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Albert Pujols

The 2015 LAA Angels: You’re never as bad or as good as you think.

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Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

The Angels have been one of the more erratic teams in baseball all season. At times they’ve looked like a legit threat to make a deep postseason run, and other times they resemble a team just incapable of playing good baseball. For example: Just a week ago, the Angels held first place in the AL West by 2 games over Houston…fast forward a week to now where they sit 2 games back of first place behind Houston.

Not as good as you think: Every team goes through stretches of poor play, but none have had to deal with it the way the Angels have this year. After falling to the Dodgers today 3-1, the Angels have now lost 8 of their last 10 games. And frankly haven’t even deserved to win any of those games with the way they’ve played. But beyond the wins/losses is the impact of the trade deadline. The Houston Astros added two premier players in Scott Kazmir and Carlos Gomez to help solidify their roster. What was the Angels big move? Shane Victorino, David Murphy, and David Dejesus…3 utility outfielders that peaked in 2010. So while the Angels did make moves and did upgrade the LF position, they still have a lineup that lacks impact players besides Trout & Pujols.

The Angels have been fortunate in beating the teams they should beat. But against teams with a record of .500 or better, the Halos are just 12-21. Usually a good judge of how talented you’re team is how they stack up against other playoff contenders. And the Angels record against those teams is an inside look at the true talent level on this team.

Jered Weaver will hopefully be returning from the DL soon and ideally regaining his old form that made him one of the best pitchers in the league. C.J. Wilson is another story, the Angels would have been better off moving him a month ago when they had the chance. Now he may need tommy john surgery. Two big question marks right off the bat in the rotation. Hector Santiago, Andrew Heaney, and Garrett Richards have been bright spots but going forward the Angels need Richards to pitch like a dominant ace for their playoff hopes.

The bullpen is another mystery that hasn’t been solved all year. They don’t have a reliable arm besides Huston Street and for the most part Joe Smith. At this point, if the bullpen is needed to pitch 3-4 innings there’s a good chance the game is going to get out of hand. The importance of the pen is a very real aspect of the game, and the Angels not having a stopper until potentially the 9th inning of every game is a problem.

Bottomline: Top to bottom this roster isn’t as good as almost all of the teams contending for a playoff spot, and their record against contenders is telling.

Not as bad as you think: The obvious reasons are all there..Mike Trout is playing like an MVP, yet again. Albert Pujols has had one of his best years in recent memory so far this season. Mike Scioscia has been here before, and has a world series title. Not to mention the Angels have dominated the AL West division since 2000 and that is something other division rivals don’t take lightly.

Photo by KEVIN SULLIVAN / Orange County Register — 4/2/15

4/2/15

This team was in first place just a week ago. Just a week ago they seemed like one of the best teams in baseball and a shoe in for a postseason run. The Angels have also added 3 proven upgrades for LF, which means less Matt Joyce, always a good thing. So the team has gotten better.

As a team, the Angels are batting .249, good for 24th out of 30 teams. Not ideal but that number has been skewed by the amount of platoon players trotted in and out of the lineup this season. More impressively is the Angels rank in the top 10 for HRs (#7), and top 15 for RBIs as a team. On to the pitching side, as whole they’ve done a nice job managing this year, ranking in at 11th for team ERA in the bigs with a 3.62 ERA. and top 10 in batting average against.

Bottom line: The Angels are a playoff team one way or another. Getting into the postseason is the first step, and getting hot at the right time is the second step. Luckily, the Angels have played good enough this season despite a great roster to still hold hope that this team could get hot and win the whole thing.

Here is the silver lining in all of it: through all of the ups and downs, the Josh Hamilton saga, Jerry Dipoto resigning, not making any big moves at the deadline, and this recent stretch of poor play..the Angels are still just 2 games back of first place. Hence you’re never as good or as bad as you think.

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