AL West rivals: Los Angeles Angels

Over the next couple of weeks, we will take a look at each of the Astros AL West rivals and finally a microscopic look back on to our own Astros. Today we begin the topic with the Los Angeles/California Angels of Anaheim/ LA or whatever their name is this week. We will include some stats from 2019 and 2020 since 2020 was such an odd wad season.

  • Last Playoff season – 2014 (Swept by KC Royals in ALDS)
  • Last Playoff winning series – 2009 (Over Red Sox in ALDS)
  • Won WS in 2002 – 4-3 over the Giants
  • 2019 Record – 72-90 4th place in the AL West – 35 games back / 38-43 at home / 34-47 on road / 18-22 one run games / 3-7 extra inning games – They were 5-14 against the Astros
  • Hitting – 4.75 runs/game (8th in AL) / .247 BA (T-10th) / .324 OBP (7th) / .746 OPS (9th) / 220 HRs (T-10th)
  • Pitching – 5.36 runs/game (10th in AL) / 1.381 WHIP (9th) / 32 saves (13th) – Starters – 5.64 ERA (15th) Relievers – 4.64 ERA (10th)
  • 2020 Record – 26-34  4th place in the AL West – 10 games back / 16-15 at home / 10-19 on road / 9-9 one run games / 3-5 extra inning games -They were 6-4 against the Astros
  • Hitting – 4.90 runs/game (4th in AL) / .248 BA (5th) / .332 OBP (2nd) / .763 OPS (5th) / 85 HRs (5th)
  • Pitching – 5.35 runs / game (13th) / 1.315 WHIP (9th) / 12 saves (12th) – Starters – 5.52 ERA (14th) / Relievers – 4.63 (10th)

Review

When talking about the Angels, a number of big storylines/questions pop up. Will the Angels put enough talent around Mike Trout to stop wasting the prime of the best player in baseball? Will they ever get out from under that onerous Albert Pujols contract? (Answer – this is the last year as he earns the big bucks, $30 MM, though he can earn $1 MM per year for 10 years on a personal services contract if he works for the club) Will Shohei Ohtani ever stay healthy enough to fulfill all the two-way hype that has surrounded his career?

Offense

In the virus shortened 2020 season, the Angels improved quite a bit vs. the league by basically holding ground and putting up slightly better stats. While the league average of runs per game fell from 4.88 to 4.58 runs/gm from 2019 to 2020, the Angels bumped up from 4.75 to 4.90 runs/gm, which put them in the top 5 in AL offenses. The biggest boost to the offense was the signing of 3B Anthony Rendon (.286 BA/ .418 OBP/ .915 OPS), though they got some nice offensive boosts from unexpected sources like former Astro Max Stassi (.278 BA/.352 OBP/.886 OPS), IF Tommy LaStella (.273 BA/ .371 OBP/ .845 OPS), IF David Fletcher (.319 BA/ .376 OBP/ .801 OPS) and OF Jared Walsh (.293 BA/ .324 OBP/ .971 OPS).

The biggest loss on the offensive side (and defensive side) was SS Andrelton Simmons moving on to the Twins in free agency. He was not the kind of power threat that a Carlos Correa presents and he had missed considerable time in 2019 and 2020, but he is a four-time gold glover. The Angels traded for veteran SS Jose Iglesias to replace Simmons, who had a breakout offensive season (.373 BA/.400 OBP/.956 OPS in only 39 games) with an unsustainable .407 BAbip. The Angels also picked up the unspectacular former Astro Dexter Fowler, whose numbers have been in a decline since his All Star 2016 season with the Cubs. The Angels offense would seem to be headed to a repeat of 2020 as even with some regression from with Stassi, LaStella, Fletcher or Walsh, there should be some bounce back from Ohtani (.190 BA/ .291/ .657) and Justin Upton (.204/.289/.711). They are also hoping that uber young prospect, Jo Adell, pulls a Kyle Tucker and hits much better in his next shot at the big leagues, whether that is to start the season or farther along.

Starting Pitching

This has been the biggest problem area for the Angels and the place where their fans hoped they would put the most emphasis in the off-season. They let Julio Teheran (who was a disaster in 2020) go. They signed Jose Quintana and traded for the Orioles’ Alex Cobb. Quintana had been a good to very good pitcher in his career with some fall off in 2019 and an injury-marred 2020 (thumb laceration while washing dishes??). Cobb, after some terrible numbers in 2018 and 2019, pitched solidly in 2020 for the O’s. These two, plus Dylan Bundy (very good in 2020), Griffin Canning ( good in 2020) and Andrew Heaney (so-so in 2020) form the core of the rotation. The wild card and possible participant in a proposed 6 man rotation is Shohei Ohtani. Ohtani was very good as a pitcher in 2018, broke down and had Tommy John surgery that wiped out 2019 (as a pitcher only) and only pitched 1.2 innings in 2020. This may not be a great rotation, but it looks like it should be an improved rotation in 2021.

