The LA Angels had a much different year than we expected.
A 77-85 season was not on our minds this time around, and that’s what we got.
We went through a lot as fans this year. Our franchise player in Mike Trout went down for four and a half months, another $35 million man in Anthony Rendon missed over 100 games, and another big-money player in Justin Upton either missed time due to injury or was hindered due to injury. Our pitching coach got busted for sexual misconduct so we sent him packing, and our pitching couldn’t recover.
While this season was a bit of a drag, we still did have some things go right. Things could be worse as Angels fans.
Shohei Ohtani gave LA Angels fans something to watch all year long, even when we were losing.
No matter what team one is a fan of, everybody could use a Shohei Ohtani. Everyone would love an excuse to cheer for the sure-to-be AL MVP.
Opposing fans even booed their own teams for intentionally walking him, as even in the heat of competition, they still wanted to watch him compete.
Hailing from Japan, he’s become a global sensation. He had one of the two greatest seasons in baseball history, and made history seemingly every night.
He turned into a true Ace on the mound, and the best offensive player in baseball. We always knew he had tremendous potential, and this was the year he truly broke out on both sides of the ball. He also played the outfield, and proved himself to be the fastest baserunner in the American League.
The best player in baseball of the last ten years went down for our team, and we responded by turning Ohtani into the best player of this year. This team is going to be so good next year with that duo at the top of the lineup.
Also, we saw Jared Walsh emerge. We saw it a bit last year, but not for a very strong sample size. We were already in a shortened 60-game season, and Walsh only played 32 games.
This year, Walsh played in 144 and established himself as one of the best defensive first basemen in MLB. He also was an All-Star and played left field for the All-Star team. He’s good over there, and saved the game for the AL.
Offensively, he was tremendous. He slugged .509 and hit for an .850 OPS. He hit 34 doubles, 29 home runs, and drove in 98 runs despite playing in an injury-ravaged lineup.
As far as the overall numbers went, he again really shined. He posted a 2.57 ERA, an 0.929 WHIP, a career-low 1.5 walks per nine innings rate, and a career-high 13.2 strikeouts per nine innings rate. He was elite, and needs to be brought back this offseason.
One of the best closers in baseball, he tied a career high in saves at 34.
So it wasn’t all bad for Angels fans. We had the chance to watch some great players, even when many of our great players were taken away from us.
If we can nail this offseason, we’re going to be scary next year.