The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim could benefit from a shortened MLB season.
As many baseball fans are waiting to see what is to become of the 2020 season, there have been multiple reports about the scheduling should baseball be played this season. The one proposal from the League is an 82-game season with the expansion of the playoffs, which may mean the Angels back in the postseason.
For the Angels, this may be good news as teams will be preparing more for a sprint rather than a marathon. The absolutely stacked lineup the Angels will roll out, should the season be played, will help them generate runs to be an offensive force against most teams they play. While we are still waiting to see how the divisions will be shaped up based on travel restrictions and the ongoing problems of COVID-19, the Angels lineup can certainly go toe-to-toe with any other team in the league. While I stated before that the Angels will have a difficult time against the first proposed teams should they face them like the Dodgers, Reds, White Sox, and Indians, the newest proposal states that games will only be played against divisional and regional opponents, which is something the Angels will enjoy a lot better than the original idea proposed.
This means that the Angels will only be looking to face the original teams they were already slated to play in their division like the Athletics, Rangers, Mariners, and Astros, as well as teams from the NL West such the Dodgers, Diamondbacks, Rockies, Giants, and Padres. Designated hitters will also appear in both leagues which should be an advantage to the Angels as Shohei Ohtani will likely get playing time in National League games. All of this looks to favor the Angels against a relatively weak NL West, as the only teams to finish with a .500 or better win percentage were the Diamondbacks and the Dodgers. One of the biggest advantages of playing against NL West teams is the fact that the pitching for most NL West teams isn’t the greatest.
In 2019, all of the NL West teams, outside of the Dodgers, had team ERAs above 4.00 with the Rockies having a 5.56 ERA thanks to their friendly hitting ballpark. The Angels lineup can certainly benefit from this, especially their top-heavy hitters, imagine what Trout’s numbers might look like just playing a few games at Coors Field? Of course, Angels pitchers will see the same struggles while pitching in that ballpark, however, the Angels designed their team to be one of the most offensively potent in baseball. Another team they might benefit from playing against is the Padres as they have an unproven pitching staff outside of Chris Paddack, who seems to be finding himself just after his rookie season. The Giants also have an unproven staff towards the bottom of their rotation while the top two starters, Jeff Samardzija and Johnny Cueto, are coming off down years from 2019.
The two teams that the Angels will run into some trouble with should the season start are the Diamondbacks and Dodgers, who are the most complete teams in the NL West. The Dodgers have won seven consecutive NL West division titles and are showing no signs of stopping with stars such as Cody Bellinger, Walker Buehler, Corey Seager, and newly acquired Mookie Betts. The Diamondbacks are interesting as well because of the fact that they traded their star player, Paul Goldschmidt, to the Cardinals for young controllable talent in pitcher Luke Weaver, catcher Carson Kelly, and infielder Andy Young. The next season, 2019, they acquired free agent Madison Bumgardner in order to lead their young rotation as they still have enough talent to possibly get into the postseason. With such talent on both of these teams, the Angels will certainly have their work cut out for them should they actually face opponents from the NL West.
The Angels finished with negative records against all of their division rivals except for the Mariners, who I consider to be rebuilding. If the newly formed division does stay true to what they are proposed, then the Angels will have to improve those numbers and figure out ways to get wins in their own division first, before reaping in the rewards of playing against struggling teams of the NL West. Of course, we will have to wait and see if the Angels can beat up on struggling NL West teams of the past as they will be facing teams more consistently that they haven’t gotten a good like at before. All of this comes at the expense that the proposed regional divisions stay the same and that baseball actually comes back.