3 Angels players who could be the difference between success and failure in 2024

Consider these players the team's X-Factors.
Aug 22, 2023; Anaheim, California, USA;  Los Angeles Angels center fielder Mike Trout (27) walks
Aug 22, 2023; Anaheim, California, USA; Los Angeles Angels center fielder Mike Trout (27) walks / Kiyoshi Mio-USA TODAY Sports
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2) Carlos Estevez

In the first half, there were few relievers who performed better than Carlos Estevez who was as big of a surprise as any in the 2023 season. The right-hander had a 1.80 ERA in 36 appearances, converting 21 saves without blowing a single opportunity. The Angels were 30-6 when he took the ball. He was lights out and a huge reason they stayed competitive for as long as they did.

The second half was a completely different story for this right-hander who posted a 6.59 ERA in 27 appearances, converting 10 saves in 14 opportunities. Blown saves in August against the Mariners and Giants were highlights of the late-season collapse. Estevez's stuff looked a lot more hittable, and his command disappeared.

Which version of Estevez will we see in 2024? That might be the difference for the Angels. This team won't be good enough to overcome an Estevez who blows save after save. They can, however, surprise people if he's as good as he is in the first half. Probably unlikely, but we've seen him do it before.

While it can be argued that Estevez does not deserve to be the team's closer after what transpired down the stretch, it's unlikely they replace him at least this offseason. It's possible they do so midseason if he struggles, but this feels like his job to lose. It's on him to take it and run for this team to be competitive.