May 18, 2014; Anaheim, CA, USA; Los Angeles Angels first baseman Albert Pujols (5) high-fives teammate Howie Kendrick (47) after hitting a solo home run in the first inning against the Tampa Bay Rays at Angel Stadium of Anaheim. Mandatory Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

Around the West: LA Angels Greatest Threat to Athletics

Welcome to another edition of “Around the West” where we take a look at the AL West and how it all affects the Oakland Athletics.

So far, Oakland is sticking true to their shirts from last year, they are “the best in the west”. They are currently still in first place, where they have spent a lot of time this season so far. They have had sole possession of 1st place all month long, and even had about half of April there, whether it was alone or sharing it with the Seattle Mariners or Texas Rangers.

Let’s take a look around west!

Houston Astros – 5th Place (17-28)

The Houston Astros may be in last place, but they are playing some good baseball right now. They have won 5 of their last 7 games, and won 3 in a row before losing the Angels last night. they are actually playing better baseball than the Texas Rangers and Seattle Mariners in their last 10 games, going 6-4 while the Rangers are  3-7 and the Mariners are 4-6.

That may not seem like much but it is good sign for a cellar dweller team. It shows that they are on their way to improvement. The Houston Astros also gave the Athletics a helping hand when they defeated the LA Angels  5-2 two nights ago, giving the Athletics a 4 game lead over the 2nd place LA Angels.

Right now the Houston Astros are  playing good baseball is a huge helping hand to the Athletics, because they are playing the Angels right now. The Astros are not contenders, so any time they beat a team that isn’t the Athletics it’ll help the Athletics out.

How long will their good run last? Who knows. But as long as they cool off before they play the Athletics again, the green and gold will benefit from a good Astros team right now.

Texas Rangers – 4th Place (21-23)

The Texas Rangers can’t get any luck against injuries. They have lost parts of their rotation as well as their offense. The latest injury is to Prince Fielder, who has a herniated disk and received a shot in hopes of using that as a quick remedy to get him back quickly. The Rangers currently sit 8 games behind the Athletics, and are putting themselves in quite the hole.

Right now the Rangers are not a threat. They still have a chance, but they will have a tough mountain to climb back to the top of the standings when they begin to get their players back, like Derek Holland and Geovany Soto. Until then, however, the Rangers need to stay afloat.

If the Rangers can stay around .500 heading into the All-Star break, they can still have a good chance at winning the division, but they would need to really heat up, and we all know how much better the Athletics do in the second half than the first. Especially in the home run department.

Right now, the Texas Rangers are not a threat to the Athletics and really have no impact on the team. That doesn’t mean things can’t change later on. For now, they are on the back burner, not a major threat at all.

Seattle Mariners – 3rd Place (21-22)

The Seattle Mariners made sure the Athletics did not start the month of May off with a good start, taking 3 of 4 against the Athletics in the O.co, evening the season series at 5-5. They also came within 1 win of 1st place, but Drew Pomeranz made sure to keep the Athletics afloat.

Since then, the Mariners have not had that much luck against their other opponents. They are now at .500, and have fallen to 3rd place, 6 1/2 games behind Oakland.

The Mariners are not a major threat at the moment either, as they are going through a slump. They may recover and go on a good run, and may come close to 1st place again.

Just like the Rangers, however, they will need to heat up and make a good run before they are left in the dust. With Hisashi Iwakuma back, the team should be able to gain some sort of momentum at some point throughout the season. Right now though, they join the Rangers on the back burner, at least until they begin to heat up.

Los Angeles Angels – 2nd Place (24-20)

The LA Angels are by far right now the biggest threat to the Oakland Athletics. They are in second place and they are playing some really good baseball right now. While the rest of the division is falling behind, the LA Angels are staying afloat and are breathing down the Athletics necks. Now it may seem like 4 games isn’t close, and it isn’t. But they are still breathing down the Athletics necks because they are winning. A lot.

If the Athletics didn’t go 9-1 in their last 10 games, the Angels would be 1 or 2 games back instead of 4. They are breathing down their necks, because the statement that the LA Angels are making to the Athletics right now is this; lose a game and we’ll be there to catch up. They are showing the Athletics that this season is different. They won’t underperform, they won’t have a repeat of 2012 and 2013. This year they have caught on, and they are ready to return to the postseason.

Right now, the LA Angels are the biggest threat to the Oakland Athletics. The Athletics may be hot right now, but the Angels have some heat of their own.

Oakland Athletics – 1st place (28-16)

The Oakland Athletics are in the middle of a very hot streak, winning 10 of their last 11 games. They are showing that they belong in 1st place, and that they are the AL West champions. They are either at the top or at least in the top 5 in a lot stats, such as 2nd in the majors in ERA, 2nd in total runs scored, 1st in Batted Average Against, and 1st in WHIP. With both the offense and the pitching clicking at the same time, the Athletics have the best run differential in the majors with +95. Right now, the Athletics seem like they can take on just about anyone.

Tags: AL West Oakland Athletics

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