MLB State of the Union: The wild, wild West

What is going on with baseball in the West this year? Photo: A's celebrate a walk-off victory/AP Ben Margot

LOS ANGELES, June 17, 2013 — Two of the best divisions with two World Series contenders before the season started have floundered. Neither the Dodgers nor Angels look like teams that are even Wild Card contenders, let alone World Series contenders. Their absence has made the pennant races in their respective divisions a bit lacking in the excitement department.

The dogfight that was expected between Oakland, Texas and Anaheim has yet to materialize. Oakland and Texas, so far, are the only teams to show up. The battle between Los Angeles and San Francisco has turned into San Francisco fans saying, “At least we’re not as bad as the Dodgers.”


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The Oakland and Texas pitching staffs have given up 278 runs, which is good for fifth least runs given up in the American League. Oakland, though, has scored 32 more runs than Texas and hold a three game lead over the Rangers. Oakland third baseman, Josh Donaldson, is one of the five best in all of baseball right now.

Texas is in the midst of a six-game losing streak and have lost eight out of their last ten.

Seattle was not expected to compete for even a Wild Card, but their revamped offense and solid pitching staff was expected to stir up a little more trouble than they have. Felix Hernandez has had a few rough starts recently. Michael Morse, who started hot in spring training and in the early season has been ineffective lately as he has been dealing with various injuries.

You can never find an Angel when you need one and the American League West is no different. The Angels big money acquisitions on offense have thus far floundered. Unfortunately for Anaheim, the sputtering offense is not even their biggest problem.


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The Angels’ pitchers have given up the fourth most runs in the American League. The starters for Anaheim have given up the most runs in the American League. Their relievers have given up the fifth most in the American League.

Anaheim’s defense has a league leading 53 errors on the season. This combined with the fourth worst team ERA has put even more pressure on their sluggish offense to perform.

Houston has given up the most runs in the American League and has scored the third least amount of runs. This has proven to be a potent recipe for failure.

The National league West is in better condition than its American League counterpart. Four out of the five teams are above the .500 mark. Colorado leads the league in runs scored and Arizona is fourth.


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Arizona’s Patrick Corbin/AP Jack Dempsey

Arizona’s atrick Corbin is pitching like a dependable top of the rotation guy. He is 9-0 with a 2.28 ERA and a clean 1.07 WHIP. It remains to be seen if can sustain this unprecedented success of the course of his second season in the majors. Paul Goldschmidt has found his swing and is the midst of a breakout season. He is currently batting .301 with 15 homeruns.

Colorado, San Francisco and San Diego are all within three games of Arizona. San Francisco may have a decision to make on Tim Lincecum. He is having another awful year on the mound as a starter. He was highly effective out of the bullpen during the postseason when the Giants won the World Series. Perhaps, now is a good time to move him back into a reliever’s role.

The one team really dragging down the National League West is the Los Angeles Dodgers. Yasiel Puig is obviously the lone bright spot on a team that was expected to be loaded with them. Adrian Gonzalez, Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier and Hanley Ramirez have been mysteriously sapped of their power. Gonzalez and Ramirez blame previous shoulder surgeries. Kemp and Ethier have only been able to come up with “I don’t know” answers when asked where their power has gone.

The Dodgers pitching has not been much better than their offense. Only Clayton Kershaw can be depended on this year. Zack Greinke has yet to perform up to his standards and has made two trips to the DL this year. When the Dodgers do get a lead, the bullpen cannot be counted on to keep that lead. Brandon League was recently removed from the closer role and the job was given to Kenley Janson.

Both divisions were expected to be a lot stronger this year and a good deal of those expectations were tied to the Dodgers and Angels. There is a lot of season left, but fans in both Los Angeles and Anaheim have to be worried.

On a positive note, both teams should end up with decent draft picks next year if they continue to play like they have been.

Kevin J. Wells writes about Major League Baseball and punk rock music.  Follow him on Twitter @WellsOnBaseball

 


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Kevin J Wells

Kevin J. Wells was born and raised in the Los Angeles area in a town called Montrose.  He currently plays guitar for and is a founding member of the Los Angeles punk rock band Emmer Effer.  He has worked in a number of different career fields including Behavioral Therapy, Commodities, Insurance, and most recently a food cart in Portland, OR. Kevin has been both a sports and entertainment columnist and editor for The Washington Times Communities since January 2013.

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