The Angels Look GOOD. Spot on or Overreaction?

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The Angels Look Good

So it’s begun: Spring training is underway and fans have piled into Arizona and Florida to watch their beloved big-leaguers gear up for the classic 162-game marathon. Kids can be seen sprinting to catch foul balls and homers, while adults lounge on the sloping green grass enjoying the festivities with buckets of popcorn in hand. For baseball fanatics, this is also the time to make very necessary overreactions about their beloved teams. Studying the crystal ball to see what it might hold in store for their beloved squads. So let’s begin. The new and improved Los Angeles Angels look GOOD. That’s not an overreaction. It’s spot on.

The Angels, one of those teams that are gearing up for the long season, have shown many signs of promise. They’ve revamped the “blowpen”, which was notorious for blowing leads late in the game, blowing 26 saves last season. The Angels signed stud lefty Aaron Loup away from the New York Mets and also signed righty Archie Bradley, who had a tough 2021. They picked up quality righty Ryan Tepera, who posted a 2.79 ERA in 65 games with the Chicago Cubs and Chicago White Sox last season. Furthermore, they also re-signed Raisel Iglesias, who was absolutely nails for the Angels in late innings. Iglesias posted a 2.57 ERA and racked up 34 saves. Iggy’s 34 saves were ranked fifth among major league relievers.

Not only do the Angels have a revamped bullpen, they also have a stacked lineup to go along with better starting pitching. The Angels have looked good so far during spring training and have a shot at being the “Beast of the AL West”. Let’s break it down.

Studs of the Future

Let’s establish something right off the bat: Jo Adell and Brandon Marsh are absolute STUDS. Spot on or Overreaction? Spot on. They’ve got it all: power, speed, and defense. Last Friday, Jo Adell clobbered a two-run homer to left-center field. On Tuesday, Adell followed up with a solo shot to dead center field – over the batter’s eye. This Saturday, Adell went 2-for-2, hitting a two-run bomb to left center field and swiping two bags. Brandon Marsh followed suit in the top of the 3rd with an opposite field seed to left field. Last Friday, Marsh showcased some speed as he went 1st to 3rd on a single to center field hit by Luis Rengifo.

Marsh demonstrates an aggressiveness that manager Joe Maddon approves of saying, “we’ve been emphasizing [aggressive baserunning]… that’s a perfect example of the kind of baseball we want to play.” Already we can tell how Maddon wants to manage the team this year: aggressive baseball with, as Maddon phrases it, “in-school” methods; meaning old-school and new-school baseball put together. Maddon has the guys that will live out his philosophy. Adell’s sprint speed ranks in the 98th percentile, while Marsh’s sprint speed ranks in the 95th percentile. Marsh and Adell are both threats on the bases, but what makes them even more special is the ability to hit for power, and defend their positions well. They evenly balance out the lineup so the team isn’t too top heavy. It makes the lineup even more dangerous. 

The future studs of the Angels look good. That’s not an overreaction — it’s spot on.

Archangels

The Angels core of Mike Trout, Shohei Ohtani, Anthony Rendon, and Jared Walsh look poised and ready to carry their team to the promised land. 

Shohei Ohtani

Man, does Ohtani look good! The reigning AL MVP is back to his stellar two-way monkey business. Last Saturday, Ohtani stepped in the box in Tempe, Arizona and went 1-for-2 with an RBI single to right field. For the Angels, that’s a terrific sign. The ability to go to right will be MASSIVE for Ohtani. There’s no doubt with Trout batting behind him that Ohtani will see a ton of outside-corner pitches, and being able to adjust and go with the outside pitch will be crucial to getting on base. On Saturday, March 26th, against the White Sox on the first pitch of the game, Ohtani crushed a homer to right-center field. Demonstrating some of that power we saw all last season. 

Not only has Shohei shown signs of improvement at the plate, but on Monday he took the mound – and boy did “the Sho” look locked in; Fierce. Dangerous. Hard to say how, but Ohtani looks even better pitching than he did last year, and the guy put up a 3.1 ERA with 156 strikeouts – with the best pitch in baseball, his splitter –  while also cranking 46 homers and driving in 100. 

Ohtani’s Pitch Arsenal

Ohtani’s fastball looked very lively, utilizing it to jam Kansas City’s batters and running it by them to rack up a strikeout. Ohtani, again, showed signs of being one of the most creative pitchers in baseball. He utilized his curve to start hitters off, his splitter – the best pitch in baseball –  to get back into the count, and his slider to catch hitters looking.

Most of all, he looked like he was having fun out there. Enjoying his first spring training start since 2021, racking up five strikeouts while allowing three hits and one earned run. Ohtani demonstrated the ability to “fill the zone.” He struggled to throw strikes early in the 2021 season, but later in the season he was able to use his creativity to throw more strikes. His talents on the mound and at the plate will be much needed if the Angels want a shot at the playoffs.

