The Los Angeles Angels will try and make a push for their first playoff appearance since 2014. They have the talent to do it. Shohei Ohtani and Mike Trout are superstars. Perry Minasian has finally surrounded them with quality MLB talent rather than just hoping the two of them and one aging star carries them to the promised land.
Even with all of the new additions, the Angels face an uphill battle in getting back to the postseason. The division is hard. Could be the hardest one in baseball with four teams trying to compete. The American League in general is hard with so many good to great teams. The Angels can easily win 85+ games and miss the playoffs even with the third wild card spot which would be crushing.
For the Angels to get to where they want to go, players will have to outperform their initial expectations. These three Angels players will do just that and more.
1. LA Angels outfielder Taylor Ward will be an all-star in 2023
All aboard the Taylor Ward hype train! Taylor Ward broke out in a big way last season, and I expect him to be even better in 2023.
Ward slashed .281/.360/.473 with 23 home runs and 65 RBI in 135 games. Ward dealt with a bevy of injuries last season including neck and shoulder issues after crashing into a wall making a catch. With a healthy season, there's no reason to think his first couple of months were a fluke.
Ward began the season slashing .370/.481/.713 with 9 home runs and 23 RBI before getting hurt. He then went in a three-month slump before having another dominant month of September offensively.
Ward was on track to be an all-star last season, but then got hurt and that ruined his season. His strong finish shows it was not a fluke. Ward has seven hits in 16 at-bats in Cactus League play so far with a home run off of Clayton Kershaw and five RBI. He's been arguably the best hitter on the team.
I don't expect Ward to have the gaudy numbers he had in April and May over a six-month season, but I do expect better total numbers than he had last season. He will be a huge piece to the Angels success in 2023.