse Hahn has also been good, but the team sits at 8-9 thanks to some bullpen blunders and a hit-and-miss offense.

Finally, the Angels are a rough group offensively. Los Angeles has the best player in baseball with Mike Trout and a first-ballot Hall of Famer in Albert Pujols, but beyond that? David Freese and Matt Joyce splitting clean-up duties. Yikes. Garrett Richards has returned, so things are looking up on the mound. However, Jered Weaver has been uneven and C.J. Wilson is anything but reliable.

The conclusion to draw from all this? The AL West is going to be a tight, flawed race.

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