Much Ado About the Angels and Slow Starts


With this whole “World Series” thing going on, there isn’t a lot of Angels news floating around out there on the interwebz. OK, there’s none. None at all. There was a bit of a shakeup with the coaching staff earlier this month, and Mike Trout was named the Sporting News’ Player of the Year, but that has been about it. Most of what you will see is reviewing of payers and speculation about how the Angels can improve.

One of those speculations, well, is a little bit on the annoying side.

We heard about it all April long, this season and in 2012. “The Angels are off to another slow start.” “Oh, no. There go the Angels ruining their postseason chances by getting out of the blocks slowly.” “More like ‘the Los Angeles Angels of Slow Starts,’ amirite?”

We got it. And, by April 3rd, we were tired of it. By April 10th, most fans wanted Mike Scioscia‘s head on a pike. By May 1st, we were counting down to 2014. Thanks, mainstream media. Thanks.

So, naturally, the fun topic to talk about as the calendar prepares to turn to football, is the topic about the Angels and their slow April starts. Alden Gonzales – Who I think is fantastic – pinned the bulk of the blame of the last two seasons on both Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton. The two high-priced sluggers who came out of the gates with their shoestrings tied together. At Rant Sports, some other guy named Michael thinks that they key is not just April, but Spring Training.

First, Alden.

Mr. Gonzales should really know better. In 2009, the Angels went 9-12 in April. They finished that season two wins away from the World Series. The 2002 team was 11-14 at the end of April. They just went on to win a World Series, nothing too exciting though.

From 2002 to 2009, the Angels averaged 13 wins. Which is anywhere from playing .500 baseball, to being two games under .500 at the end of April. And they still made it into the playoffs six times during that span. Those are pretty solid results without always having the benefit of hot start in April.

For Mr. Blogger at Rant Sports, well, let’s sum it up with his own words.

"The days of slow starts must be over if Los Angeles wants to carry their own weight at the top of the AL West division. Busting out of the gate and never looking back is clearly the only way the offense will succeed."

They have to be over.

A fast start is the only way that the offense can succeed.

If those things are true, then finishing the season with the fifth best batting average, OBP and slugging percentage is to be deemed a failure. And having the fourth best wOBA and wRC+ is simply not being successful.

The Angels don’t need to get off to a hot start in 2014 to be successful. They need to be more consistent in 2014 to be successful. Or, as Garrett Wilson at Monkey With A Halo said recently, “The Angels need to get back to not having any weaknesses,” which is, kind of perfect.

April is one month out of six. It is only 16.7% of a Major League season. If that first month is so important that a slow start means that the Angels will be DOA, then why would they even bother paying the other 83.3% of the schedule? If you’re out of the race by May 1st, why not go home and enjoy the summer with your family? They play the rest of the season because five months is still – and always will be – greater than one. Because the games in May matter as well. Because a slow start in April, does not always spell doom.

Is it kind of/sort of important for the Angels to get off to a better start next season? Yeah, sure. At the very least, it will get the media off of the teams back, and it will keep the thermostat underneath both Mike Scioscia’s and Jerry Dipoto‘s seat down. Maybe, I won’t rant. OK, I’ll rant. But, will a slow April start mean that the Angels will be doomed for the rest of the season in 2014? No. No it won’t. Not by a long shot.