Can Angels catch Rangers in AL West?

Editor's note: Throughout August, ESPN.com will take a close look at various teams in the hunt for a playoff spot to assess whether they have what it takes to survive the dog days of August and remain in contention come October.

At the bottom of the page, each team will receive a dog bone rating based on our overall analysis: five bones = serious postseason contender; four bones = good contender; three bones = average contender; two bones = poor contender; one bone = no contender.

Who's the big dog?

Jered Weaver


Jered Weaver isn't just battling Justin Verlander for the AL Cy Young Award, he's having a season for the ages, with a 1.78 ERA and 36 runs allowed in 24 starts.
He's yet to allow more than four runs in a game this season, and he's allowed four just twice. Weaver is going to have to keep this up, however, because the Angels don't score many runs -- they're 13th in the American League, averaging 3.85 per game.

-- David Schoenfield, SweetSpot

Who needs to step up?

The Angels are paying Vernon Wells and Torii Hunter a combined $45.1 million in 2011 -- or more than the entire roster of the Tampa Bay Rays. Wells has 16 home runs, but an abysmal .243 on-base percentage. Yes, that's on-base percentage, not batting average. He's hitting .174 since the All-Star break. Hunter is better, but his .722 OPS is still lower than Alberto Callaspo's.

-- David Schoenfield, SweetSpot

Key stat: defensive runs saved


Defensive runs saved by outfielders this season:

The biggest key to the Angels' season has been their defense, specifically their outfield defense. They have a Gold Glove-winning center fielder in left field (Vernon Wells), a Gold Glove-winning center fielder in right field (Torii Hunter) and a Gold Glove-caliber center fielder actually playing center field (Peter Bourjos).

As a team, Los Angeles is third in the majors in defensive runs saved (30), with Bourjos leading all major league outfielders in defensive runs saved (36) since the start of last season despite playing just 51 games in 2010. In fact, Bourjos leads the AL and Hunter ranks second in defensive runs saved at their respective positions this season.

-- Mark Malzewski, ESPN Stats & Info

Where are they going?

As of today, the Angels are 1.5 games behind the Texas Rangers for first place in the American League West. More remarkable is that the Halos are this close to first despite allowing [Jeff] Mathis -- and his .495 OPS -- to bat 220 times so far this season.

It's hard to overstate just how poor a hitter Mathis truly is. For his career, he has a .197 batting average in 1,299 plate appearances. According to Baseball Reference, there have been just three others players in history to amass 1,300 PAs while batting below the Mendoza Line, and two of them, Mike Ryan and Ray Oyler, played much of their careers in the 1960s, arguably the most pitcher-friendly era in baseball history.

For more of Matt Meyers' analysis, click hereInsider .