ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Jim Bowden, former Reds and Nationals GM and now anaylst for ESPN, wrote a column on Monday saying the Angels will win the AL West. He lists a bunch of reasons. You can read the entire article here, but here are some of his reasons for picking the Angels (I disagree and will get into that later this week):
1. The Angels have the best three top-of-the-rotation starters of the two teams, and an overall rotation of starters who have a better history of piling up important late-season innings. The Rangers, however, will have at least three starting pitchers who will throw more innings this year than they ever have.
Their effectiveness in late September will have to be watched, monitored and proved on the mound. The Rangers have been trying to prepare for this by building up their bullpen depth with the intent of shortening their starters' outings and protecting innings six through nine. This is a sound strategy if their starters can make it to the at least the sixth or seventh inning each night.
2. Despite having three catchers hitting below the Mendoza Line in Jeff Mathis, Hank Conger and Bobby Wilson, they are all terrific at executing game plans, putting down the right fingers and framing pitches.
3. Their outfield defense of Torii Hunter in right, Peter Bourjos in center and either Mike Trout or Wells in left give them the best outfield range in the division. Fly balls that are doubles against most other outfields are caught in the gaps. Both Bourjos and Hunter could win Gold Glove Awards this year. Trout and Bourjos can run balls down like no one else.
4. Erick Aybar, Howie Kendrick and Alberto Callaspo have all matured and understand their roles and do the little things to win games.
5. Trumbo is in the running for rookie of the year, leading all rookies in home runs (25) and RBIs (77).
6. Rookie closer Jordan Walden has given up just one run since July 26.
7. Mike Scioscia is one of the game's best managers, and his ability to develop this young team over the past two years has been special to watch. This team plays the game the way it’s supposed to be played. They have a nice blend of youth and veterans who play well together. They’re the dark horse, the underdog, the blue-collar grinders.
He adds the Angels have an easier schedule going forward, though I could make a case that the Rangers have a slight edge down the stretch (12 games against Oakland and Seattle for Texas starting this weekend) and believes their pitching will carry them.
I still think the Rangers will hang on to the lead spot. They do need more from their starting pitchers, but I think the schedule and the bats will be enough to get them to the finish line.
Do you agree with Bowden's reasons?