Oakland Athletics’ Division Race: Checking In On the Competition

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Jun 15, 2014; Atlanta, GA, USA; Los Angeles Angels center fielder Mike Trout (27) watches as a fan catches a home run by Atlanta Braves right fielder Jason Heyward (not shown) during the seventh inning at Turner Field. The Braves defeated the Angels 7-3. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Los Angeles Angels

Rank: Second – 3.0 Games Back
Record: 44-38
First-Half MVP: Mike Trout, because how can it not be Trout?
Non-Mike-Trout First-Half MVP: Albert Pujols, who has managed to play in 79 games and also hit 25 home runs.

Unlike the Rangers or the Mariners, the Angels have an unusually balanced team. Their offense and their pitching staff both have some weak links, but there are still plenty of reasons for Los Angeles fans to be excited.

Trout powers the lineup, batting .299/.393/.575 with 21 home runs. He’s played in every game, made plenty of stellar plays, and he’s (unsurprisingly) still probably the best player in baseball. Pujols is backing him up with an .894 OPS and 53 RBIs, unlike last season when he missed considerable time due to injuries.

But the two of them aren’t the only contributors to the offense. Erick Aybar and Johnny Giavotella are performing well, and Kole Calhoun has looked strong. The weak links are mostly at third base and catcher, where David Freese and Chris Iannetta have both struggled to perform at the plate.

In terms of pitching, Garrett Richards and C.J. Wilson have been the story. Wilson has posted a 3.82 ERA with 93 strikeouts, going 7-6, while Richards has just a 3.35 ERA and a 9-5 record. The two do what they can to make up for the rest of the struggling rotation, as Matt Shoemaker has a 4.91 ERA, and Jered Weaver‘s has ballooned to 4.75 with just 49 strikeouts in nearly 97 innings. The two have combined for an 8-15 record, which is really hurting the team.

If the Angels can acquire a pitcher and some offensive help at either third base or catcher, they could be a true threat in the division. As it stands, they just have to hope that Trout, Pujols, Richards and Wilson will carry them to the pennant.

Next: Division Competition: Houston Astros