For the first time in what seems like forever, the Los Angeles Angels are winning, and they’re winning big. For the first time in what seems like forever, the Angels pitching staff is shoving lineups left and right; up and down. The Halos offense is relentless, and the stars have all finally started to click at the same time. The Angels rank 1st in HRs, 1st in OPS, 1st in SLG, 1st in wRC+, 2nd in OBP and 5th in BA. The pitching staff ranks Top 5 in BB/9, 11th in K/BB, 4th in BA opp, and 4th in WHIP. Unlike the past several seasons, there definitely seem to be Angels in the outfield.
Angels in the Box
At the beginning of the season, Angels fans had reason to worry. Shohei Ohtani, Mike Trout, and Anthony Rendon – the Halos three biggest stars – combined to go 4-for-48 during the first few games. What were the Angels if these three were struggling? It seemed as if this was going to be another painful start to the season for Angels fans.
A Spark of Trout
But then something happened. Mike Trout started heating up. On April 14th, as the Halos lost to the Texas Rangers and were then 3-4, Mike Trout started his own little trend. He went on a 10-game hitting streak, and the Angels won seven of those 10 games. He went 16 for 36 over this span, with a .444 batting average. The Angels went on to win two of three after the streak ended. Entering May, the Angels were 14-8.
You can say an angel came down and helped Trout, or you could call Trout an angel himself. Either one works. All we know is that Trout was not hitting through seven games, and the Angels were below .500. Then, somehow, they were sitting atop the AL West.
While Trout had a huge part in this turnaround, he needed some help. That help came from the rubber–the guys that they will rely on all season: Noah Syndergaard, Michael Lorenzen, Reid Detmers, and Patrick Sandoval. The Angels won all three games that Sandoval started in April. Together, they made 13 starts. The Angels went nine and four in those starts entering May. Not only were the starters great, but so was the bullpen. Ryan Tepera, Archie Bradley, Jimmy Hergert, Aaron Loup, and Raisel Iglesias all did their part.
An Unexpected Star
Since April 14th, the start of Trout’s streak; Shohei Ohtani, Anthony Rendon, and Jared Walsh went 42-for-165, a .254 batting average entering May–Ohtani being the only one with more than 15 hits. While some of these hits have included some big extra-base hits, most of the production has come from an unexpected star.
If somebody told you that for the majority of the start of the season Mike Trout was going to have an OPS over 1.0 and an average over .300, but that it wasn’t going to be the highest on the team, then you would likely guess that Shohei Ohtani would lead in these categories. You’d be wrong. Then you might’ve guessed Anthony Rendon, and then, perhaps, Jared Walsh. However, you’d still be wrong. It would’ve been more than a huge risk to bet on Taylor Ward, but boy would you have cashed in.
Taylor Ward has been absolute dynamite for the Halos–Sporting a .365 batting average, a 1.165 OPS, and a 243 wRC+. Singles, doubles, triples, homers. You name it, and Taylor Ward has delivered. His best moment came against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway, where he hit a 2-run go-ahead bomb over the green monster to give the Halos the lead in what would spark a comeback victory. His production can only be compared to Mike Trout’s, which is saying a lot. He is a really big reason why this Angels team is soaring, and if he continues like this, he can solidify himself as a future Angel in the outfield.
Angels in the Infield
Andrew Velazquez is an absolute wall. Diving to snag balls, flipping them behind his back, and covering ground to get outs. While Velazquez has struggled at the plate, his defense has helped Halo pitchers get outs that might not have ordinarily been outs. If the Halos can steer Velazquez into having more quality at-bats, and if Velazquez can continue the stellar defense, then the shortstop position for the Los Angeles Angels will be locked down for the rest of the year.
Angels in the Dugout
When have we seen the Halos having as much fun as they are right now in recent years? The Angels have started to do something that other big-league teams are doing: celebrating homers with props. There’s the blue jacket, the grocery cart, and now the cowboy hat. The cowboy hat brings an extra spark to the dugout–it brings looseness and reminds everyone to enjoy the game and have fun with it.
Not only does the cowboy hat come along with some fun, but so does winning. The Angels are well above .500. This team has a different aura around it. It almost feels as if they believe they’ve got a shot. This team wins in so many wacky ways: two-way stars, ex two-way players, breakout campaigns, call-ups, top pitching prospects throwing no-nos, and guys coming off of Tommy John surgery and shoving. It’s an all-around team effort that’s been displayed over the past month and a half They’ve got chemistry. They have a shot.
