The Los Angeles Angels are the second-best team in the AL West… and the second-best team in baseball.
Of course, that's according to basic math. "Best" is up for debate otherwise, but the Oakland Athletics and the Angels are one and two in the searing, guileless eyes of wins and losses.
The team that comes out on top not only gets to run through the AL West ribbon, but will also buy itself a much wider margin for error in the postseason.
The winner of the AL West will have a much, much better chance at making a deep run into the playoffs.
If things stay as they are now, the A's will finish with about 97 wins and, of course, the division title. The Angels will win around 94 and secure a Wild Card spot. No big deal, right? They'll both get in. Where's the injustice?
There isn't any, really. That's just the way things are, but the winner of the AL West will have a much, much better chance at making a deep run into the playoffs because of the format of the tournament. The two Wild Card teams will face off in a one-game series for the right to play the winner of the AL West—unless something changes drastically.
What would compound the complexity of the division is the fate of the Seattle Mariners. They are currently one game behind the Detroit Tigers for the second Wild Card. If things shake out just right—which includes an astronomical number of factors—the second- and third-place teams in the West could be vying for a chance to play the pennant winner in a proper series.
Of course, the searing eyes of win percentage will have to fix on them, but a good hint that they might have shot is another set of eyes. They belong to Pythagoras—or they did belong to him, he's been dead for two and a half millennia.
Anyway, the A's, Angels, and Mariners hold the top three Pythagorean win-loss records (a team's expected record according to their run differential) in the American League. According to the old Ionian, the Mariners have been the unluckiest team in the AL this season. Maybe if the two percentages syncretize to some extent, the M's will get a chance to bust up the MLB duopoly at the top of their division.
It could prove to be the AL West's most intriguing playoff race since the dawn of the Wild Card era 20 years ago. After all, although the Angels and A's have the best two records in the game, the M's have the most head-to-head wins (14) out of the three teams—and in a one-game tilt Felix Hernandez could very well send the second-best team in the game packing before any actual series take place.
So, the Mariners might be fighting for their playoff lives, but the A's and the Athletics' chase for the pennant is, more practically and perhaps more impactfully, an attempt to fend off a nine-inning coin flip that could easily end an otherwise successful season.