The Oakland Athletics (56-39) lead the American League West by two games at the All-Star Break, following Sunday’s 11-inning triumph over the Boston Red Sox. Bob Melvin’s club has the Texas Rangers (54-41) closely following, while the Los Angeles Angels (44-49), Seattle Mariners (43-52), and Houston Astros (33-61) are all distant trailers.
Sports books list the Athletics as 120 favorites to hold on and win the division, while you can presently pick up Texas at plus 100 MLB odds. Los Angeles is priced at 10/1, with Seattle (150/1) and Houston (1000/1) having faint chances as the group’s darkest horses.
Oakland, Texas – The AL West’s Top Two
Oakland starts off its second half with 10-straight divisional duels, starting with Friday’s trip to Anaheim. The journey continues with three games in Houston, followed by returning home for a four-game set with the Angels.
Athletics starter Bartolo Colon (2.70 ERA) has 12 wins for his club, just behind Detroit’s Max Scherzer and Tampa Bay’s Matt Moore. Oakland’s Josh Donaldson has led his squad in hitting (.310 BA) and homers (16 HRs), while notching a team-high 61 RBIs.
Texas went 1-4 in its last five games heading into the break, falling in road sets with the Detroit Tigers and Baltimore Orioles. Ron Washington’s club has 10 of its remaining 13 games for July being played at home, ending the month with a visit from the Angels.
Rangers outfielder Nelson Cruz has logged 69 RBIs, tying him for fourth in the American League with Detroit’s Prince Fielder. Texas’ Joe Nathan has picked up 30 saves, placing him just behind Baltimore’s Jim Johnson (33).
Los Angeles, Seattle, Houston – The long shots
Los Angeles and Seattle met this past weekend, with the Mariners pulling off a three-game home sweep. The Angels cooled off following a seven-game winning streak at the end of June, while Seattle’s triumph lifted its record to 8-5 over its last 13 contests.
Angels slugger Mike Trout heads into the break with a stellar .322 BA, but it still makes him a distant second in the American League from Detroit’s Miguel Cabrera (.365 BA). Mariners outfielder Raul Ibanez has cracked 24 homers, while starter Felix Hernandez has 10 wins en route to a 2.53 ERA.
Seattle heads to Houston this weekend, followed by finishing up the month with a seven-game home stand. The Mariners notched one stretch of 15-1 over 16 home dates in last summer’s second half, but fell to finish 19 games back with a 75-87 record.
Houston has struggled through most of the season’s start, adjusting in its move to the American League. The Astros’ highlight was June’s improbable four-game road sweep of the Angels, cashing at high prices in each affair.
Bo Porter’s troops are the rightful long shots of the division, finishing the year’s first half with a dismal 3-12 mark over their last 15 games. Houston’s Chris Carter leads his club with 18 homers, while Jose Altuve is the top hitter (.280 BA).
Back Oakland to hold on
I am adding an MLB futures pick on Oakland to capture the division, taking a low-premium price of minus 120.
Colon can be counted on for more wins down the stretch, while the trio of Josh Donaldson, Yoenis Cespedes, and Brandon Moss has done their share of slugging. The Athletics have gone just 4-6 against Texas this year, but seven of the affairs came on the road.
Oakland and Texas went in opposite directions at the end of last season, including an 18-8 surge from the Athletics in their final 26 games. Look for "Moneyball" to prevail again here, giving the A's back-to-back division titles and you, a solid sports pick.
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