After a series win in Texas, it looked like the Los Angeles Angels were going to make a legitimate push for a postseason spot and maybe even the AL West title. Since that big series victory, the Angels have won just five of their last 14 games to fall to just three games over .500 and two games back of the last Wild Card spot in the AL.
There are two frustrating aspects of this slump. One, they've been losing even with their starting pitching improving. Tyler Anderson gave them five hard-fought scoreless frames last night against a tough Diamondbacks team and the team lost against a starting pitcher who had an ERA approaching 5.00. Two, they've lost games against beatable opponents. The Angels went 5-5 against the Royals, Rockies, and White Sox.
Outside of the 25-1 rout in Colorado, the Angels have struggled to score runs and have played some bad baseball. This has caused fans to place blame on certain players and want to see them go. Some of the blame is justified, but patience is a virtue as well. One of these scapegoats should be traded, another DFA'd, but the third one should have some patience.
1) LA Angels player scapegoat to trade: Taylor Ward
I like Taylor Ward a lot and am a believer in his abilities. I do not believe last season was a fluke and think when he has the right approach he can be really good. I just don't love the fit here with this Angels roster and with what this team is trying to do.
Last season, Ward thrived with his patient approach. He rarely swung at the first pitch and rarely chased out of the zone. Ward ranked in the 93rd percentile in chase rate last season, and that's down to the 72nd percentile in 2023. Ward swung at the first pitch 26.2% of the time last season, and that's skyrocketed to 33.8% this season. His swing percentage in general is up from 41.4% to 45.3%. These aren't small jumps.
Angels hitting coach Marcus Thames has preached aggressiveness and Ward has taken it to the extreme. It'd be nice if Ward would go back to his approach that worked, but it's already July.
Another reason why I believe Ward being traded could work out for everyone is because of Mickey Moniak. The former first overall pick has earned an everyday spot, and I'm more of a believer in Hunter Renfroe's ability to bounce back offensively than Ward. A platoon with Moniak who can't hit lefties would work, but Ward has reverse splits.
Lastly, Ward can net the Angels something decent as a guy with team control as opposed to Renfroe who is in the final year of his deal. Trade Ward in a deal for a pitcher, and play Moniak, Trout, and Renfroe every day.