The American League West has been one of MLB’s most competitive divisions in 2015, as three teams have a legitimate chance to win the title. The Houston Astros sit in first place after 108 games, but the Los Angeles Angels and Texas Rangers are also in competition for the AL West crown.
No AL division has ever claimed both wild-card spots, but it’s not out of the question for that to happen this year. The AL West is one of three divisions with three teams that have a .500 record or better.
Below is a look at how each team might finish the 2015 MLB regular season, as well as their betting odds to win the division.
Houston Astros (60-48, -250 AL West Odds)
After missing the playoffs for a decade, the Astros are ready to end their postseason drought. With a three-game lead over the Angels and a four-game edge over the Toronto Blue Jays, who own the second wild-card spot, Houston has a legitimate chance to reach the World Series.
The Astros are the most well-rounded team in the division, ranking third in the AL in ERA (3.56) and fourth in OPS (.742). Houston is an even better team than they were a few weeks ago, having added starting pitcher Scott Kazmir and outfielder Carlos Gomez at the trade deadline.
Houston might have the most difficult remaining schedule of any AL West team. Series with the New York Yankees, Los Angeles Dodgers and Minnesota Twins won’t make it easy for them to hold onto their spot in first place, but they are good enough to withstand a tough stretch of opponents.
Rookie Carlos Correa could become one of the AL’s best players over the final two months of the season, and Houston’s trade deadline additions will help them reach the postseason.
Prediction: First place
Los Angeles Angels (56-50, +175 AL West Odds)
The Angels started the season as the favorites in the division, and they’ve been in a battle with the Astros all season long. Losing 10 of their last 12 contests has put them three games behind the Astros for second place, giving them a one-game lead for the first wild-card spot.
Los Angeles has two of the AL’s best players this year in Mike Trout and Albert Pujols, but the rest of the offense hasn’t gotten the job done. L.A.’s .702 OPS ranks ninth in the AL, and only three teams in the league have a worse batting average. It’s been the Angels’ fifth-ranked 3.61 ERA that’s kept them in the playoff hunt.
L.A. has some games left with the likes of the Dodgers and Chicago White Sox, but they control their own fate. With 13 games remaining against the Astros and Rangers, as well a series against the Blue Jays, the Angels have a lot of important head-to-head matchups over the final few weeks of the season.
The Angels' most recent skid has come against the tough part of their schedule, and that might not bode well for the rest of their season. Pujols hit just .224 in July, and the team is in a lot of trouble if he keeps that up.
Prediction: Third place, no playoffs
Texas Rangers (53-53, +1800 AL West Odds)
The Rangers looked like they might be sellers at the trade deadline, but they have a real shot at making the playoffs. Texas has won six of their last seven games, including two wins against the Astros, to put them six games back in the divisional race. Five teams are ahead of Texas in the wild-card race, but they are only two games out of the No.2 spot.
Texas’ offense is one of the best in the AL. The team ranks fourth in runs scored, and Prince Fielder has the second-best batting average in the league. But Texas’ pitching has not been up to par, and only the Boston Red Sox have pitched to a worse mark than the Rangers’ 4.54 ERA. The recent addition of Cole Hamels will improve the team’s staff, though it might not be enough.
Fortunately for Texas, their schedule is more favorable than that of the Astros or Angels. They have 19 total games remaining against the Seattle Mariners and Oakland Athletics, who are a combined 20 games under .500.
Texas still has a below-average pitching staff, but it should improve in August and September. Hamels could be even better now that he’s actually pitching in games that matter, and Colby Lewis has pitched better than his 4.68 ERA might indicate. If the Rangers get a few breaks, ending the year with close to 90 wins isn’t out of the question.
Prediction: Second place, No.2 wild-card spot