OAKLAND -- The force in the American League West is clearly either the A's or the Rangers.
The team with the advantage depends on the point of view of the analyst.
``They are the team to beat,'' Rangers' manager Ron Washington said of Oakland. ``They are the division champions. I don't expect them to go away. I don't expect us to go away.''
The Rangers lead the A's by one game heading into Monday's first of a three-game set between the two rivals in the Coliseum. The other three teams in the division have gone away, the Angels, the Mariners and the Astros between 15.5 and 34 games out of the division lead.
It will come as no great surprise that Oakland manager Bob Melvin has a somewhat different take on things. Yes, Melvin's team won the division by one game on the last day of the season last year.
However, Texas has a one-game lead now and the Rangers have been the division's dominant team the last four seasons, winning three of the four West titles and appearing in the World Series twice.
``They've been fantastic,'' Melvin said. ``They've won the division twice and played in two World Series. They are the standard.''