The Los Angeles Angels find themselves in a tough spot. They just won 73 games this past season despite rostering the league MVP. They have since lost that MVP, Shohei Ohtani, after failing to put together a winning season a single time in their six years with him.
Despite obvious signs that they should probably rebuild, the Angels have let it be known that they're going to try and compete. While it's hard to see them doing so with no Ohtani, that doesn't mean it's impossible. The Angels do still have a good amount of talent on the roster, and there's always a good chance they add some more. The only question is how much.
For now, if the Angels do somehow surprise many and win a bunch of games in 2024, these three players will be a big reason why. If they're as bad or even worse than they were in 2023, these three players will be a big reason why. Consider them X-Factors of sort.
1) Mike Trout
Saying that the Angels will go where Mike Trout takes them is fairly obvious, but still needs to be said. Trout showed signs of decline really for the first time this past season, failing to catch up to high-velocity fastballs and seeing his numbers dip. What's most alarming, of course, is his inability to stay on the field.
Trout was mostly healthy for the first half of last season but a fractured hamate bone ended his season prematurely. He tried to return in August while the Angels were fighting but it's clear he wasn't ready, and was immediately shut down again. This is Trout's third straight year missing substantial time and as he gets older, it's hard to see that getting better before it gets worse.
The Angels need Trout more than ever. In recent years they had Ohtani there to carry the lineup when Trout missed time, but now Ohtani is no longer here to save the Angels. When healthy, Trout is the only bonafide star in this lineup and everyone else will need him to function.
Even with his numbers taking a dip this past season, Trout still played like a star. There's no denying he's a star when healthy. The Angels are going to need more than 82 games of his star production if they want to go anywhere in 2024.