Mike Trout

Nothing could make a baseball fan happier than seeing Mike Trout on the baseball field again. Understatement? Yes. The king of baseball has returned! After a freak calf injury that sidelined him the majority of the 2021 season, he was back in action Saturday in Tempe. Trout went 2-for-2 with two singles to left. On Monday, Trout went 1-for-2 with another base knock. Tuesday, Trout went 0-for-3 with a walk and a sacrifice fly. Trout has picked up where he left off pre-injury. At that time he was leading the majors in OPS and was Top Five in batting average. It is fair to say that Trout looks very healthy. Running well, seeing the ball and swinging the bat well, and tracking balls down in the outfield well. From the small sample spring training has given us, Trout looks good. It wouldn’t be far-fetched to say that Trout is coming back with a vengeance and might be on the road to a fourth MVP award. 

Jared Walsh

Jared Walsh solidified himself as the Angels first-baseman as soon as Albert Pujols exited the door. In 2021, Walsh had an all-star season, cranking 29 homers and driving in 98. Not only is Walsh a great addition to the lineup, but he is also a very sound first-baseman. On Tuesday, Walsh hammered a no-doubter to right-center. Fans can always tell when Walsh gets a hold of one: he drops the bat and starts walking like he owns the joint. 

Anthony Rendon

Anthony Rendon is considered a top-five third baseman in baseball and the best offensive third baseman in baseball by many. Rendon is what we like to call “co-king of the at-bat” (he shares this title with Juan Soto). Those who have watched Rendon know he can scrape and fight and put together great at-bats. He will foul off pitch after pitch until he finally shoots a ball up the middle or off the wall for a double. Tuesday was the first Rendon sighting. He went 1-for-3 with a single to left and an RBI. On Thursday, he went 1-for-2 with a double. His hip seems to be completely fine, demonstrating good health as he made some plays over at the hot corner. Rendon looks the same as any other season: calm as ever and ready to hit. 

The “Archangels” of the Angels look good, that’s not an overreaction, it’s definitely spot on.

Starting Pitching

We all know the Angels have suffered from pitching woes throughout the last several seasons. The front office knew that this offseason had to be different if they were going to try and give their superstars a chance to compete in the playoffs. 

Michael Lorenzen

The Angels gave Michael Lorenzen an opportunity for a starting role when he was picked up by the Angels in free agency. He’s tried two-way play before, but looks as if he will be totally committed to mound work for the Angels in 2021. Last Friday, Michael showed much promise, pitching two innings and retiring all six batters he faced, two via strikeout. He showcased an excellent changeup that plays off of his effective fastball as well as a curveball he can throw for a strike. Lorenzen will be a huge piece in the rotation if the Angels want to be in a good playoff position deep into the season. If Lorenzen can eat innings and get outs, look out, because with the revamped bullpen the Angels might shut teams down. 

Reid Detmers

Last Sunday, Reid Detmers showed an amazing feel for his curveball. He utilized it to drop in strikes here and there and to play off of his fastball that he runs in to hitters. His curveball, which sometimes appears to be a slurve, seems to be his best pitch. Detmers struck out five batters that Sunday, four of them on curveballs. If Detmers can continue being effective with his fastball and use the curve as the put-away pitch, the Angels will have a dependable guy that will make huge contributions to the pitching staff. 

Other Contributions

Tyler Wade

The Angels also carry some pesky players that are sure to annoy teams later in the season. Speed demon Tyler Wade is extremely fast. He can drop down a bunt and give the defense no chance to throw him out, as he’s shown this spring. He’s also a maniac on the bases. 

Captain Jack

Jack Mayfield has shown to be a very important depth piece. Last Saturday, Captain Jack smacked a three-run homer to left field. In 2021, in the absence of Rendon, Mayfield showed he can play third. We also saw signs of him being able to handle the bat. If the Angels ever need to give Rendon a break, they’ve got a guy to step up. 

Max Stassi

Max Stassi is by far the Angels’ best catcher. This statement backed up by the fact that the Angels gave Max a three-year extension Thursday. He is very capable of handling business behind the plate as well as in the box. In the third game of spring training, Stassi hit a two-run homer to dead center field. Stassi showed tons of pop last season with the Angels, and he’ll be able to contribute sneaky pop this year again that will balance out the Angels lineup nicely. 

Depth pieces

As for other depth pieces, Rengifo, Jose Rojas, and Taylor Ward have sneaky power as well. Taylor Ward has two bombs under his belt this spring, homering last Saturday and Thursday. They’ve also shown they are able to defend their positions as well. The depth pieces for the Angels look good — simply not an overreaction, but simply spot on.

There’s Hope for the Halos

Overall, the Angels have shown great signs of promise in pitching, offense, and aggressiveness both at the plate and on the bases. Every player is making a contribution. Maddon seems to believe in his team and has a plan in place that he wants to execute in the upcoming season.

They’ve added starting pitching and relief pitching, brought back star players Mike Trout and Anthony Rendon from injuries, and have developed young studs. Not only that, but they’ve picked up great depth pieces to complement the team. To summarize, the Angels look good. They should definitely be contending for a division championship and hopefully much more than that — not an overreaction, but spot on.

Main Photo:

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Players mentioned:

Aaron Loup, Archie Bradley, Ryan Tepera, Raisel Iglesias, Jo Adell, Brandon Marsh, Luis Rengifo, Joe Maddon, Mike Trout, Shohei Ohtani, Anthony Rendon, Jared Walsh, Michael Lorenzen, Reid Detmers, Tyler Wade, Jack Mayfield, Max Stassi, Jose Rojas, Taylor Ward