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Like the Washington Nationals in the National League, the Los Angeles Angels are the standard of excellence in the American League.
When play began Saturday, they led MLB in wins (81) and had a three-game lead over the Oakland A's in the AL West. And let's not forget that Oakland general manager Billy Beane has spent considerable energies overhauling his roster in hopes of finally reaching the World Series.
Alas, it may not matter what Beane does. The Angels are that good.
They had won 17 games in August as of game time Saturday, including four in a row and the first two of a four-game set with the A's at Oakland. They've had four walk-off wins this month and have a realistic chance of reaching 100 victories
And it's not just Mike Trout either.
Albert Pujols is earning his salary, compiling a 148 wRC+ in August. Catcher Chris Iannetta has a .799 OPS and a 134 wRC+ so far this month, and Kole Calhoun has scored and driven in 14 runs, via FanGraphs. That's total team effort on offense.
The bullpen has been lights out to this point in August, with Fernando Salas, Kevin Jepsen and Huston Street all pitching to an FIP below 2.40, per FanGraphs. In the starting rotation, Matt Shoemaker shows no signs of slowing down during an impressive rookie campaign, and Hector Santiago has a 1.93 ERA in five starts this month covering 28.0 innings, per those same splits.
Like the other clubs at the top of their division, the Angels are going to have to finish strong. Once they get to the postseason, though, the rest of the AL is in trouble.
Unless otherwise noted, all statistics, including team rankings, are courtesy of Baseball-Reference and are accurate as of game time Saturday, August 30. Historical standings pulled from ESPN.com. Transaction, injury and game information are courtesy of MLB.com.