Despite a tough season, the 2020 Angels had their bright spots
By Kyle Franzoni
After another disappointing finish to their season, we take a look at some of the bright spots for the Los Angeles Angels in 2020.
Even before COVID-19 cast its shadow on Major League Baseball and delayed much of the 2020 season, expectations were tepid at best for the Los Angeles Angels. While they could offensively hang with any team in the league, pitching was once again going to be a question mark that hung over the roster.
Those same expectations improved slightly when the 2020 season was shortened to a 60-game sprint and the playoff field was expanded to 16 teams. Surely, the Angels stood a better chance of ending their five-year playoff drought when half the teams in the league were guaranteed a shot at the postseason.
Unfortunately, expectations rarely meet reality, and the Angels’ renewed hope was dashed like a kid on Halloween, reaching into his trick-or-treat bag only to find a popcorn ball at the bottom.
While the team did come into the final weekend with an outside shot of overtaking the Astros for the final playoff spot in the American League, it was more a sign of the Astros finishing the season two games below .500 than it was a successful run by the Angels. A 14-10 finish in September wasn’t enough to overcome a 12-24 start through July and August.
Alas, while the season (once again) didn’t finish in the manner the Angels were hoping, there were a few bright spots that offer some encouragement for 2021 and beyond.
When a team commits to a 7-year, $245 million deal with the player, it comes with certain expectations. While Rendon got off to a slow start, he ultimately made good on his promise and showed exactly why the Angels brought him aboard. The third baseman finished fifth in baseball in fWAR (2.7) and 14th in wRC+ (157) while slashing .286/.418/.497 with nine home runs, 31 RBI, and more walks than strikeouts. Ultimately, he provided exactly the player the Angels wanted hitting behind Mike Trout.
While pitching remained a struggle for the Angels, the team saw solid strides from Griffin Canning in his second season. The delay to the season provided fruitful, putting aside injury concerns and allowing Canning to make 11 starts for the Halos. Ultimately, he put up a 2-3 record, a 3.99 ERA, and an 8.95 K/9. He still has work to do, namely in the control department, but Canning stands to be a constant in the Angels rotation for the next several seasons.
When the Angels came into the season, their choice to grab two journeyman catchers known more for framing than hitting, some scratched their heads. While Stassi’s framing was still solid, he ultimately proved to be much more fruitful with the bat than that Angels were expecting. A .278/.352/.533 triple-slash with seven home runs and 20 RBI helped pave the way for the Angels to trade Jason Castro at the deadline. He’s got two years of contractual control through arbitration as well, providing a stabilizing presence behind the plate for the Halos.