The Los Angeles Angels enter one of the most important seasons in the history of their franchise. They haven't made the playoffs in the last eight seasons. They haven't finished above .500 in the last seven. Owner Arte Moreno could be selling the team very soon. Their two-way superstar, Shohei Ohtani, could potentially leave if things go wrong once again.
It's safe to say, this season is playoffs or bust for the Angels. This is how it's been for the last couple of years, but the ramifications are very serious now. Ohtani is very likely to walk if they don't make the playoffs or at least remain competitive for the entire season.
Bradford Doolittle of ESPN ran 10,000 simulations using player projections from Steamer on FanGraphs. In this article (subscription required) he ranked all 30 teams based on projected wins or the average wins during the simulations. He included playoffs and World Series odds, aggression rank, and improvement rank.
Doolittle's projection has the Angels as the most mediocre team in the league
If the simulations play out in the 2023 campaign, the Angels will finish 81-81, third in the AL West, and 15th overall. That's just about as average as a team can be.
He believes the Angels are one of the most improved teams in the league, ranking them 7th in that category and 6th in aggression. While that record prediction is disappointing, it's not too far-fetched.
I believe this Angels team has a 79-80 win floor and an 89-90 win ceiling. They will probably land somewhere in the middle and compete for a playoff spot.
They won 73 last season with a bevy of injuries. They now have made many additions and addressed the team's biggest holes. The roster is not perfect and won't end up being perfect.
The Angels have a 31% chance at making the playoffs according to this prediction and a 1% chance to win it all. The teams ahead of the Angels in the division are the Astros and Mariners. The surprising thing is they only have the Mariners pegged for 83 wins. The Angels have made ground on Seattle thanks to their uninspiring (with the exception of the Teoscar Hernandez addition) offseason.
I think the Angels can finish anywhere from second to fourth in what should be a very good AL West, and this prediction seems to agree. Texas is projected to win 79.5 games with a 24% chance at the postseason. If things go right for them, they could easily pass the Angels or Seattle.
Overall, I think this prediction makes sense. It's disappointing that they don't have the Angels as a playoff team right now, but there's also hope to get there. They have the Mariners getting in as the third Wild Card team finishing just two games ahead of the Halos. The Phillies made it there (and won the Pennant) with 87 wins last season. Can the Angels get some fluke wins and sneak their way in? We shall see!