The Los Angeles Angels will enter the 2024 season with no expectations following the departure of Shohei Ohtani. The Angels failed to put a winning season together with the two-way superstar, so they won't be expected to do so in their first season without him.
The Angels have played the last couple of years with heightened expectations, expecting to win with Ohtani and Trout but they've won just 73 games in each of the last two seasons and things could get worse before they get better. Especially if they don't make major moves this offseason.
While the Angels hope to stay competitive and maybe even squeak into a playoff spot, that seems unrealistic to predict as of now. However, here are five other bold predictions that feel a bit more realistic as the Angels prepare to head to Tempe, Arizona for Spring Training in just about a month.
1) Nolan Schanuel wins the AL Rookie of the Year Award
Part of the reason the Angels don't have a great farm system is because in recent years they've rushed players up to the majors very quickly and they lose prospect status because of it. Players like Zach Neto and Nolan Schanuel would probably still be in the minors if they played elsewhere, but Angels fans have gotten a glimpse of both of these players thanks to the Angels being ultra-aggressive.
Schanuel appeared in the majors for the Angels this past season despite being selected in the MLB Draft just a couple of months prior. Despite his obvious inexperience in professional baseball, all Schanuel did was impress when given the chance.
The 21-year-old reached base in all 29 games he appeared in, posting a .402 OPS in his brief Angels stint. Pitchers might throw him more strikes knowing he has an eagle eye, but that just means Schanuel will get more pitches to hit and would theoretically do some serious damage.
The first base spot appears to be his without any competition. A player with rookie eligibility starting the year as an everyday player means he's got a good chance at winning the Rookie of the Year Award even if he isn't super highly-touted. Players like Evan Carter and Jackson Holliday are probably the favorites, but Schanuel as the Angels' leadoff hitter will win the award.