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Sizing up the A’s AL West competition

The American League West has become arguably the most competitive divisions in baseball.

The Oakland A’s are team jockeying for first place, but it won’t be an easy road. Here’s a breakdown of the four other teams.

Los Angeles Angels

The 2015 Los Angeles Angels look very similar to the 2014 team, just with more all-around maturity.

The Angels clinched the AL West title with 98 wins, the team’s third-highest win total in history. Mike Trout won MVP during his worst season to date. Yeah, that’s right.

The Angels also had the most wins over replacement of any team in 2014 and look like they might be even better this year.

And while some lauded the Angels for letting go of second baseman Howie Kendrick, Grant Green is working his way through the minor league system.

Texas Rangers

The Rangers’ 2014 season took a turn for the worst after losing first baseman Prince Fielder. And they’ve already lost their best player for the 2015 season. Pitcher Yu Darvish, who was officially placed on the 60-day DL Sunday. Darvish had Tommy John surgery in March and will not play this season.

Adding to the recipe for disaster is the awful Rangers bullpen. Just awful.

Former manager Ron Washington was once caught smoking in the dugout, and stepped down last season after cheating on his wife. But the team was bad to begin with. And they’re even worse this year.

Seattle Mariners

The Mariners have done a lot of work in the past two offseasons, and are finally a contender.

Felix Hernandez isn’t the only top-tier pitcher in town, joined by Hisashi Iwakuma and Taijuan Walker, both up and comers who help form a very solid rotation.

They’re also protected with hitting, perhaps the biggest difference from passed seasons.

Nelson Cruz and Austin Jackson, both accomplished hitters, who will play with Robinson Cano and Kyle Seager. Yes, Seattle is a major threat to win the division.

Houston Astros

A’s fans used to, and might continue to call Houston ‘the lastros.’ That was fitting in the past, but since their fire sale two years ago, the Astros are formidable.

George Springer has MVP candidacy written on his forehead, a five-tool monster that Houston groomed in their farm system.

Catcher Evan Gattis is a home run threat all day long, and designated hitter Chris Carter is one of the best sluggers in baseball despite his increasing age.

Dallas Keuchel and Colin McHugh are not household names, though the ceiling for both is decent at worst.

Houston may not win the division this year, but they should be watched closely.

Follow @SFBay and @LeskiwSFBay on Twitter and at for full coverage of the Oakland Athletics.

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