Bullpen

The Angels’ bullpen has been below average the last couple of seasons, not the disaster the starters have been, but not a point of strength. The Angels have “lost” a number of arms out of the bullpen, including Cam Bedrosian, Hansel Robles, Justin Anderson, Matt Andriese, Noe Ramirez and Jacob Barnes with Bedrock and Ramirez being the best of the bunch and others being addition by subtraction.

The biggest move the Angels made for the bullpen was the trade of Noe Ramirez to the Reds for reliever Raisel Iglesias, who has been the Reds closer for a number of years. They also brought in some veteran arms, who may or may not make it into the season, such as Aaron Slegers, Alex Claudio and Junior Guerra. Current closer Ty Buttrey is coming off a poor 2020, but they are hoping for a bounce back from him, plus contributions from other returnees, such as Mike Mayers and Felix Pena.

Overall, it is pretty easy to see the Angels over the .500 mark in 2021, but it is difficult to see, as some prognosticators have predicted, an AL West win for the Halos.

2021 Prediction: 85-77 and third place in the AL West.

20 comments on “AL West rivals: Los Angeles Angels

  1. Every year, when I watch the Angels I think this is the year their offense does it for them, yet their pitchers cause that to go down the drain. Let’s hope that terrible luck continues without injuries.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m glad I’m not an Angels fan. Their pitching does not excite me. I would be disappointed if we don’t score at least 5 runs per game against them.

    As for their offense, I would walk Trout every time he comes up and make their other guys try and beat us.

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  3. I see that the Angels have almost 120MM tied up in just 4 players and 102MM for next year in 3 players. What a burden. Of course Trout and Rendon are the primary reason save Pujols 30MM for this year. I just wonder what Trout’s thinking is in relation to winning a pennant or World Series. On the other hand he’s making $37MM a year so maybe he’s not too concerned about it. Like you Dan, if they finish anything better than third in the West I’d look for CA to fall into the Pacific Ocean.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Couple of interesting points.
    * The Astros heavy RH pitching staff lines up well with their heavy RH hitting lineup.
    * It appears they will have only five players on their opening day roster that actually came up through their system.
    * Two pitches in their six-man rotation are LH With the Astros having three LH batters who have handled LHP fairly well and six RH batters.
    * With a six man rotation, they would have a shorter bullpen and have only one projected LH reliever.

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  5. I for one am very glad that the team is giving the fans a much needed day off. From top to bottom, from pitching to hitting to defense, this Astro team has thus far looked uninspiring to say the least. Nine more games to get missing George Springer’s enthusiastic leadership model out of your system, guys!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Totally agree. And the AAAA players are looking uninspired also. Taylor Jones didn’t run out a ground ball the other day. And playing tie games probably inspires neither team.

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    • I’ve been watching the Rockets lose 18 consecutive games that count so I’m not going to get jazzed about the Astros losing some games that don’t matter.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I haven’t watched one game because I am not a fan of the NBA.
        But, I have been watching every day on the internet as the Rockets tear it down all the way to almost nothing, so that they have ammunition to build it back up again and try something different.
        A big fan of the process and couldn’t care less about what the results will be.
        Shipping players out is one of the things about the NBA I love. Send them all packing every year. Musical sports chairs.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I had no idea the Rockets had lost 18 straight. Last I knew, their out of shape somewhat tubby star, the one that never won a big game, forced his way out of town. The NBA consists of a batch of clubs with no chance to win dominated by a few teams of handpicked players, players that literally determine what guys they want to play with. 80% of the clubs in the league have no real chance of going deep. The NBA lost me years ago.

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    • OP, we have not watched an NBA game since the league offices threatened to remove the all-star game from North Carolina over the state’s decision to ban the fed’s gender “neutral” men (boys) into women’s (girls’ ) restrooms and showers. That was 2016. Have not missed them for a moment.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I live here in NC sargeh, and I haven’t watched an NBA game since “whenever” and I don’t plan to. I only watch the college playoffs sporadically but my enthusiasm level is way down. I also didn’t watch any NFL games this year save for a few minutes here and there. Once it becomes political I lose almost all interest in the sport. While there have been some of those occurrences in the baseball world, I still want to watch the Astros. Old habits are hard to die. I find myself watching more golf than ever and I’ll continue to play as much as I can. One thing about playing golf. You can still do that pretty effectively as one ages which can’t always be said for a lot of other sports. In the meantime, I’m looking forward to my next Tiddly Winks match.

