With MLB's regular season ending this weekend, Bally Sports is reviewing the performance of each club with a look at what happened in 2021 and what could happen next season. Our next Exit Interview is with the Los Angeles Angels.
What went right
• The greatest Sho’ on Earth performed one of the greatest feats ever in MLB, putting together a likely American League MVP season as an unprecedented slugger/pitcher combination.
• Jared Walsh made the All-Star team (and made a big play in left field to help the AL win).
• David Fletcher got a hit in 26 straight games, the most in MLB this season.
• Max Stassi was top-five among catchers in defensive runs saved.
What went wrong
• Mike Trout tore his calf in May and never came back, though he tried. The Angels had other significant injuries as well, notably Anthony Rendon and Justin Upton. The injuries weren’t the only reason the offense underperformed, but the Angels will do no better than middle of the pack in runs scored.
• Right-hander Dylan Bundy could not follow up his marvelous short-season performance of 2020, ending up with a 6-plus ERA and on the injured list because of a sore shoulder.
• The Angels started 24-30 through May, establishing a mediocre baseline for the season, in part because the bullpen failed frequently in the first half. Perhaps the Angels hang around in the playoff hunt longer if the relief pitching (aside from closer Raisel Iglesias) gets its act together sooner.
• Not that the starting pitching was better in the first half, posting a 5.06 ERA. Starters were a little unlucky and did perform better in the second half (4.34 ERA). Still, they were weak collectively as a group.
• After a strong first half at the plate (which had followed a strong short season in 2020), Stassi struggled to hit among nagging injuries in the second half.
• Shortstop José Iglesias, at one time one of the top defensive players in the league, had his poorest season and was released.
• Legendary slugger Albert Pujols hit .198/.250/.372 with five homers in 24 games and was released. He got picked up by the Dodgers and hit .254/.300/.465 with 12 homers in 83 games.
Through 154 games, Ohtani was batting .258/.370/.590 with 45 home runs, 26 stolen bases, 100 runs scored, 98 RBIs (from the top of the order), a .393 wOBA, and a .332 ISO. Also, he compiled a 3.18 ERA, 156 strikeouts and a 9-2 record in 130 1/3 innings as a pitcher.
Going by performance, right-hander Austin Warren and outfielder Brandon Marsh had the most fWAR, and they showed flashes of being able to help a winning team. Reid Detmers didn’t have the best results, and Jo Adell didn’t perform as well as perhaps he will going forward. Still, they were hopeful signs for the future.
Reasons for optimism
• Patrick Sandoval posted a 3.62 ERA with 94 strikeouts in 14 starts before sustaining a stress fracture in his back.
• Chris Rodríguez struck out 29 in 29 2/3 innings and made one quality start in two attempts before being shut down with a shoulder injury.
• Adell, who had a disappointing MLB debut in 2020, returned to the majors and showed a lot of positive signs, batting .246/.295/.408 as a 22-year-old.
• Trout has the entire offseason to heal his leg.
What needs work
• The Angels should go all in on one of the free-agent shortstops available on the market this winter. Pick one and cross your fingers. Carlos Correa might be the best, but Corey Seager would be great as well.
• The Angels cannot go into 2022 without adding one of the best free-agent pitchers on the market plus another decent arm to go with Ohtani, Iglesias, Detmers, Sandoval, José Suárez, Rodríguez and Janson Junk.
• Walsh slugged about .400 in the second half.
• Rendon will have to bounce back from injuries, stay in the lineup and slug .500 again.