The LA Angels were 6-13 against the Houston Astros in 2021. It was ugly whenever our injury-depleted roster went up against the AL West champions. Unfortunately, the reasons behind these failures were quite complex. The lazy answer would be to just point to poor pitching. The reality isn't exactly that.
Sure, the staff DID give up 6.2 runs per game to the Astros offense, and that needs to change. That being said, the offense only fought back with three per game of their own. Surprisingly, this gives me hope for what our matchups against Houston can bring next year.
That's because our lineup last year was less than even a shell of what it's going to be in 2022. We had two of LA's top four hitters out for the year in Mike Trout and Anthony Rendon. Even when Rendon was playing, he wasn't healthy, as has been revealed. Next year, the Angels will have a healthy version of both Rendon and Trout, which is of course going to put the Angels in contention for one of the best lineups in baseball.
The LA Angels lineup can compete with an offense scoring 6.2 runs per game against our pitching staff.
Not only will the LA Angels get the best player in baseball back in Trout, but they will also get an All-Star caliber player back in Rendon as well. The last time Rendon was healthy, he did not earn the $35 million in average annual value that he signed up for. That being said, he still hit a solid .286/.418/.497 (.915 OPS) with a real strong 150 OPS+. He was on pace for 35 doubles and 91 RBIs if we played a full 162 games in 2020.
That's not even the Rendon we signed up for. It goes to show that even if Rendon isn't his 2019 self, he'll still be a really nice addition to the lineup. And as for Trout, he's going to have a monster year. He was playing the best baseball of his career last season before he went down, hitting .333/.466/.624 (1.090 OPS) and was on pace for 36 home runs and 102 runs scored. Not to mention, he raked against the Astros. In his five games against Houston last year, he had a .500 on-base percentage, slugged .692, hit two home runs, drove in three RBIs and scored three runs.
That's not to mention Justin Upton having to miss extended time as well last season. And like Rendon, even in Upton's return to the diamond, he wasn't healthy and had to be shut down for the season as well. While Upton has been a disappointment since 2019, he was on a roll before he got injured, quietly hitting 14 home runs and scoring 40 runs in 63 games. He had an .816 OPS, and hit .326/.420/.600 (1.020 OPS) with six home runs and 25 RBIs in the month before his injury.
Now that the Angels lineup is finally healthy again, they are more than capable of keeping up with an offense that's scoring 6.2 runs per game against them. They have the two best offensive players in baseball in Trout and Shohei Ohtani, the No. 1 bounce-back candidate in baseball in Rendon, another bounce-back candidate in a contract year for Upton, and a consistent All-Star who rakes in Jared Walsh.
This is not even to mention two young outfielders in Jo Adell and Brandon Marsh who are oozing with offensive potential and a catcher who's posted a 112 OPS+ in these last two years in Max Stassi. It's going to be hard for anyone in the AL West to match this offense.