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Submitted by Jim Hurley on Friday, May 17, 2013 at 7:00 AM

Adding the Houston Astros to your division is going to automatically reduce the quality of your division to an extreme degree. Houston is a minor league team that will take its lumps this year as they try to rebuild for the future (there is hope for that because their minor league teams are off to a good start this season). What’s surprised many in baseball is how bad the rest of the division is.

Remember as you evaluate the AL West, that those teams have been seeing a lot of Houston!

Let’s run through the group in order of the standings:

*Texas has jumped out to a huge early lead in the division this year. But, they are 5-1 against Houston…and they’ve only played SEVEN of their first 41 games against teams with a winning record! The Rangers have had one of the easiest schedules in baseball…partly because they’re in a collapsing division. Keep that in mind as you handicap this weekend’s huge series with AL Central power Detroit, and over the rest of the summer. Texas is good…and looks to be the best in the West. They’re probably not as good as their current won-lost record is suggesting.

*Oakland was a playoff team last year…and has been second to Texas in the standings this season. It’s easy to think of them as Wildcard caliber if you’re only casually following the sport. But, Oakland enters its weekend series with Kansas City holding a 20-22 record. And, THAT includes a 6-0 record against the Lastros. Oakland is only 14-22 this year when not playing Houston! Had you noticed that? The market seems to have missed the news.

*Seattle is an easy team to figure out. They’re as good as anybody when Felix Hernandez or Hisashi Iwakuma is pitching (and we mean anybody in baseball, with a combined 12-6 record in games started by those two). But, they’re basically a .333 team with the rest of their beleaguered rotation. Seattle has a losing record against Houston! Imagine Houston with two All-Star caliber starting pitchers, and that’s close to what Seattle is.

*Los Angeles is off to another disappointing start. At least we saw them rebound from something similar last year. They do have plenty of offensive pop. The starting pitching lacks starpower (at starpower salaries), and needs to pick up the pace for the team to make a run at .500. The Angels entered their four-game set with the Chicago White Sox sitting at 15-25 overall, 3-3 vs. Houston. So…they’ve been even with a disaster and 12-22 vs. everyone else.

*Houston is 11-30 entering their weekend set in Pittsburgh. It’s easy to forget that’s now an Interleague game. It used to be a divisional game! Some skeptics thought Houston might have trouble reaching 55 wins this season. They’re currently on pace for only 45…even while playing a lot of games in the sports most disappointing division. They’re 7-5 against Seattle and LAA, 4-25 vs. everyone else.

Handicappers have big money already this year fading the Angels, playing the Mariners properly, and recognizing the general woes of this division. Oddsmakers have been very slow to react (particularly to the Angels), and have a history of respecting payrolls too much when making lines at the expense of actual baseball talent.

 

Here’s who the AL West teams are playing this week:

Texas hosts Detroit in a MARQUEE MATCHUP that will be heavily televised

Oakland hosts sneaky sleeper Kansas City

Seattle visits Cleveland

LA Angels host the Chicago White Sox in a return bout from last weekend

Houston is in Pittsburgh

If YOU want to join the fun in this sport, hook up with JIM HURLEY’S NETWORK! You can purchase daily picks or seasonal service here at the website with your credit card. If you have any questions, call us in the office at 1-800-323-4453. Don’t forget to check on Saturday’s Preakness Stakes when you call.

Be sure you’re with us DAILY here in the NOTEBOOK so that you’re staying on top of handicapping developments in baseball and the NBA Playoffs. Oddsmakers continue to struggle with their pricing in the NBA! And, get the best plays on the board every night from the exclusive TEAM HANDICAPPING approach of JIM HURLEY’S NETWORK!

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