The Los Angeles Angels are looking for some positive signs after another embarrassing season. The 2023 Angels were supposed to be a team that pushed for the playoffs and convinced Shohei Ohtani they were capable of fielding a winning team. That did not happen.
The Angels hung around just enough to convince the front office to go all in at the trade deadline. The Angels parted with several of their top prospects in exchange for rentals only to immediately collapse and finish with 73 wins this season. This was the same amount of games as they won in 2022 when they sold at the deadline.
While you might not think things can get any worse, there are reasons to believe the Angels haven't hit rock bottom yet. Here are three reasons why the team will be even worse in 2024 than they were this past season.
1) Shohei Ohtani's Angels future is very much in doubt
Can Shohei Ohtani re-sign? Absolutely. I won't rule Ohtani staying until he officially joins another team. While I try to remain cautiously optimistic, Ohtani will presumably look to go somewhere where he can compete and try to win the World Series, and the Angels have shown time and time again that they're not that destination.
If Ohtani does leave, how exactly does this team improve? Sure, they should have better health and could see some of their rookies take a step forward, but Ohtani's production is virtually impossible for this team to replace.
Ohtani is going to win his second AL MVP award in the last three years, and he's going to do it with ease despite missing most of the final month of the season due to injury. At the plate, he slashed .304/.412/.654 with 44 home runs and 95 RBI. He led the AL in long balls despite not playing after September 3, and he was just three shy of tying Troy Glaus' Angels franchise record. It was easily Ohtani's best offensive season in the majors.
Ohtani on the mound wasn't quite as good as he was at the plate or even on the mound in 2022, but he was still an all-star level pitcher posting a 3.14 ERA in 23 starts and 132 innings pitched. The Angels had a subpar rotation with him, how will it fare without him? They were in the middle of the pack in runs scored with him, how will they do without him?
The Angels could go out and sign someone like J.D. Martinez to fill in as the team's DH, but he's not Ohtani. And guess what, even if Ohtani returns he won't be pitching. The rotation looks awfully weak regardless of Ohtani's status.