Yes, I realize that it's only June, we're not ev..."/> Yes, I realize that it's only June, we're not ev..."/>

The Angels Have Won The West


Yes, I realize that it’s only June, we’re not even to the All-Star Break yet and there’s still a lot of baseball to play.

But come on – there’s no way the Halos can be caught now.

The Mariners just fired their manager, John McLaren, in the midst of the worst season in baseball. The Rangers, though they have some great players (Hamilton, Bradley), have no chance of winning this division. And though any A’s team that has Billy Beane as their GM scares me, let’s face it – they have played way over their heads, and do not present a real challenege to the Angels. So my message to the Angels is this – please don’t screw this up.

Like death and taxes, the Halos winning the AL West Division title for the fourth time in the last five years is just about as guaranteed as you can get. Right now, the Angels are 3 games in front of the A’s, 7 games in front of the Rangers and they lead the Mariners by 17.5 games. They own the best road record in baseball, three All-Star caliber starting pitchers and one of the best defensive teams in the game. It’s hard not to be excited as an Angels fan.

The Angels haven’t been on fire recently, but in the midst of a 4-6 record in their last 10 games, they have maintained the third best record in the AL and the offense is showing small glimpses of coming around. Vladimir Guerrero is finally starting to heat up, hitting .417 in June. Chone Figgins and Howie Kendrick are back and making things happen with their bats, and Erick Aybar, who was hitting very well through the first month of the season, returned to the lineup Wednesday night. As soon as the Halos can figure out how to solve their OBP woes and start scoring runs, this team should be one of the best, if not the best team in baseball. And they are anchored, of course, by their pitching.

Angels’ pitching has been absolutely fantastic this year. Joe Saunders and Ervin Santana have been All-Star caliber throughout the entire season, and John Lackey has returned to dominant form, going 4-1 with an absurdly low ERA of 1.73 and 39 strikeouts in 52 innings. Francisco Rodriguez has been the best closer in the game this year, earning 28 saves in 30 chances. He’s being set-up by one of the best set-up men in baseball, Scot Shields, who’s been an animal on the mound this year. Shields has a record of 3-1, an ERA of 2.25 and also has 24 strikeouts in 28 innings of work this year. And that’s not to mention guys like Jose Arredondo and Darren O’Day, who have also performed very well this season.

The Angels’ defense has been a bit of a surprise this season, but in a good way. The infield has looked great, committing only 4 errors between the 4 regular players of Kotchman, Kendrick, Izturis and Figgins. If you add in the errors by catchers Jeff Mathis and Mike Napoli and the errors by shortstop Erick Aybar, the infield has still only committed 19 errors in 73 games. The outfield, though, is the biggest surprise. The Halos’ outfielders has been absolutely outstanding this year, committing only 1 error all season. Guerrero, Anderson and Hunter have all gone errorless this season, and Matthews Jr. has only 1 error all year. With Kotchman saving countless runs at first base and the rest of the defense performing so well, it’s no wonder that the Angels have been winning so many games while not scoring too many runs.

The AL West has become the Angels’ division to lose. There are still a lot of games to be played, and anything is possible in the game of baseball. But if things continue as they are, the Angels will be hoisting another division title banner come September. If they can figure out how to put together a consistent offense, we could very well watch this Angels team lift up a World Series trophy in October.