Stars Finding Their Groove
Since May 1, Shohei Ohtani, Jared Walsh, and Anthony Rendon have combined for 12 XBH – 8 of those being home runs. With Walsh being the hottest hitter of this bunch, the other two are starting to find their swings. Of course it’s still early, but the expectations for these three are high. Luckily for the Angels, “Ole Reliable,” Mike Trout, and breakout star Taylor Ward have been able to pick them up. However, the Angels will need their main guys to produce. Especially considering how good the Astros still are, and the rest of the AL West is still a threat.
Angels on the Rubber
The rhetoric that has surrounded the Los Angeles Angels for the past several years sounded like this: ¨The Angels have no pitching, and without pitching you can’t win.¨ In the offseason, Perry Minasian, the Angels GM, went out and scouted the free-agency market. He picked up lefty reliever Aaron Loup who has been solid for the Angels this season. Loup is sporting a 1.93 ERA in 14 innings, to go along with 15 K’s. Minasian also signed Ryan Tepera, who is sporting a 2.35 ERA in 15 innings and has only allowed 6 hits. Batters are batting .115 against Loup and .122 against Tepera. Minasian re-signed Raisel Iglesias, the Angels star closer, and then made a move that’s paid off so far: Noah Syndergaard.
Syndergaard has been able to go the distance in most of his starts this year for the Angels. Syndergaard’s ERA stands at 2.45 over 29 innings, and he is holding batters to a .227/.275/.318 slash line. Thor has looked very good since his return from TJ surgery. The question is: will he be able to withstand the workload throughout the rest of the year, coupled with the pressure and expectations that are put on him by the Angels organization? Syndergaard will be a big reason that the Angels make the playoffs – if they make the playoffs.
The two-way Japanese star has been stellar on the mound this year. So far, Ohtani has made 6 starts. He’s 3 and 2 on the mound with a 2.78 ERA, and top 10 in all of MLB in strikeouts. This year, he’s averaging a 12.8 K/9 and a 1.9 BB/9. He’s also sporting a .096 WHIP and a 76 ERA- (which accounts for park factors and league factors, and compares you to league average – league ERA- average = 100).
Ohtani has had two stand-out starts: against the Houston Astros in Minute Maid Park, in which he took a perfect game into the 6th; against the Red Sox at Fenway, in which he threw seven scoreless innings–allowing six hits and striking out 11. Both of those starts opened the world’s eyes to see that Ohtani, even as unbelievable as this may sound, still has room to improve. Those two outings were some of the best of Ohtani’s career and featured some of his best stuff yet.
Baseball fans, Reid this and get excited: Reid Detmers is the youngest player to throw a no-hitter since Anibal Sanchez in ‘06. He’s also the youngest Angel to throw a no-hitter in the club’s history. Detmers, the Angels’ #1 prospect, threw a no-no to the Tampa Bay Rays on a warm May night to give the Halos their 21st win. For Detmers, it was something he dreamed of doing as a kid. For Angel fans, it was a feeling that only existed in the very distant past, and the hope of such a feat was dead–-until that night.
Detmers has started six games, has a .839 WHIP, and has held batters to a .529 OPS. He’s 2 and 1 on the year and has given the Halos quality innings. Hopefully the no-hitter he threw to the Rays can boost his confidence to be able to eat up innings and go deeper into games.
Angels in the Outfield
The Angels are winning. Once upon a time, if you wanted to re-live that feeling, you had to go watch a movie about a kid seeing Angels in the Outfield. If there’s one thing these 2022 Halos have given their fans, it’s hope. Hope that Angel fans will not have to sit on their couches, wondering what it’d be like to have Angels in the Outfield, but that fans will finally be able to believe in their beloved team and experience what it’s like to have the Angels light that baby up.
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Shohei Ohtani, Mike Trout, Anthony Rendon, Noah Syndergaard, Michael Lorenzen, Reid Detmers, Patrick Sandoval, Ryan Tepera, Archie Bradley, Jimmy Hergert, Aaron Loup, Raisel Iglesias, Andrew Velazquez, Aaron Loup, Ryan Tepera