LA Angels: Is AL West really competitive, or just mediocre?
With the current MLB schedule now just over two months old, we start to get an idea of who the contenders and pretenders are in each division, and who just might be positioning themselves for the chance to move on in the postseason. Unfortunately, for teams in the AL West, the picture is indeed cloudy, and no one team has done anything to separate themselves from the pack.
The Los Angeles Angels come home after posting a 3-3 record against the Minnesota Twins and Kansas City Royals, two teams who are both under .500. The Angels are literally .500 across the board– 13-13 at home, 16-16 on the road, and 5-5 in their last 10 games. It doesn’t get much more pedestrian in nature than that.
However, they’re not only ones in the AL West suffering from playing average baseball. Only 3.5 games separate all four teams, and aside from a recent run of success by the Seattle Mariners (11 wins in their last 14 games), none of the teams have gone on a run or have stated a case that they’re superior to any of the rest.
The main culprit has been offense. For the Angels, they are now hitting .232 with runners in scoring position, second worst in the league behind their AL West counterpart Mariners. Wednesday’s game with the Kansas City Royals was a perfect example for the Halos.
In the first inning, Erick Aybar led off with a single and stole second before being stranded there. In the third inning, the Angels loaded the bases with no one out. Bobby Abreu struck out and Torii Hunter grounded into an inning-ending double play. They Halos had the bases loaded in the eighth inning with two outs, and Alberto Callaspo was robbed by Alcides Escobar, who dove to his right to make a nice backhanded stop, bounded back up and nailed Callaspo at first by a running step.
The Angels can say they’re hitting the ball hard right at people in those situations, but the fact remains they’re not getting the job done. Wednesday’s gem thrown by Tyler Chatwood (7 2/3 innings, five hits, no runs) was all for naught, just like Jered Weaver’s nine inning shutout performance on Saturday against the Twins.
The Angels will get an infusion of offense when Howie Kendrick returns from the disabled list over the weekend, and Vernon Wells sometime later next week. However, the fact remains that this current group of Halos have done nothing to distinguish themselves in a relatively weak AL West, and with over a third of the season now in the books, the Halos will need to either prove that they are superior with all pieces healthy, or that they’re just another run-of-the-mill team that just treads water.