The narrative that the Angels are wasting Mike Trout’s career and that the Angels aren’t putting a competitive team around him is getting old and repetitive.
The Angels General Manager Billy Eppler and his front office have done a great job at filling the needs of the big league ball club while also not taking away from its future. The big league club has had trouble staying healthy and health is the name of the game in Baseball.
When GM Billy Eppler was hired as the Angels GM in October 2015, the Angels were ranked as the worst farm system in all of MLB. Keith Law, a former writer for Baseball Prospectus evaluated the Angels farm system shortly after Eppler was hired and wrote, “I’ve been doing these rankings for eight years now, and this is by far the worst system I’ve ever seen.” Eppler and the front office have now turned the Angels farm system from the “worst system” into a respectable one that is ranked just outside of the top 10 in MLB, depending on who is evaluating.
The question now is, what do the Angels need to do to get back into the postseason with two more guaranteed seasons left with Mike Trout? Outside of staying healthy there are three important things that the Angels need to do in order to get back to the promise land.
The First Thing Is Getting a Bounce Back from INF Zack Cozart
The Angels would love to get bounce backs from other players as well, but Cozart is an important piece of the infield. He appeared in only 58 games last season where he worked a slash-line of .219/.296/.362 and hit 13 doubles, 2 triples, 5 home runs with 18 RBI before under going season ending surgery in June. The Angels had signed Cozart after coming off of a career year in which he was an All-Star and worked a slash-line of .297/.385/.548 while hitting 24 doubles, 7 triples, and 24 home runs with 63 RBI. If he can produce something closer to those numbers the Angels hitting will be much better.
The Second Thing Is Hit Better Versus Lefties
The Angels were tied for last out of all 30 MLB teams with the New York Mets, with a batting average of .224. versus left handed pitching last season. This stat was surprising as the Angels didn’t have many lefty bats other than Kole Calhoun and Shohei Ohtani for much of last season. The hitters that struggled to hit lefties last season and hit way below their career averages were 1B Albert Pujols, 2B Ian Kinsler, OF Justin Upton, and OF Chris Young. Those 4 all hit .200 or worse versus lefties and Pujols hit the highest with a .200 batting average. Ian Kinsler and Chris Young are both gone and with the new hitting the coaches in Jeremy Reed and Shawn Wooten, there is optimism that the Angels will improve on their team batting average versus left handed pitching.
Finally, the Starting Pitchers Need to Go Deep into Ball Games
The Angels were ranked 29 out of 30 in MLB on the amount of innings they got from their starting pitchers. The Tampa Bay Rays were ranked last, but they used an opener so they would mostly get 1 inning out of a reliever to start the game and then bring in their starter from the bullpen. The Angels got a total of 805.1 innings from their starters while the bullpen covered 632 innings. The first few weeks of the season in 2018, the Angels were among the worst in average amount of innings from their starters with just over 4 innings. The result of that was the bullpen getting taxed and worn out just in the first month. The Angels need their pitching staff to go deep if they want to reach the postseason.
Featured Image: Kyusung Gong/Contributing Photographer