A new proposal would put the Angels and Dodgers in the same division, which sounds fun, but could hurt their playoff chances.
According to a report from Bob Nightengale, Major League Baseball is considering an alternate division setup if they are going to proceed with playing games in Arizona and Florida this season. If approved, the leagues would be separated between the Cactus League and Grapefruit League, similar to Spring Training.
Under the proposal, the Los Angeles Angels would be placed in the Cactus League West division, along with the Dodgers, the White Sox, the Reds, and the Indians.
If this happens, the Angels division certainly does looks a lot tougher, and the odds of reaching the playoffs even more difficult than it would be under the traditional divisional set-up, assuming the playoff structure does not create more opportunities with an expanded format.
Just by looking at it on first glance, every one of the teams that would compete alongside the Halos has a chance to be competitive and nobody can overlook the Dodgers playing in the same division as their freeway counterparts.
There will certainly be a renewed rivalry between the Angels and Dodgers if this format comes to fruition, with the Dodgers certainly the favorites among all the other teams. While the Giants, Mariners, and Royals, offer softer spots on the schedule from other divisions within the Cactus League, the West division offers a group of competitive teams in win-now mode.
Under the current American League West configuration, the Angels would’ve been looking to dethrone the Astros, with the Athletics being the other main source of competition. The Seattle Mariners and Texas Rangers have quality pieces, but they looked to be rebuilding this year.
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Besides the Dodgers, under the proposed format, the White Sox would present another challenging team for the Angels to get past, as they have a lot of quality pieces on their team, including Yasmani Grandal and Dallas Keuchel. Chicago seemed poised to battle for the American League Central division against the Indians. They both would be stuck trying to keep up with the juggernaut team that is the Dodgers.
While this may seem doom and gloom for the Angels, the bright spot for Halos fans should be that they have one of the best looking lineups on paper heading into the season, led by the best player in baseball right now, Mike Trout. Follow that up with the newly acquired Anthony Rendon, a super utility player in David Fletcher, the veteran presence of Albert Pujols, and the two-way phenom in Shohei Ohtani, other teams will have a hard time pitching around them.
The same concern has plagued the Angels for several years now, pitching. The team’s chances rest on how the pitching staff would be able to handle the likes of the Dodgers, on a schedule that would suddenly feature the powerhouse lineup several times.
For fans, however the divisions are aligned, the key takeaway if enacted is that baseball will finally be back, even if it looks a lot different than what we’re used to seeing.
We will have to wait and see the final word on how things will look from Major League Baseball. The Angels will certainly have to plan differently in how they match up against teams they are not used to playing against on a traditional schedule. But no matter how things shape up, it will be refreshing to see the Angels back in action, while making sure the players and staff are safe enough to play.