Are The Angels Pretenders or Contenders?


The 2015 Los Angeles Angels have been one of the great mysteries of this season. This team is consistently inconsistent. Most of the time in the first half has been spent on perfecting the one step forward, and two steps back practice. Currently, the Angels are in 2nd place in the AL West, 4 GB of the Houston Astros. The standings are actually a gift considering how this team has played. There is two ways to look at the outlook going forward for the Angels. They are either pretenders or contenders.

Why The Angels Are Contenders:

Lets start with the given, Mike Trout and Albert Pujols. Having these two in the lineup has been about the only saving grace thus far this season. Pujols is in the midst of an MVP type start to the season, seemingly hitting a home run every night and regaining his form as a force in the middle of the lineup. Mike Trout is being himself and will continue to put up numbers that make him an MVP candidate this year. So the Angels have essentially two MVP candidates in their lineup, which should be enough to contend. The starting rotation has been somewhat of a positive surprise. With the emergence of Hector Santiago pitching like an ace and prospect Andrew Heaney getting inserted into the rotation, the Angels have two lefties that will give them a huge boost. Then we have Garrett Richards and C.J. Wilson. Richards has the best stuff on the staff and potentially in the AL, after a bumpy start he has started to pitch consistently like they need. Wilson is an interesting case that makes the Angels contenders in two ways: he either pitches great for the rest of the season, or he gets traded for much needed offensive help.

The AL West is the big bonus here for the Angels contention. While the Astros have been the surprise of the MLB and look like a team that won’t go away quietly, it still isn’t enough. The AL West is filled with teams that beat each other up and are very close in talent. As history has showed us, this division always goes down to the wire and the division winner usually comes out of nowhere. The Angels have been in all these situations before and have generally been the team at the top of the standings at the end of the year. Either way you look at it, the Angels have the roster to consider them contenders and play in a division that won’t be decided until the last week or so of the season.

Why The Angels Are Pretenders:

The inconsistency of this team will turn out to be its kryptonite. At some point, the Angels have to string together a few win streaks in a row if they want to play meaningful baseball in September. The problem with that is the fact they seem to look like a different team each night.

The offense is a nightmare to watch for the most part. Outside of Pujols and Trout, there is zero consistent production from the rest of the lineup. While it seemed like a good idea to trade Josh Hamilton at the time, it has shown a huge void in the middle of the order. As good as it is to have two MVP candidates batting 3rd and 4th, you still need to have guys on base for their at-bats to matter. No team can compensate for a lineup that has 4-5 spots in it that are almost given outs.

Besides the problematic positions and roster spots, this team just hasn’t looked good. The inconsistency is one thing, but not being able to beat teams with records above .500 is pretty telling of this season. You can blame this on the roster, or you can blame it on the manager. Mike Scioscia just hasn’t been able to convey any type of fire or urgency each night to this team, which is a big reason why the Angels seem to never jump out to any leads.

Bottom line, this season started with a bad omen. The Josh Hamilton situation was a crushing blow to this organization regardless of how overpaid and underperforming he was with the Angels. And it looked even worse when stories came out saying GM Jerry Dipoto blocked Hamilton from meeting with team owner Arte Moreno. From the front office to the coaching staff down to the players, the first half of the season has just resembled a disconnect on all levels.