While the team never really took off, several Los Angeles Angels players got off to great starts this season.
Logan O'Hoppe looked like he was well on his way to an AL Rookie of the Year award before injuring his non-throwing shoulder which will sideline him for most, if not the entire rest of the season. Shohei Ohtani looked spotless on the mound and had a 0.64 ERA through his first five starts. Things have flipped for him as well, despite looking a bit better of late.
The team has remained slightly above, below, or at .500 pretty much the entire season because of certain players who have exceeded their preseason expectations. They've remained close to .500 for most of the year partially because of some players who got off to lackluster starts. Thankfully, some of them have turned that around.
1) LA Angels catcher Matt Thaiss has turned around his slow start to the season
It's no secret that I wanted Matt Thaiss DFA'd. I'm not ashamed of it, I thought it was completely justified when looking at how his career had been trending, and with how abysmal of a start he got off to this season. Ever since I wrote about wanting him gone, Thaiss has absolutely flipped the script and is one of the main reasons this team has remained competitive even with Logan O'Hoppe out.
Thaiss began his season going hitless in 12 at-bats with seven strikeouts. He was playing sparingly because of how well O'Hoppe was playing, but Thaiss looked completely overmatched at the plate. The defense was always going to be a question, but Thaiss made the team and was a first round pick because of his bat.
While he wasn't doing anything offensively, his glove was what caused me to really want him gone. He committed two catchers interferences in the same inning at Fenway Park, and that helped Boston beat the Angels. I felt he was doing nothing with the bat and had just cost the team with his glove, so why was he still here?
Fortunately, the Angels stuck with him because Thaiss has saved his career since that rough night in Boston.
He recorded his first hit of the season in a late-April game against the Royals. Since getting that first hit, he's slashed .338/.392/.479 with two home runs and 12 RBI in 79 plate appearances. He doesn't have the power O'Hoppe has, but Thaiss has come up with some very key hits while not costing the Angels games defensively.
I expected the catcher spot to be similar to what it was in 2022 when it had virtually no offensive production, but Chad Wallach and particularly Matt Thaiss have made sure that this wouldn't be the case.