When Joe Maddon signed his three-year deal to be the Manager of the LA Angels, there was a lot of upside. Maddon has won three Manager of the Year Awards (two in our league), two pennants, and a World Series Championship in his career.
Something that’s interesting about Maddon is that he’s been the manager of many different types of ballclubs in his career. He went from building a small-market Tampa Bay Rays team into a contender, to putting a talented Chicago Cubs team (but success-starved Chicago Cubs organization) over the top.
It’s a bit similar to what he walked in on with the Angels. A talented team that hasn’t reached the postseason in quite some time.
So far, it’s too early to tell if Joe Maddon has been a success for the LA Angels or not.
Was last year disappointing? Absolutely. The whole season was disappointing.
The Halos were 26-34. That would be on pace for a 70-win season over 162 games. That’s not fair, however, to make the assumption that Joe Maddon would have been a 70-win manager in 2020.
The pandemic season was about as abnormal as it could have been. 60 games with players regularly out at the most inconvenient times due to a virus dominating the whole world. Anyone evaluating that season as a legitimate year to judge Maddon on is kidding themselves.
2021 however, is where Maddon was, and deserves to be expected to produce.
Again, there’s talent on this team. The Angels have arguably the two best players in baseball, a rising Jared Walsh, a rotation they just spent money on, and Anthony Rendon is getting paid like a King.
Entering Sunday’s series finale vs. the Mariners, the Angels were 27-31. That’s an objectively bad record, especially for a team that doesn’t lack talent.
That’s also a record that has the team just five games back of a playoff spot despite their best player being hurt for the previous 18 games.
The pitching has been improving with Mickey Callaway out of the picture. He has two MVP candidates on his roster, and has really figured out how to get the most out of swiss-army knife Shohei Ohtani.
This year hasn’t been easy with his franchise player out, the Albert Pujols situation ending poorly (which was largely out of his control), and his pitching coach letting the franchise down and getting kicked from the league. Heck, the baseball Gods wouldn’t even let his players get to the games on time…
Two things can be true, and are true about Maddon. He hasn’t won many games this far in his Angels tenure, but he hasn’t had everything going his way.
It’s simply too early to tell if the Maddon signing is working out yet.