The 2021 season for the LA Angels certainly was ... something. On the bright side, Shohei Ohtani pitched and slugged his way to a historic MVP season. On the other end of the equation, three-time MVP Mike Trout didn't step in the batters' box after May 17 due to an injury.
The end result: A glance at the LA Angels 2021 RBI leaders is a bit cringe inducing overall.
Just two players even surpassed even 50 RBI -- Ohtani and first baseman Jared Walsh.
One of the top five was traded; another was released.
Today, we're going to take a look through that Angels RBI leaders list and see if there's anything we can learn about the 2022 season that could be helpful.
LA Angels' 2021 RBI leaders: Shohei Ohtani -- 100 RBI
Shohei Ohtani was the lone Angel to hit the 100 RBI mark on the year, and it took him until Game 162 to do so. But it didn't take long. Ohtani led off with a solo home run off Mariners starter Tyler Anderson, his 46th home run of the season.
You can do the math and see with 46 home runs, Ohtani drove in just 54 runners in his 639 plate appearances.
There's a reason for that and it's not just the Angels ineptitude overall. Ohtani led off in 23 games, batted second in 117, and batted third in six. That accounts for the entirety of his spots in the batting order.
Near the top of the lineup like that, and with the bottom of the order not exactly getting on base all that often (.246 average, .290 OBP) the opportunities were just not there.
How many RBI will Shohei Ohtani have in 2022?
2021 was Ohtani's most successful year as a major league hitter, and he was in the lineup nearly every single day of the season. So how will the 27-year-old do in 2022?
The projection systems so far are split on whether Ohtani's success is sustainable. Marcel the Monkey (read an explainer on Marcel projections here), the "dumb" system used at Baseball Reference, puts him at 80 RBI.
Steamer, which you can find at FanGraphs, is a little "smarter" system, using aging curves. Under that system, Ohtani's RBI projection is 99, with the season more or less in line with 2021.
ZiPS, the smart projection system developed by Dan Szymborski and displayed at FanGraphs, also sees Ohtani continuing his success with 101 RBI.
Ohtani should remain pretty consistent as a batter, so the best guess might just come down to figuring how much playing time you expect of Ohtani in 2022 and how healthy you believe he'll be able to be.