While LA Angels fans are clamoring for another move to be made, they’ve had a pretty solid offseason to date, and have the squad to have a successful regular season.
There are a few things that lead me to believe the LA Angels front office has constructed an exceptional team for the regular season. Obviously, the most significant is the addition of superstar Anthony Rendon. Adding a top five hitter in the MLB to slot behind Mike Trout is going to do wonders for this lineup, and when you follow that up with Justin Upton, Shohei Ohtani, and Albert Pujols, you have yourself a heck of a batting order.
Rendon also adds to what is going to be an elite defensive team in Anaheim. The Angels’ infield is arguably the best in the MLB defensively, and the only real minus on the diamond will be Justin Upton in left field.
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When people see this headline, they’ll probably think one of two things. The first possibility is that they agree. The second is that they’ll remember the Angels don’t have an ace (unless Ohtani returns to his rookie season form on the mound). And while the failure to acquire an ace was the biggest flop of the offseason for the Angels, I don’t think that necessarily takes them out of playoff contention.
Let’s go back to last season. This team was 54-49 on July 24th last season. They were in the thick of the Wild Card race. However, their season quickly went to shambles as they finished the rest of their season with an 18-41 record (.305 winning percentage). For comparison, that would have ranked second to last in the league over the course of an entire season, as only the Detroit Tigers won games at a lower rate.
Basically, the Angels had a monumental collapse late last season due to a handful of reasons. Tragedy, poor coaching, and injuries all played a role. However, the first two are extremely unlikely to repeat themselves. The death of Tyler Skaggs was obviously a life-changing tragedy, and the MLB is already taking steps to ensure it doesn’t happen to any other players.
In terms of the coaching staff, the Angels arguably flaunt one of the best in the league. What this season will really come down to is, as always, how healthy the Angels can stay.
And they took measures in the offseason to inject the rotation with reliable arms. Dylan Bundy and Julio Teheran as your middle-of-rotation starters is much better than Matt Harvey and Trevor Cahill. It also makes it so the Angels no longer need to rely on all of their young starters to breakthrough. Griffin Canning will surely have a rotation spot, leaving the sixth spot up to a handful of capable starters.
In the regular season, having one ace is nice. If Ohtani can be that, that’s great. However, rotational depth is nearly as important as having a star take the mound once a week. The Angels have a solid rotation throughout, and their depth beyond that is impressive as well.
While the Angels’ lack of a true ace will certainly hurt them in a potential Wild Card Game or postseason series, the rotation is good enough for this team to win games consistently without exhausting the bullpen. As long as they stay healthy, this group of starting pitchers combined with an elite offense and solid bullpen could be a formula that adds up to quite a few wins in Anaheim.