        Liked by 2 people

  6. Guess I could sum up the Astros Spring Training in one word. Boring!. Hopefully, the regular season will be somewhat better. Maybe they and others are having a 2020 hangover.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. With ST winding down, a ton of cuts and assignments to minor league camp pending, and decisions to be made on 4th OF, who’ll get the last infield spot, and who’ll get the final rotation and bullpen spots, I am hoping we finally get to see some energy, enthusiasm, and impressive results – at least from guys like McCormick, Siri, and Sauza, Robel Garcia and Abraham Toro, and on-the-cusp pitchers like Scrubb, Cishek, Bielak, and Luis Garcia.

    But if we don’t also find someone among the regular crew step up and take over the on-the-field-leadership and inspiration role George Springer filled so well, it probably won’t matter all that much who fills any of the open slots.

    I’ve given up on Altuve being a team leader – he’s just too emotionally fragile; and while I wish Bregs would be the guy, he all too often comes across as too tightly-wound and a bit of a loose cannon. Michael Brantley is a professional hitter – and a darn good one – but does not appear to be a team leader. Carlos would be the natural choice, but he’s in a contract year. Yuli? He’s always struggling with something. Alvarez? Probably not yet, as he’ll be dealing with the infamous ‘not surprising anyone anymore’ Sophomore Slump curse. And that leaves . . . Kyle Tucker? Does he have it in him? I sure hope so.

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  8. I’ve been enjoying seeing where the guys, especially those who had no MiLB season, have been progressing. Last game, Taylor Jones hit a straightaway CF, no-doubter when the team was down 4-3 late. Dawson then worked the count for a walk, and Bryan DeLa Cruz came up fighting for his 4th OF life. A guy who has been in our org since he was 17, for seven years now — how could you not be rooting for him vs Siri and Souza? He hit a towering HR last Spring, and despite having much pedigree he has surpassed a dozen outfielders in his time in Houston who all got top bill when he did not.

    Bryan worked the count a few pitches when sudenly he turned on a pitch beautifully. Exhibition games are badly understaffed, no revenue supporting it so the coaches don’t care so much about results. They just want a good look-see on the fly if you will, and already have a good idea before Spring who the bubble guys are, which positions are truly up for grabs. They all wanted to see this “freak” we drafted last year name Zach Daniels as yet another guy to surpass DeLa Cruz. These are all development men who speak a different language, and there’s lots of pressure under Click to have been airtight in their draft picks. These are all these odds stacking against Bryan.

    Sure enough he laces one down the line and Dawson would have scored his 2nd game winner of the Spring, but the lone ump on the left side was at home plate, and he called it foul. Now, do you think coaches really care it was an inch foul, or that in that moment, he was that “on top of that pitcher”? In fact, DLC needs another year in minors, but Sparks asked, “fair to say he has turned some heads?” Ford said, “YES!”

    These are the stories undergirding the headlines I’m tracking. I just wrote up a new after-Spring Top 20 if you’re interested. dave, I put Whitley at #6. Well, here you go:

    #1 H Brown, Leon, Garcia, Pena, Lee, Whitley, Nova, Ivey, Solomon, Solis,

    #11 Daniels, Barber, Abreu, Santos, Hansen, McCormick, Jones, Rodriguez, Dubin, Lorenzo.

    What do you think, Op? Who would you have inside of 20 instead?

    Petey Solomon on the hill tonight. One hidden plus with him and Solis, as with LMJ were they had more than 17 months expired before they had to pitch competitively, which according to Clay Hensley, Doug Brocail told him. Tommy Johns takes 18 months then you will more suddenly feel stronger. At least this is the word I’m going on, and have in ranking those guys over the years, even while they were hurt. They have always said it is the year after your first competitive year.

    Will McCullers finally completely healthy, become the ace some of us projected?

    All the best everybody!

    Liked by 2 people

      • I’ll bet you can break out in song about a Long Shot, Mr Bill?

        “A rich ol’ man, and she won’t have to worry,
        she’s headed for the cheatin’ side of town.
        You can’t hide your long shot eyes..”

        This is why I leave the creativity to you!

        Liked by 1 person

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