The Los Angeles Angels enter the second half with a record of 48-38, four games behind the Texas Rangers for the AL West lead, and sitting atop the Wild Card Standings. This is not a bad spot to be in at the All-Star Break. Before the second half starts, let’s take a look back at the first half and check out how we got here.
Coming into the season, the team had sky high expectations. When you bring in arguably the best player in baseball in free agency in Albert Pujols, and sign an ace pitcher from your division rival in C.J. Wilson to go with Jered Weaver and Dan Haren, those things tend to happen. Well, the start didn’t go so well. The team started 6-15. Mark Trumbo was playing third and looking very uncomfortable. The team wasn’t hitting, and the bullpen wasn’t doing great either. On April 27th, the team cut Bobby Abreu and called up Mike Trout to play in the outfield. Trout made the all-star team and is in the conversation for MVP. On May 3rd, the Angels got Ernesto Frieri from the San Diego Padres in exchange for Alexi Amarista and Donn Roach. Frieri has yet to give up a run as a member of the Angels. Since those two moves, the Angels have had the best record in baseball.
It might have taken a month, but Albert Pujols finally hit his first home run as an Angel on May 6 against the Blue Jays. He’s up to .268 with 14 HR and 51 RBI for the season. No they aren’t where his usual numbers are, but still pretty darn good. Vernon Wells went down on May 21 and has yet to come back. When that happened, the usual outfield alignment has been Trumbo in left, Trout in center and Torii Hunter in right with Peter Bourjos sprinkled in. Another change that helped was inserting Hunter behind Trout in the two hole and in front of Albert Pujols.
Jered Weaver has continued to be a dominant force winning over 10 games, including a no-hitter, and having a sub 2 ERA before the break for the second year in a row, something only Sandy Koufax has ever done since 1950. Scott Downs has been great in the bullpen having an ERA of 0.30 and collecting eight saves so far. On the flip side, Ervin Santana has been like roller coaster at Disney. He’s 4-9 with an ERA of 5.75. His K/9 is down from career averages and has already given up 20 home runs. Dan Haren’s numbers are also down, and he is on the DL for the first time in his career. Some of that is bad luck, as the Angels were shut out in four straight starts of his.
All in all, not a bad start. The team recovered from a bad start and is in prime position to make the playoffs. Tomorrow we’ll take a look at what to expect for the second half and what needs to be done in order to play in October.