Oakland A's second-half preview: Favorites to win AL pennant

Verducci's Quick Pitch: Oakland A's

Sports Illustrated's Tom Verducci previews the second half of the MLB season for the Oakland Athletics.

Oakland Athletics

Record: 59-36

Standing: 1st in AL West

Team Leaders:

Batting Average: Coco Crisp, .291

Home Runs: Brandon Moss, 21

ERA: Scott Kazmir, 2.38

The best team in baseball got better when the A's acquired Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel from the Chicago Cubs in the first week of July. The A's have three starting pitchers with ERAs under 3.00. The two starters who don't meet that mark are close: Jason Hammel has a 3.01 ERA, and Jesse Chavez is at 3.14. 

Oakland paid a hefty price for Samardzija and Hammel, indicating the team wants to win now. However, its biggest competition may come from within its own division. The Angels are only a game-and-a-half out of first place despite the A's possessing the best record in baseball. 

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