Second Half Preview: AL West

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
What Went Right: Mike Trout has fulfilled his potential quicker than anyone ever imagined, and is the best player in the American League this season. Mark Trumbo can't play defense, but he's showing even more power than he did last year. Jered Weaver and CJ Wilson have pitched like they have over their entire careers, which is excellent. Scott Downs, Ernesto Frieri, and LaTroy Hawkins have been a killer trio in the bullpen.

What Went Wrong: The offense has largely struggled aside for most of the season from Trout and Trumbo. After Chris Iannetta got hurt, the Angels have been awful on offense behind the plate. Vernon Wells and Bobby Abreu have been putrid, which led to Abreu getting released. Ervin Santana and Dan Haren have been incredibly disappointing in the rotation.

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Best Case Scenario: Honestly, the Angels have been clicking on all cylinders after a pathetic start, and are locked in to a playoff spot right now, and are only four games back of the Rangers in the AL West. The Angels can easily just keep moving right along and might even be able to claim the division.

Worst Case Scenario: Mike Trout is powering this team, and if something happens to him (be it an injury or a slump), the team could go downhill. Also, with the state of the rotation right now, the Angels can't afford for anything to happen to Wilson or Weaver.

Key Player: Dan Haren. Haren is on the DL right now with a back injury, but before being placed on the DL, he looked very un-Harenlike. Once he returns, he needs to pitch like the player that he's been for his entire career, and not the enigma that has arose this year. It's been the worst year of Haren's career, and a healthy Haren would give the Angels a huge boost.

Oakland Athletics
What Went Right: Josh Reddick has been amazing since coming over from the Red Sox this offseason. Brandon Moss was a minor league free agent who is second on the team with ten homer in just 26 games. The A's rotation has been pretty good too, led by the resurgent Brandon McCarthy. Oakland's bullpen has largely been good, thanks to Ryan Cook, brought over in the Trevor Cahill trade this winter, and Sean Doolittle, a converted infielder.

What Went Wrong: Veteran reliever Brian Fuentes was terrible, and was released. Yoenis Cespedes has been solid offensively, but terrible on defense in his rookie year. Second baseman Jemile Weeks has struggled, and Coco Crisp has also been pretty bad. High-paid catcher Kurt Suzuki has lost his job to rookie Derek Norris.

Best Case Scenario: The A's trade a couple of bit pieces and acquire some interesting parts in return. It's been a good year so far for Oakland, but they're not going to the playoffs, and they don't have many veterans to trade off, aside from guys like Suzuki, McCarthy, Crisp, Bartolo Colon, and Jonny Gomes.

Worst Case Scenario: Billy Beane makes another Matt Holliday deal in an attempt to go for it this year, and the A's fall flat on their face.

Key Player: Josh Reddick. No one expected this from him, did they? Reddick isn't even struggling in the Coliseum, a pretty solid pitchers park. He's still got FOUR seasons before free agency, and this is a player that the A's could build around if he stays strong in the second half. Possible extension candidate?

Seattle Mariners
What Went Right: Felix Hernandez has taken souls and dropped bodies as he's accustomed to. Kyle Seager and Michael Saunders have blossomed into everyday players. John Jaso is looking like a better long-term option behind the plate than Miguel Olivo (but you knew that already). Veteran Kevin Millwood has had a nice comeback year. Tom Wilhelmsen, Charlie Furbush, and Shawn Kelley have made a pretty nice late-game trio.

What Went Wrong: Most of the Mariners young hitters have taken a step back, including Jesus Montero, Justin Smoak, and Dustin Ackley. The rotation has been awful after Hernandez and Millwood. Ichiro looks just about done as an everyday player. Veterans Chone Figgins and Miguel Olivo have been awful.

Best Case Scenario: The Mariners young offense takes a step forward, and the team is able to determine whether or not they can roll with what they have in the future.

Worst Case Scenario: Felix Hernandez is dealt for an underwhelming package, and none of the litany of youngsters the Mariners have are able to make any significant strides in the second half.

Key Player: Dustin Ackley. In Ackley's 90 game rookie campaign, he had a .765 OPS and looked like he could be a cornerstone player over his career. This season, he's taken a step back due to a 50 point BABIP drop, but his strikeout and walk rates are nearly identical to where they were last year. However, Ackley's ISO has also had a precipitous drop, and that could be worrisome for the future.

Texas Rangers
What Went Right: Josh Hamilton has resumed his career as an awesome power hitter. Adrian Beltre is not only a great hitter, but a great fielder as well, one of the premiere third basemen in the league. Matt Harrison, Yu Darvish, and Colby Lewis (shockingly) have all been two win starters this year. The bullpen has largely been amazing, led by free agent signee Joe Nathan, Robbie Ross, Alexi Ogando, and Mike Adams.

What Went Wrong: Mike Napoli has taken a step back from his outrageous 2011 campaign. Michael Young has turned in a professional, classy .656 OPS this year. Neftali Feliz has missed lots of time with injuries, and Roy Oswalt has struggled in four starts in the majors. Scott Feldman and Derek Holland have been pretty underwhelming in the rotation.

Best Case Scenario: The Rangers acquire one of the top starters on the market without giving up one of their elite prospects, and the team cruises to another AL pennant.

Worst Case Scenario: The team can't recover from injuries to the back-end of the bullpen, and their three best starters all start to struggle late in the year as the Rangers fall to a wild card berth.

Key Player: Neftali Feliz. The reliever turned starter had a decent enough seven start stint in the majors this year, but he had struggles with his control and was placed on the DL with an elbow injury in mid-May. With the Rangers relative glut of starting pitching right now (as effective or non-effective as it may be right now), where will Feliz land when he comes off of the DL? Texas's bullpen has been great this year, and adding someone like Feliz could make it that much better. But at the same time, if you move him back to the bullpen, you probably close the book on him starting for quite awhile. Is that really something that the Rangers want to do with an electric arm like Feliz's?

About Joe Lucia

Joe is the managing editor of The Outside Corner and a contributing author at Awful Announcing. He lives in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, and is stuck somewhere between tolerating and hating Pittsburgh and Philadelphia sports.

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