Have No Fear, May is Here
By Trey Hannula
After Thursday’s nail biter win over the Oakland A’s, the Angels improved to 11-11 and 3.5 games back of the surprisingly successful first place Houston Astros. The Angels are hitting their stride, going 5-2 over the last seven games after a 6-9 start to the year. Despite being just .500 in the opening month of the season, the club is setting themselves up for another division contender type year.
For some unknown reason, the Angels play their worst baseball in April. From 2012-2014, the Angels recorded a 31-45 record in games before May. A combination of low offense and mediocre pitching led to the downfall of the Angels in 2012 and 2013 and prevented the 2012 club from reaching the playoffs after a 6-14 start to the season. Here’s a neat table breaking down the Angels’ last four seasons.
Pre-May Run Differential
Rest of Season Record
As you can see, ever since the Albert Pujols era began the Angels have been slow starters. In 2012, the offense couldn’t get started until Mike Trout was promoted and immediately made an impact. In 2013, offseason acquisitions Joe Blanton and Tommy Hanson provided little value at the back end of the rotation, especially Blanton who posted an ERA over 7 in April.
During the 2014 Spring Training, the Angels’ coaching staff and management team agreed to stretch out the starters in hopes of getting them in form early. The move would pay off as the reformed staff and bullpen lowered their ERA from 4.87 to 3.75 from the previous year; the team would replicate the same process this year. Here’s another cool table for your viewing pleasure.
Rest of Season ERA
Pre-May Runs Scored per game
Rest of Season Runs Scored per game
Rest of Season OPS
Simply put, keep calm and carry on. The Angels have a history of slow starts but as soon as May hits, the tables seem to turn. Currently, the Angels rank 12th in ERA and 17th in runs scored. That’s not too bad when you account for the ace of the staff imitating a pitching machine and virtually no production from the middle of the lineup.
as soon as May hits, the tables seem to turn
Right now, the Angels are sitting pretty. The Astros are bound to come back to earth, Jered Weaver and Matt Joyce will normalize, and the team will be just fine. Bad to mediocre starts are just part of the master plan for the Halos and as the weather heats up, so will the team. In case of emergency, newly polished prospects such as Andrew Heaney, Carlos Perez, Kyle Kubitza, and Trevor Gott can be called up and make a difference for the club, a luxury that didn’t exist in earlier years.
Don’t sweat the sluggish start, things will get better.
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