4 struggling Angels players who need to improve before drastic decisions happen

The Angels are hanging around in 2024 so far, but these guys need to play better for the team to put together a decent season.
Los Angeles Angels v Tampa Bay Rays
Los Angeles Angels v Tampa Bay Rays / Julio Aguilar/GettyImages

The Los Angeles Angels have defied expectations so far in 2024. Despite the fact that they lost a generational player in Shohei Ohtani this past offseason and had a roster that looked like it was being held together by Elmer's glue and a couple well-placed staples, the Angels are still hovering around .500 and are in second place in the surprisingly bad AL West.

A large portion of that has been good fortune along with a couple of guys carrying the bulk of the load. Mike Trout looks like Mike Trout again, Taylor Ward has been fantastic coming off his injury, and Reid Detmers looks like he could be a legitimate Cy Young candidate.

However, there are some guys who have not been pulling their weight, and if the Angels want to keep hopes of a decent season alive, they either need to get better soon or LA may need to make some changes.

Here are some of the Angels players who need to turn things around soon

This shouldn't be seen an opportunity to point out Angels players that we already knew were going to be on the struggle bus. Yes, Anthony Rendon hasn't been very good once again despite batting leadoff, but fans should probably be thankful that he has managed to post his .308 OBP and not hurt himself. This is about the guys the Angels were hoping to get real production out of and who have fallen short so far this season. We are still talking about a really small sample of games thus far, so there is still time for them to figure things out, but letting their struggles leak into the summer is probably going to be costly in the wins column.

Nolan Schanuel

It wasn't that long ago that the Angels were talking about making Nolan Schanuel their leadoff hitter. That in itself was wild considering LA only drafted Schanuel in the first round just last year. However, Schanuel impressed the Angels so much in the minors that he ended up getting 132 plate appearances in the big leagues last year and put up a very respectable 112 wRC+.

Unfortunately, Schanuel has not been able to replicate his offensive success from last year in 2024. There is a real argument to be made that Zach Neto should be in this spot as he's also been putrid at the plate this year, but he is much more difficult to replace defensively and he is providing value in the field. On the flip side, Schanuel provides little value with his glove and position and the one thing the Angels need him to do -- hit -- hasn't happened at all as he's slashing .160/.295/.220. Right now, he looks like a patient hitter who needs more time in the minors. The longer he struggles, the more likely that that is exactly where he is headed again.

Mickey Moniak

The Angels' outfield was in such a weird spot coming into the season. Mike Trout and Taylor Ward were locks, but the combination of a lack of minor league options and the signing of Aaron Hicks made those third/fourth outfield spots a tricky situation. With how much Mickey Moniak has struggled to start the 2024 season, that roster situation may be taking care of itself after all.

Through 16 games this season, Moniak has a 53 wRC+ at the plate, which is truly terrible after he looked like he had a career resurgence in 2023 when he slashed .280/.307/.495 for the Angels. The problem is that last season was the only year Moniak has looked like a big leaguer at the plate, and with Jo Adell outplaying Moniak so far (although he hasn't been great), Moniak could end up losing the battle of the Angels outfielders who are out of minor league options, especially since LA bet on Hicks' 2023 tenure with the Orioles being real.

Griffin Canning

Everyone agrees that when he is right, Griffin Canning could be a really exciting rotation arm. He has generally missed bats since his 2019 debut, his off-speed stuff has always graded out well, and he was a highly regarded pitching draft prospect when the Angels picked him back in 2017. However, injuries have derailed Canning in his career and given the way things are trending, he may need to consider a move to the bullpen.

In Canning's four starts in 2024, he has posted a ghastly 8.05 ERA with a noticeable drop-off in his strikeout rate in addition to hitters making better contact against him. His 5.39 FIP does seem to indicate that he is getting a little unlucky when it comes to batted ball luck, but that is going to happen when the quality of said batted balls is higher. LA doesn't have other great options at starting pitcher right now, but Canning could be on the chopping block if one does present itself.

Jose Cisnero

While no one should have expected Jose Cisnero to be a shutdown high-leverage reliever when the Angels went out and signed him to a one-year, $1.75 million deal, they did certainly hope that he could be a serviceable middle reliever like he was for the vast majority of his time with the Tigers. Unfortunately, the early returns on the Angels' modest investment in him have been decidedly not great.

The 35-year-old Cisnero has posted a 7.56 ERA in nine appearances this season and has only made the Angels' strikeout-challenged bullpen get even more taxed as he can't be relied upon. There were signs last year that Father Time may be catching up with Cisnero, and given his struggles and how little money he is making, don't be surprised if the Angels pivot elsewhere if he can't figure out how to get opposing batters from squaring up everything.

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