The LA Angels got off to a hot start to their 2018 season. They picked up three of four games against the Oakland A’s and are sitting atop the AL West with the Houston Astros.
Now, we rank the ten best players for the Angels so far this season, in our first weekly installment of LA Angels Power Rankings. While everyone has contributed well so far, some players are off to hot starts which leads to a few surprises in this week’s rankings.
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Honorable Mention: Jefry Marte
Marte has slashed .429/.500/.714 in his three games played this season. While his seven at-bats are an incredibly small sample size, he has proven how deserving he was of a bench spot this season. He also has not struck out yet, putting the ball in play each time he has stepped to the plate (outside of one time he walked).
10.) Matt Shoemaker
Matt Shoemaker’s stat line is not super impressive. A 4.76 ERA, four walks, and four strikeouts, are nothing to write home about. However, Shoemaker struggled with injuries and was able to control the game through five innings. He also only allowed two runs while he was on the mound, with Cam Bedrosian allowing an inherited run. Shoemaker is not the type of guy that has every put up dazzling ERA’s or K:BB ratios, but he always found ways to win games.
Kole Calhoun’s value has come on both sides of the game. On offense, he has four hits, including a triple and home run on Opening Day. However, Calhoun is 0-6 against left-handed pitchers. While he has been worse against lefties in his career, 0-6 is bad for anyone. His defense has been spectacular this far though, with the highlight of the opening series being him making a diving grab.
8.) Jim Johnson
Jim Johnson was the background of a deal in which the Angels acquired international free agent money, which eventually helped them land Shohei Ohtani. After a disappointing 2017, Johnson has looked great so far in 2018. In 2.1 shutout innings, he has three strikeouts while walking just one. Johnson’s pitches usually induce ground balls, and seeing him strike batters out is a huge bonus to his game.
7.) Blake Wood
Blake Wood was added to the Halos roster when Matt Shoemaker was placed on the 60-Day disabled list last year. Now, he is back for a second year in Anaheim. He is off to a great start as he has not allowed a run in his first three appearances. Wood is the type of pitcher who trusts his defense, and in 2.2 innings he has two strikeouts and a walk.
6.) Shohei Ohtani
Shohei Ohtani made two debuts this week. At DH, he ripped a single to right on the first pitch he saw in the MLB, but has not recorded a hit in his other four at-bats. However, in his pitching debut, he showed why every MLB team was vying for his service. He went through six innings while allowing three runs. All three runs came on a home run in the second inning (the one mistake pitch Ohtani had all day). Instead of crumbling, Ohtani instead retired 14 of the next 15 batters to close out the game. Striking out six batters while only walking one is what the scouts saw in Ohtani, and the best is yet to come.
5.) Keynan Middleton
2017 was a tale of three stories for Middleton. In his first 27 appearances, he owned a 3.38 ERA while dominating for the Halos. Then he had a 6.17 ERA over the next 25 games. He ended the season hot by making 11 straight scoreless appearances. That has carried over to this season, where he has made three appearances. He has yet to allow a run on one hit and a walk, and has struck out two batters. He also recorded his first save of the season on Sunday. He could see more use in the ninth inning if he keeps up this level of play.
4.) Mike Trout
Mike Trout at four?! Before you pick up the torches, Trout has been amazing so far. He even displayed his talent while going 0-6 (for the first time in his career) on Opening Day. In three games since then, he has a .429 batting average while slugging .857. He started Game 2 with a solo shot to left field, and has followed up with three doubles since then. His four RBI’s is tied for the team lead, but that 0-6 day in the Halos’ lone loss is likely the difference between a 3-1 record and being undefeated going into their home opener.
3.) Tyler Skaggs
Talk about announcing your presence with authority. After an offseason of everyone talking about Garrett Richards, Shohei Ohtani, and Matt Shoemaker, Skaggs was the best pitcher this weekend. He went a phenomenal 6.1 innings of scoreless baseball. He struck out five batters and did not give any free bases. He displayed a curveball amongst the best in baseball, and dominated the game from start to finish. It seems Skaggs is finally putting all the potential he had into production.
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The best defensive player is becoming one of the best shortstops in the league before our eyes. Andrelton Simmons was a legit MVP candidate through the first half of 2017, and after a slow second half on offense, is back for more. He is hitting .438 so far this season, which leads the Angels regulars. While he has not had an extra-base hits, he is tied for the team high in RBI’s with four. He is another player who has yet to strikeout this year, and has arguably been the best player for the Angels so far.
1.) Zack Cozart
Simmons would be the Halos best performer if not for his running mate Zack Cozart. Cozart was the Halos biggest signing this offseason (sorry Ohtani) in terms of competing this year. He has shown through Spring Training and now the first weekend that he is worth every penny. He has slashed .368/.400/.737 so far while adding a big fly and two doubles. On defense, he has shown his versatility. We all knew he could play short stop, but he has played both third base (where the Halos plan for him to be the regular) and second base (while Ian Kinsler rehabs a groin and abductor injury). He has been exceptional everywhere he has played, and his offensive game has made him the best Angels player through week one.
The Angels head home for a set against the Cleveland Indians and then take on the Oakland A’s again this weekend. Be sure to read next week to see who rises, falls, and breaks the top ten in the LA Angels power rankings.