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— Where BTF's Members Investigate the Grand Old Game
Friday, May 23, 2003
Bi-Weekly Review: A.L. West
The A.L. West through May 20th.
American League West Standings - Through May 20 (Previous Update May 5)
May 20 At Last Update Since Last Update ------------------------- ------------------------- ----------------- Team W L Pct. GB W L Pct. GB W L Pct. Str Seattle 29 15 .659 - 20 11 .645 - 9 4 .692 W 5 Oakland 27 17 .614 2 19 12 .613 1 8 5 .615 W 2 Anaheim 22 21 .512 6.5 13 17 .433 6.5 9 4 .692 W 1 Texas 20 24 .455 9 14 17 .452 6 6 7 .462 W 4
American League West Pythagorean Standings - Through May 20 (Previous Update May 5)
May 20 At Last Update Since Last Update -------------------------- ------------------- ------------------ Team R RA Pct. Diff R RA Pct. R RA Pct. Seattle 238 173 .647 +.012 159 111 .661 79 62 .619 Oakland 211 151 .648 -.034 148 111 .629 63 40 .694 Anaheim 216 198 .542 -.030 144 145 .497 75 53 .643 Texas 238 274 .428 +.027 165 188 .434 73 86 .416
American League West Team Stats - Through May 20
Team AVG OBP SLG ERA BABIP BABIP Allowed Seattle .278 .359 .441 3.69 .312 .270 Oakland .254 .328 .414 3.13 .276 .249 Anaheim .280 .341 .429 4.33 .298 .288 Texas .272 .342 .471 5.68 .297 .323
Last time out, I said the most common complaint about these updates was the lack of short symbolic plays within them. Since that update, the most common complaint has been the inclusion of such plays. It seems Primates are a fickle bunch. No matter. I’ve sold the movie rights to “The Big Dance” for eight bucks and a Powerball ticket—look for the movie to hit the big screens on Labor Day Weekend.
So little has changed since the last update that I’m going to jump right in to the team coverage.
The Mariners have so far aptly answered doubts about how competitive they’ll be (it seems so far that the Mariners should be rebuilding like Edgar Martinez should be retiring). Seattle currently owns the best record in the American League—second in the majors to the Atlanta Braves. But this is a team that was on top for much of 2002 before a late-season collapse kept them out of a playoffs. So the census of the chickens has been postponed until such time as they have been safely extricated from their eggs.
Freddy Garcia has not been pitching well. Twelve home runs, 24 walks, and 36 strikeouts are not good peripherals for a should-be ace. Personally, I blame the departure of trademate John Halama, whose stabilizing influence—assuming he had such an influence—could quite possibly be how Freddy always held it together before. It’s a theory that certainly can’t be disproved.
The good news for the Mariners is the hitting. Edgar Martinez is hitting .333/.448/.621, so even if the runner behind him has to carry him around the bases, Edgar’s helping the Mariners immensely. Bret Boone’s .305/.382/.569 is fantastic for a second baseman playing his home games at Safeco Field. And Ichiro has begun to come around—in May, he’s hitting .425/.455/.589, bringing his season totals up to .315/.370/.418.
Oakland has won the division title twice in the last three years, and each time, they were two or three games behind the Mariners at the trading deadline. The A’s are the guy that stands behind you in line at the grocery store, and then when a new cashier opens a lane, they rush over there, even though the cashier was looking right at you when he said “I can help you over here.” And while the A’s are out loading their car, you’re still standing there watching the woman in front of you argue about the expiration date on her coupons.
So don’t be deceived by their position in second place.
Cerberus, the three-headed hound of the batters’ underworld. Cerberus is only slightly less scary if you name its heads Mark, Tim, and Barry. Strange: Barry and Mark have K/9 rates of 5.16; Tim’s is 5.13. Those are all lower than their career rates by a pretty good margin. This works in conjunction with Oakland’s awfully low BABIP allowed to possibly make the Big Three look a little better than they’re actually pitching this year. On the other hand, this could also be the work of John Halama’s stabilizing influence.
The problem for Oakland has been Gerberus, the six-headed gerbil of offensive atrophy. The A’s as a whole are hitting .245/.315/.389 in May. The only players who are hitting in May are Miguel Tejada—finally!—at .290/.351/.551, Eric Byrnes (.358/.421/.627), and Chris Singleton (.342/.390/.421).
The Angels seem to have remembered that they’re supposed to be good now. They’ve climbed back above .500 in a successful effort to remain six-and-a-half games out of first. Inspiring.
Troy Glaus has hit .310/.437/.759 in May. That’s good news for the Angels, particularly since Brad Fullmer, who was the driving force of their April offense, has taken great strides to bring his 2003 into line with his career numbers. He’s hitting .178/.302/.200 this month.
Anaheim’s pitching is still pretty shaky, but Jarrod Washburn has been top-notch lately, with a 2.05 ERA for the month. John Lackey’s also been better, striking out 19 and walking one in 23-1/3 May innings, but five home runs have conspired to keep his May ERA at 4.63—still a dramatic improvement over his terrible start.
Texas in the cellar. Seattle in the thick of it. It’s the awesome power of the status quo—will we never cease to doubt it? It’s looking more and more like the Rangers will remain out of the picture for at least another year. Unfortunately for them, even a big surge probably wouldn’t mean much in a division with three competitors.
Carl Everett’s .327/.416/.680 production this season is just one of the highlights of the Ranger offense. Hank Blalock is still at .365/.405/.595. But they’ve slowed as a team, hitting .274/.337/.451 in May as compared to .273/.346/.483 in April.
Run prevention is the problem, of course. Colby Lewis, who had an ERA of 4.45 in April, posted a Columbus-sailing-the-ocean-blue mark of 14.92 in May. The Rangers are wisely trying new things, and one of them is Joaquin Benoit, who’s doing well enough so far with a 4.56 ERA. The pitching staff still needs a lot of work, though.
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