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MLB End-of-June Check-in: AL West

The Rangers maintain their lead as Ohtani continues to amaze.

Chicago White Sox v Los Angeles Angels Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

Every day, Pinstripe Alley offers updates on what the Yankees’ top American League opponents are up to through the Rivalry Roundup. The AL East is well-trodden ground there, but with the month of June coming to a close, we’re going to take a peak around MLB as a whole and check in with each of the other five divisions. Who’s surprising? Who’s underwhelming? Who’s simply mediocre at the moment? Read on and find out.

First Place: Texas Rangers (49-32)

Top Position Player: Marcus Semien (3.2 fWAR)
Top Pitcher: Nathan Eovaldi (2.6 fWAR)

June saw the Rangers lose Jacob deGrom to Tommy John surgery, but they continue to be one of the best teams in baseball. They are led by one of the best offenses in the game, scoring the most runs of any team in Major League Baseball this season. Is it possible for a whole team to be hot at the plate? Corey Seager has been on a torrid pace in June, hitting .370 with 24 RBIs and a wRC+ of 199. Not bad. Adolis García continues to hit home runs and while Josh Jung has had a slightly down month, he is still the front-runner for AL Rookie of the Year.

Nathan Eovaldi continues to put together a Cy Young-caliber campaign. He has filled the role of ace with deGrom unavailable and has been an integral part of Texas’s success this season. Jon Gray has also been impressive on the mound, currently sporting a 2.89 ERA with opponents batting .192 against him in the month of June.

Not many people saw this coming from the Rangers at the beginning of the season, but they have become a real force in the AL West.

Second Place: Houston Astros (43-37)

Top Position Player: Yordan Alverez (2.3 fWAR)
Top Pitcher: Framber Valdez (3.0 fWAR)

It’s been a bit of a tough month for the Houston Astros. One big sore spot this season has been the play of Rafael Montero. Following a solid playoff run in 2022, Montero received a three-year, $34.5 million contract, only to sport a 7.76 ERA out of the bullpen this season. He has given up 27 runs in 31.1 innings. The Astros expected him to be a force in the back end of the bullpen but so far it has not panned out that way.

José Abreu was another big offseason signing by the Astros. He got off to a slow start, particularly in the power department, but has rebounded nicely in June. His power has returned in June, adding five home runs to his total after only hitting one in the previous two months of the season. His average this month sits just below .300 and he has a wRC+ of 121 over that span. The Astros are going to need that kind of production from Abreu if they want to keep pace in the West.

The Astros are in the middle of the pack offensively in the American League when it comes to major offensive categories. That is unlike the Astros of recent seasons who have complimented great pitching with a top-tier offense. The Astros’ season moving forward with depend on if they can slug their way to the top of this division.

Third Place: Los Angeles Angels (44-39)

Top Position Player: Shohei Ohtani (3.9 fWAR)
Top Pitcher: Reid Detmers (2.0 fWAR)

It is Shohei Ohtani’s baseball world and we are all just living in it. The front-runner for AL MVP continues to impress, both on the mound and in the box. He is batting just under .400 in the month of June, adding 13 HRs to his league-leading total. He has more RBIs (26) than strikeouts (24) this month. He is also coming off back-to-back pitching performances in which he gave up only one run and collected double-digit strikeouts.

It’s hard to figure out exactly who the Angels are though. This team took three-out-of-four games against Texas earlier this month, only to then be shut out in back-to-back games against the Dodgers the following week. The Angels also had a 25-run game mixed into a series loss to the Rockies. If this team can be a little more consistent, particularly if Mike Trout can find his form again, then maybe we will see the Ohtani-Trout combination finally make the playoffs.

Fourth Place: Seattle Mariners (38-41)

Top Position Player: Julio RidrÍquez (2.2 fWAR)
Top Pitcher: George Kirby (2.3 fWAR)

After a solid May, the Mariners have struggled to find their footing this month. Their pitching has been solid all season, led by Luis Castillo who continues to provide quality outings for this club. The Mariners have four quality starters and a bullpen with one of the better ERAs in the game, so why aren’t they better?

Well, if it is not the pitching then it typically is the hitting. The Mariners are in the bottom half of the American League in team average and OPS over the last month, which has culminated in three straight series losses to the Yankees, Orioles, and Nationals. You have to wonder how long the pitching staff can keep them afloat.

After a strong 2022 season, this team came into the season with lofty expectations that certainly have not been met. Their bats are currently letting them down. Do they become buyers at the deadline? The next month will dictate what resources, if any, the Mariners want to give up to add a big bat to their lineup.

Last Place: Oakland Athletics (21-62)

Top Position Player: Ryan Noda (1.5 fWAR)
Top Pitcher: Paul Blackburn (0.7 fWAR)

It has been an interesting June for the Athletics. The Nevada Legislature approved a bill that would fund a new $1.5 billion stadium in Las Vegas, clearing a major hurdle in what seems like an inevitable relocation of the Athletics franchise. You have to feel for A’s fans, who staged an admirable reverse boycott in support of their team. A week later Manfred sarcastically mocked the fans for their efforts, applauding them for showing league-average attendance for one night, in what felt like a final blow to the A’s in Oakland.

Record-wise, June was the A’s best month of the season, and while they still have the league’s worst run differential by far, their team ERA in June was better than the Diamondbacks and Reds. Small victories in what has been a tough season. Offensively, Tony Kemp is starting to heat up, posting a 163 wRC+ in June. The Athletics are still projected to lose over 100 games this season, but they have shown to be competitive at times this month. Lets just ignore the fact they got a perfect game thrown against them, we don’t need to pile on.