On Saturday night the Angels could move 1 1/2 games behind Texas
Here are the five realistic reasons that the Angels will surpass the record of the Rangers to make the 2011 Playoffs.
The battle for the American League West Pennant will not be easily decided. The Rangers are stacked offensively and filled pitching gaps that make them a formidable team. Begin this slideshow to find out why the Angels are up to the Texas-sized challenge.
At age 20 Mike Trout is the biggest prospect in baseball
When the Angels play Mike Trout, they win more often than not by a noticeable margin. His speed is second only in untested theory to the sophomore Peter Bourjos.
In just two months in the majors, Trout has put his potential on display with home run power and extra base agility. Trout allows Torii Hunter to focus on his swing as the designated hitter and reduce outfield gaps for opposing teams.
Peter Bourjos displaced two Gold Glove-winning outfielders in Torii Hunter and Vernon Wells. He will not be sliding over any time soon. Peter Bourjos has tracked down balls that most outfielders would have no business trying to stay in front of, ranging from left to right. Angels fans have something exciting to watch when fly balls head for the fence this season because of his plus speed in center field.
Offensively, Bourjos has improved greatly, having seen many pitchers the second time around. His discipline has gradually built his consistency into a reliable hitter. Coming into September 10th Bourjos has nine triples and is hitting .276.
Mark Trumbo is a powerhouse surprise to everyone (except Angels scouting directors) who has repeatedly given respite to the Kendrys Morales catastrophe. With 26 home runs and 80 RBI, Mark Trumbo leads all rookies and has secured his first base position with the Angels for years to come.
The Texas Rangers have plenty of power but lack unique role players that prevent errors and extend at bats. Players like Ian Kinsler and Mike Napoli deliver hits but also are costly defenders which will be exploited down the stretch run of September.
Scott Downs in 2011 kept the Angels close to the Rangers
Fernando Rodney has been weeded out of key moments for the Angels and relievers including Bobby Cassevah and Scott Downs. The aside of Rodney has created opportunity for Cassevah to bring short starts to Scott Downs, who sets up American League Rookie closer Jordan Walden.
Scott Downs has been the most valuable relief pitcher to the Los Angeles Angels. Scott Downs carries a record of 6-2 and an impeccable 1.37 ERA. The lefty has been crucial to keeping the Angels close to the Rangers in the standings. He has the veteran understanding of what needs to be done to hold scores and help the Angels win games down the stretch, already appearing in 52 games with no signs of slowing.
The recent development of Bobby Cassevah has been a welcome surprise, giving up only 10 runs in 22 games. Cassevah looks to be gaining control and strategic approach to facing major league hitters, who are hitting just .213 against him.
Jordan Walden has blown a lot of saves but has recorded a handful of wins, recovering without giving away games. As a rookie he is in an immersed environment which is bringing his skill set up to speed and he has tremendous upside. His high heat is no easy target since he developed his slider to keep hitters guessing.
When Jered Weaver shows emotion it means something
Take your pick of the Angels' top three and you have a quality start in the making. Had the Angels been more productive, these three might combine for 15 more wins. Regardless of run support these three starters have each been brilliant this year.
Jered Weaver (16-7, 2.44 ERA) has extended his contract and will be the ace for the Halos for years to come. He has struck out 187 batters and led the year in 2010-2011. Weaver mixes pitches and locations with brilliance and has shown emotion this year when motivated to remind everyone when his inner competitive nature has risen to the surface.
Dan Haren (14-8, 3.20 ERA) complements the staff perfectly. Hesitation in his delivery is a deceptive tool to mask his two-seam fastball. Haren can strike out batters or induce fly outs on a whim. He has given up only 28 walks and 17 home runs in 208 innings of work.
The no-hitter by Ervin Santana (11-10, 3.18 ERA) revamped his season and confidence. His slider and changeup have kept hitters off-balance and given his game a new center. Up to September 10th, Haren and Santana had given up the same number of earned runs at 74 and only one more hit at 188. This comparison shows the increase in performance of Santana in 2011.
Seeing as the Angels and Rangers will face off for a three game showdown to end the regular season, it is a huge benefit for the Angels to have three red hot pitchers on the mound. These three will delight the home crowd and bring their very best to the mound to pass the Rangers and jump into the playoffs.
Bobby Abreu and Torii Hunter have been a part of five American League West winning teams over the past seven years. These two know what it takes to be there and win when it counts. The Rangers won their first pennant since 1999 last year and faltered in the World Series.
Vernon Wells was not a part of those teams but came to the Angels to win. If he can lend his bat to the cause and continue to hit home runs he may be a helpful asset down the stretch. His batting average has been disappointing but his power has been present and will be needed to drive in runs.
It's very simple in the American League West. Everything in the next two weeks is about posturing for position. The final three games will determine the American League West winner.
For the reasons in this slide show I feel the Angels will underdog the Rangers and swoop into the top position in the division in the final weekend.
A walk-off sacrifice by Maicer Izturis on September 9th reminded baseball fans that role players step up to the occasion. In that department the Angels are stacked for timely hitting down the stretch. Erick Aybar, Howie Kendrick, and Torii Hunter have all contributed in clutch situations this year and are scattered through the lineup.
Home field advantage and the guidance of Mike Scioscia will be big boosters in the series. Texas showed their capability to collapse when giving back a seven game lead in August.
Do not be surprised to see the Angels surprise the pundits by rising to the occasion of a strong finish, stealing the AL West from the Rangers in 2011.