For much of this disappointing 2023 season when the Los Angeles Angels were healthy, offense has not been the issue. The team was inside the top ten in all of baseball for much of the season in runs scored, and despite finishing out the season extremely shorthanded, the Angels rank 16th in the majors in runs scored.
Their approach was maddening at times, often being too reliant on the home run ball, but they did score runs. The pitching is what really did the Angels in this season when the team was healthy. Their rotation ERA went from sixth in the majors last season to 20th this season. That's a huge issue.
If the Angels find an unlikely way to improve drastically with their rotation next season, we could be talking about a team that competes. That is if the team finds a way to re-sign Shohei Ohtani. Unfortunately, the chances of that happening are slim.
Assuming Ohtani walks, the Angels lineup for the 2024 season for players who are currently under contract isn't all that bad assuming it can be healthy. There's talent from top to bottom and there are a bunch of young players to be excited about.
Projecting the LA Angels 2024 lineup with players currently under contract
If we're only looking at players who are under contract for the 2024 season that means Shohei Ohtani will not be a part of the starting nine. Other upcoming free agents like Mike Moustakas, Gio Urshela, and Randal Grichuk to name a few will also be left off.
1. Nolan Schanuel - 1B
2. Mike Trout - CF
3. Brandon Drury - 2B
4. Anthony Rendon - 3B
5. Mickey Moniak - RF
6. Logan O'Hoppe - C
7. Taylor Ward - LF
8. Luis Rengifo - DH
9. Zach Neto - SS
It should be pointed out that this lineup is only against right-handed pitching. Mickey Moniak will certainly not be starting against lefties, at least not with players under contract currently. That spot would presumably be Jo Adell's.
From top to bottom, there is talent here. There might not be a ton of superstar talent, but there is clear potential. The top three of Schanuel, Trout, and Drury has a unique mix of on-base ability at the top and power with Trout and Drury. If Anthony Rendon can finally be healthy (hard ask) he's proven to be great with runners in scoring position as well. Rendon and Drury were the two best in big spots for a while this season when Rendon was healthy.
Mickey Moniak has had a breakout year against right-handed pitching and would fit in nicely in the fifth spot. Logan O'Hoppe has been awesome when he's played and provides a ton of power. The only issue I'd have with that five-six part of the order is there're a ton of strikeouts between the two of these players.
Rounding out the order the Angels have Taylor Ward, Luis Rengifo, and Zach Neto. While Ward can hit leadoff, hit numbers were better when he was hitting lower in the order this past season. If he can heal from his scary injury he'd be a force in the seven-hole.
Rengifo I have as the Ohtani replacement at DH. Obviously, there is no replacing an MVP in the order, but with the way Rengifo finished his season there's no way he can be left out if the roster remains the same. He was simply too good for too long. With Zach Neto hitting ninth he has the chance to continue to grow as a hitter and become even better.
How well this Angels group does offensively depends on the health and ability of Mike Trout and Anthony Renodn. If they can stay healthy, this can be a unit that pushes top-10 in runs scored. If they don't, and unfortunately there isn't much of a reason to believe they will, the productivity will decline exponentially. Still, it's a fun, young group to root for.