The Angels have toiled away for quite some time now. Despite having the best player in the game and possibly the best ever, they’ve struggled to be successful and haven’t reached the playoffs since 2014. Things should be different this time around.
Key Additions: José Iglesias, Raisel Iglesias, Álex Claudio, Kurt Suzuki, José Quintana, Dexter Fowler
Key Subtractions: Andrelton Simmons
We’ve been hearing for some time now that the Angels are on the brink of something big. They’ve continually tried to surround Mike Trout with talent but it hasn’t worked. The pitching staff fell apart year after year mostly due to injury, they signed bad contracts like Justin Upton, Albert Pujols, and Zack Cozart, and they’ve missed out on having Ohtani at full strength thanks to needing Tommy John surgery. Every year people expect this team to finally put it all together but they never do. With that being said, I think this is the year they do it.
The additions this team has made over the years (Rendon, Ohtani) to go along with what they added this offseason makes me think this could be the year. José replaces Simmons for equal value at short while this team gets better with the added depth. Adding Raisel Iglesias to the mix is big and may end up being one of the best moves of any team this winter. He’s been a well-above-average reliever for the majority of his career and was acquired for essentially nothing. I think the Quintana acquisition is a big get as well as he looks to bounce back after a poor 2020 showing. The Colombian lefty fared much better when not playing for the Cubs and that gives me optimism about him in L.A.. The other additions aren’t mind-blowing, but they’re good moves. This team has all the stars they need. It’s just been about depth and that’s what they were able to acquire when preparing for the upcoming season.
All eyes are going to be on Ohtani entering 2021. He was pegged to be a legend entering the league back in 2018 and we’ve seen him live up that. He’s one of the more tantalizing players in the MLB given his ability to play both sides of the ball at an extremely high level. The only question has been his health and it seems that may be behind him. The Angels will be cautious with the two-way talent, but he’s back to pitching this spring which is major progress considering what he’s gone through. I know everything in Anaheim revolves around Trout as it should, but if this team wants to be at their best they’re going to need Ohtani to do the same.
Something that will also play a factor in how far this team goes is two key young players, Griffin Canning and Jo Adell. Neither of these guys has had strong starts to their careers but this team needs them to live up to the hype surrounding them. Canning looked much better in the second month of last season as he pitched 28.2 innings with 33 Ks and an ERA of 3.14 in his final five starts. Having that kind of success to end 2020 makes me think of he could be in store for much more this time around. The former second-round selection out of UCLA will need to look more like the guy for this team in 2021 if they will move in a positive direction.
Adell entered last season as a consensus top-10 prospect but failed to show it. His first stint in the Majors proved to be a brutal one as he hit .161/.212/.266 in 38 games. He’s looked much better this spring, hitting .263/.440/.632. You can’t look too much into Spring Training numbers, but it is progress. Adell has the pure skill to match anyone in the league and he’ll need to prove that is true if he wishes to see time in Anaheim this summer.
Before I sign off, I want to say a few things about Mike Trout. How could I talk about the Angels and not? Firstly, those who think he holds some responsibility for this team not being good is downright dumb. Baseball isn’t a one-man sport and requires everyone to do their part. Trout has done more than his fair share to help this team win and everyone else has let him down. Anyone questioning the legacy of this man based on his lack of playoff experience needs to be checked out. If anything, his short-lived failures in the postseason should prove how team-oriented the game is.
Secondly, Mike is amazing. Trout has finished in the top five of MVP voting every year since 2012, winning the award three times. He made it to the All-Star game eight consecutive times before 2020 and would’ve made it again if the mid-summer classic had taken place. Trout’s led the league in OPS+ on six different occasions while doing it five straight times from 2015-19. His average season is a .304/.418/.582 triple-slash line with 34 doubles, 39 home runs, 103 RBI, and 26 stolen bases; Mike averages an MVP-caliber season. He’s eclipsed 10 WAR three times in his career per Baseball-Reference while averaging a WAR of 7.45 per season. Mike is already one of the best players ever with a chance to be the very best when he retires.
L.A. has been looking to be atop the AL West for quite some time now. This year may be the best shot they’ve had in a while and I think they’ll make the most of it. Realistically, this is one of the more talented teams in baseball. They have the players to end the season champions. Let’s hope things fall their way as they try to end a six-year postseason drought.