More than ever before, baseball is a game of numbers. They're everywhere. They're on the scoreboard, they're on the back of players' jerseys, they're spouted off by know-it-alls at the local watering hole, and they're used to define what's good and what's bad in the game.The American League West, host
More than ever before, baseball is a game of numbers. They're everywhere. They're on the scoreboard, they're on the back of players' jerseys, they're spouted off by know-it-alls at the local watering hole, and they're used to define what's good and what's bad in the game.
The American League West, host to a tight race between the Astros and the A's heading into the final 16 games of the regular season, has had plenty of intriguing numbers this season. Here's a look at a number that has defined each team's season in the AL West so far this year:
The number: 14
What it means: An unrelenting wave of injuries played a significant role in zapping the Angels' competitiveness, as they were forced to place 14 pitchers on the disabled list this season. Their starting rotation was hit particularly hard, with Andrew Heaney, Matthew Shoemaker, JC Ramirez, Nick Tropeano, Garrett Richards, Shohei Ohtani and Tyler Skaggs all spending time on the shelf. The repeated blows left the Halos scrambling for depth and forced them to use a franchise-record 36 pitchers this year.
The number: 2
What it means: That's the jersey number of All-Star third baseman Alex Bregman, who's emerged as an AL Most Valuable Player Award candidate and has been the dynamic leader of the defending World Series champion's offense. On Wednesday, Bregman notched his 50th double, 100th RBI and 100th run scored in the fifth inning of a win over the Tigers. He already has 30 homers.
Bregman is the first Astros player to reach 50 doubles in a season since Lance Berkman had 55 in 2001, the seventh Houston player to reach 100 RBIs and 100 runs in a season and the first player in the Major Leagues to hit 30 homers and 50 doubles as well as drive in 100 runs since Jose Pujols with the Angels in 2012.
The number: 14
What it means: The surging A's have used 14 starters in their improbable pursuit of the playoffs, which speaks not just to a widespread injury epidemic plaguing their rotation, but to the unsung work clocked by the front office to ensure there is always a backup plan to the backup plan.
This type of depth, combined with a potent offense and one of the game's best bullpens, has allowed them to stay afloat in the wild, wild West. Midseason additions Edwin Jackson and Mike Fiers have been godsends for a club that will enter October without ace Sean Manaea (shoulder surgery). They've also been helped by veterans Trevor Cahill and Brett Anderson, who have combined for 32 starts in their returns to Oakland.
The number: 54
What it means: It's the number of saves racked up so far by 24-year-old reliever Edwin Diaz, which goes a long way toward explaining how Seattle stayed in the AL playoff chase for most of the season despite having a run differential around -50. The Mariners mastered the art of the close win, and Diaz has been the difference maker in most of them.
Diaz is on pace to challenge the single-season record of 62 saves by Francisco Rodriguez of the Angels, set in 2008, and has already set a new mark for the most one-run saves in a season with 27. Diaz is 54-for-58 in save situations, but even the rare blown saves have wound up being wins. He's entered a game with a lead 63 times this season, and Seattle is 63-0 in those games.
The number: 5.45
What it means: The Rangers' starting rotation holds a 5.45 ERA, the second highest in the AL. Their 47 quality starts are the second fewest in the league. The Rangers are 34-28 when their starters go at least six innings, which says other areas of the team are good enough if the rotation can do the job, too.
The Rangers opened the season with a rotation of Cole Hamels, Doug Fister, Martin Perez, Matt Moore and Mike Minor. Only Minor is still in the rotation. Bartolo Colon, 45, is second in starts and innings pitched and has a 5.55 ERA. The Rangers have a number of concerns and areas that could use improvement. But their starting pitching -- reflected in the bloated ERA -- is the No. 1 reason why they will finish in last place in the AL West.
Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast.