The Los Angeles Angels are 9-9 to begin this crucial season. 9-9 obviously isn't bad, but the team should be much better. They've thrown games away that they should've won because of a variety of reasons. Poor baserunning, bad errors, blown games from the bullpen, it feels like we've seen it all and we're just 18 games in.
We didn't expect this Angels team to have an elite bullpen, although it's been great of late. We didn't expect this team to be great defensively as they prioritized offense after finishing 25th in runs scored last season. We didn't expect this team to be the best on the bases as they lack a ton of team speed (the addition of Zach Neto helps).
What this team should do is score runs. They should be among the league leaders in runs scored, yet they're tied for 12th in that category. There's one glaring reason why.
The LA Angels are struggling mightily with runners in scoring position and that has to change
The Angels have been fine getting players on base as their .330 team OBP ranks 12th in the league. They've even been mostly fine with runners on base as their .264 team batting average in those spots ranks 14th in the league. Their issue is their hitting with runners in scoring position. That has been absolutely dreadful from the start.
The Angels are hitting .220 with runners in scoring position. That's 26th in the league, ahead of the Athletics, Tigers, Padres, and Royals. The Padres should be a great team, but the Angels don't want to be anywhere near Oakland, Detroit, or Kansas City. This is astonishing because this team really shouldn't be that low with the personnel on the roster.
The Angels have two of the best players in baseball in Shohei Ohtani and Mike Trout. Ohtani is performing like the star he is in these spots despite only having 11 RBI as he's hitting .350 with runners in scoring position. Trout, on the other hand, is not. He has two hits in 11 at-bats with runners in scoring position (.182 average).
Taylor Ward, another crucial part of this team has two hits in 16 at-bats with runners in scoring position. That's a .125 average, and he's driven in just seven runs this season.
Even Hunter Renfroe, the team leader in RBI, has five hits in 23 at-bats with runners in scoring position (.217 average). Outside of Ohtani, the Angels don't have a single player hitting over .300 with runners in scoring position. Gio Urshela is hitting .278, he's the closest. (All stats via FanGraphs).
Anthony Rendon gets a pass, as his three sacrifice flies lead the league, but the Angels, for the most part, continue to lack the big hit.
Last night the team had one hit in 15 at-bats with runners in scoring position. It's incredibly hard to win baseball games like that. This is why the offense has been inconsistent at best, and it will continue that way until they can get a clutch hit. I don't know what the solution is. I don't know if the players are pressing too much in big spots. What I do know is this needs to change. It only takes one game and it can be contagious. But it has to change.