These AL West players are quiet contributors
Numbers don’t lie. They just fail to tell the whole truth once in a while.
Players occasionally get saddled with statistics that don’t reflect their true value. An early-season slump or injury could have muted certain figures. Or a team’s overall struggles might have watered down the productivity of an individual who remains a capable performer.
Here’s a look at a player from each American League West club whose effectiveness has been obscured for some reason:
Angels: OF Kole Calhoun
Calhoun has regained his stroke after hitting .194 through March/April. His .232 overall batting average remains uncharacteristically low, but he has demonstrated enviable power with 25 home runs and 21 doubles. Always an asset in right field, Calhoun has recorded six outfield assists. So don’t let his batting average fool you. He remains a productive player.
A’s: RHP Mike Fiers
Fiers has performed better than even his 10-3 record indicates. While his current 3.46 ERA is solid, he belongs in much more elite territory. His 2.42 ERA since April 26 ranks second only to the 2.28 figure that Houston’s Gerrit Cole has posted in that span. If it weren’t for an ugly 8.28 ERA over his first six starts of the year, which included three straight outings of six earned runs allowed, Fiers might be in the conversation for the AL Cy Young Award right about now. Regardless, riding a remarkable streak of 18 consecutive starts in which he's allowed three earned runs or fewer, Fiers is now unquestionably the ace of the staff, something that could not have been fathomed during that poor first month of the season.
Astros: LHP Wade Miley
Miley suffers by comparison to his counterparts in Houston’s starting rotation -- Cy Young Award candidates Justin Verlander and Cole, as well as newly acquired Zack Greinke, himself a potential co-ace. However, Miley (10-4) has no reason to apologize. Not with a 3.05 ERA and a 1.13 WHIP. As left-handers tend to do, Miley remade himself, primarily by using cutters and changeups more frequently. Maybe this puts matters in perspective: The Astros are 18-6 when Verlander starts, 18-7 In Cole’s assignments and 16-7 when Miley starts. Where’s the dropoff?
Mariners: LHP Tommy Milone
Milone owns a 1-6 record in 14 outings, but dig a little deeper and it’s evident that the 32-year-old has been a pretty valuable fill-in since being promoted to replace the injured Felix Hernandez in mid-May. Milone has allowed by far the lowest batting average against any Mariners starter at .235 as well as the lowest WHIP at 1.090, and his ERA of 4.33 is just behind Marco Gonzales’ 4.32 for the best on the staff. Milone also has received the lowest run support of any Mariners starter and has pitched nine games in relief behind an opener, often coming in with runners on base or Seattle already trailing. In short, Milone has pitched much better than his results would indicate and has been a steadying force for the rotation after coming to Seattle on a Minor League deal last winter.
Rangers: RHP Jesse Chavez
As a reliever, Chavez had a 0.84 ERA and a 1.03 WHIP in his last 24 games dating back to May 1 before allowing three runs in his latest outing. The Rangers have tried using him as a starter out of desperation, and he had a 6.00 ERA in nine starts despite a 1.17 WHIP. That inflated his overall ERA, but he is back in the Rangers’ bullpen and generally pitching effectively. He even earned his first save of the season on July 31.