AL West: Arms Race Is Heating Up

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Can the A's pitching staff keep the club in contention for an entire season?

At 9-9, the Athletics are currently 3rd in the AL West, sitting three games back of the division-leading Angels. So far this season, the AL West looks like a three-team race with the Angels, Rangers, and A’s all vying for the division crown.

During the offseason, A’s GM Billy Beane made several acquisitions during his efforts to upgrade an offense that ranked 28th in home runs in 2010. Guys like Hideki Matsui, Josh Willingham, and David DeJesus were brought on board to help Oakland’s offense support what many consider to be a top starting rotation.

Through the first 18 games of season, however, the A’s offense still lacks power and the ability to hit with runners in scoring position.

The A’s rank 23rd in the majors with runs scored (66), 19th in batting average (.241), 26th in on-base percentage (.306), and 23rd in slugging (.666). Matsui leads the team with 11 RBIs, while Willingham leads the team in home runs with three. DeJesus, meanwhile, is hitting .246 with 7 RBIs.

Oakland’s pitching staff, meanwhile, continues to be the team’s biggest strength. The A’s currently lead the majors in ERA (2.58), and opponents are hitting just .227 against Oakland pitchers.

The AL West, in general, has plenty of quality arms. The A’s have the foundation of yet another “Big Three” with Anderson-Cahill-Gonzalez, while the Angels have a nice duo in Jered Weaver and Dan Haren. The Rangers’ staff isn’t too shabby either, as they currently boast the 9th best ERA in the majors with a 3.42 mark.

If the A’s wish to stand out as division leaders this season, the offense needs to support the A’s young starters. Despite their .500 record, the A’s starters have given the team plenty of chances at winning games, but the offense has been inconsistent with its run support.

That inconsistency will have to change if Oakland wants to stay in the race come September.

Topics: 2011, A's, A's Pitchers, A's Rotation, A's Starting Rotation, AL, AL West, AL West 2011, American League West, Angels, Base On Balls, Brett Anderson, Dan Haren, David DeJesus, Defense, ERA, Hideki Matsui, Hitting, Home Runs, HR, Innings, Jered Weaver, Josh Willingham, MLB, Oakland Athletics, Oakland Coliseum, Pitching, Rangers, RBIs, Runs Scored, Statistics, Stats, Strikeouts, Strikes, Trevor Cahill

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