Taylor Ward is off to a crazy start to season after overcoming scary injury

The Angels couldn't know if Taylor Ward could return to his former form. So far, he has been even better than he was before his brutal HBP.
Los Angeles Angels v Miami Marlins
Los Angeles Angels v Miami Marlins / Megan Briggs/GettyImages

When Los Angeles Angels outfielder Taylor Ward took a fastball to his head back in July 2023, no one was thinking about baseball in that moment. Baseballs are hard and the human body is not, so there is always a chance that a guy could get seriously hurt on any given pitch. In Ward's case, the pitch resulted in multiple plates being inserted to heal his broken face and his 2023 season ending on the spot.

In a lot of ways, the injury meant that Ward wasn't on a lot of people's radars at the start of spring training this year. Everyone was wondering how Mike Trout was going to look, if Anthony Rendon was going to do anything at all, and if Zach Neto and Nolan Schanuel could produce at the big league level after such little experience in the minors. Ward's spring training wasn't all that great, either, and some wondered if it could take a while for him to get all the way back (if he could at all).

Six games into the 2024 regular season, Ward has surpassed all expectations, and his hot start gives hope that the 2024 season might not be so bad after all.

Taylor Ward's unexpected hot start is exactly what the LA Angels needed

With Ward off to the start he is, no longer is there concern that he will be too passive or scared at the plate to produce at a high level. Given that the Angels have a roster that has a lot of question marks and/or young players, having a consistent offensive threat in Ward (with his 1.080 OPS through six games) is a huge reason why the Angels are off to a competent start.

More importantly, Ward's successful return provides some needed roster clarity. Before he returned, there were too many moving parts with this position player group of the Angels, especially with Ward's recovery uncertain. Now, it may be easier to stomach having to DFA guy without any options left because you know that you are set at Ward's roster spot again.

The only caveat here is that we haven't really seen teams aggressively test Ward's response to being pitched up and in yet. It would be an entirely human thing to have a bit of a setback mentally if he has an HBP close call and that could derail him. However, all indications are that Ward is more than comfortable at the plate right now, which is exactly what the Angels needed this year.

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