The LA Angels haven’t looked very much improved this season.
The pitching for the LA Angels has been atrocious, the defense has been arguably worse, and they’re not hitting the way they should either.
There were higher expectations placed on this team heading into 2021 than there has been recently, and we as fans are understandably disappointed.
There is one thing, however, that the LA Angels have very much improved on, and that’s their ability to steal bases.
In 2020 (a 60-game season) the Angels stole just 21 bags, which was good for just 21st in the majors. This year, they already swiped 20 bases through their first 50 games of the season.
Almost already matching their last season’s total in ten less games, they’ve at least figured out how to improve upon something. This usually isn’t progress that Joe Maddon-coached teams usually see. In Maddon’s last three years with the Chicago Cubs, his teams finished 29th (2019), 24th (2018), and 24th (2017) in stolen bases across the MLB.
Shohei Ohtani leads the Angels with six stolen bases (as of the 50-game mark). He’s flashed his speed not only through stealing bases, however:
20 stolen bases through 50 games isn’t a ton, but it’s an improvement. This is especially true when considering that the Angels have the fifth-worst run differential in the majors (-48).
Trying to steal bases in blowout losses is not a good idea, so the fact that the Angels are improving in this category despite not being in situations to succeed and develop in this aspect of the game is something worth being optimistic about.