Several things have to go right for the Los Angeles Angels to get back to the postseason in 2023. Mike Trout has to be healthier. The young starting pitchers have to take a step forward. The bullpen has to be better. There's one big X-Factor that'll play a big role in the Angels success in 2023.
Anthony Rendon is the Angels biggest X-Factor in the 2023 season.
When Anthony Rendon signed a seven-year $245 million dollar deal with the Angels, they thought they'd be getting a superstar. Rendon was coming off a season where he slashed .319/.412/.598 with 34 home runs and a league-leading 126 RBI in 2019. He was an all-star, won a Silver Slugger, and was an MVP finalist, finishing third in the balloting. Rendon's Nationals won the World Series with him hitting third as the best position player on the roster.
In Rendon's first year with the Halos he was really good He slashed .286/.418/.497 with nine home runs and 31 RBI. He played in 52 of the Angels' 60 games and finished 10th in the AL MVP balloting.
Since then, things have gone very downhill. He played in just 58 games in 2021 and 47 this past season. His production in the small sample hasn't been good. It's been incredibly disappointing. His contract looks like one of the worst the Angels have ever given out just three years into it.
Since he returned from his wrist injury, he should be fully healthy right now and going through a normal offseason. Since he's barely played in the last three seasons, his body should be fresh and ready to go. The Angels would really benefit from Rendon being anything close to what he once was.
If the Angels do get a version of the elite Anthony Rendon, suddenly they add another all-star to a deep lineup. They have three of the game's best players with Trout, Ohtani, and Rendon all hitting in succession.
Do I expect him to win an MVP or even be in the conversation? Absolutely not. I do however, expect him to be really good if he can just stay on the field.
The best way to get Rendon to stay healthy and perform well is at this point by giving him days off. It's not ideal when the player is as good as Rendon is, but his health is the most important thing. They now have the ability to do that without completely sacrificing a spot in the lineup thanks to the Gio Urshela trade and Brandon Drury signing.
If Rendon does go down with an injury, they have the talent to tread water. If Rendon is healthy and producing, suddenly the ceiling of this team is much higher. That is why Anthony Rendon is the X-Factor for the 2023 Angels.