In our second edition of AL West team previews, we move down south to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, whose 2016 was marred early on by injuries and never recovered.
What Went Right?
The bright spot for the Angels’ 2016 season actually came after the World Series had long since concluded, when the Baseball Writers’ Association of America came to its senses and voted Mike Trout as the 2016 AL MVP.
Sure, Trout didn’t lead the Angels to success last year, but his on-base percentage skyrocketed thanks to an MLB-best 116 walks. His .315/.441/.550 slash line over 159 games, all while playing great defense in center field, helped to produce one of the best individual seasons in recent years - according to Baseball Reference, his 10.6 WAR was the best by any player since he put up 10.8 WAR in his rookie year.
So keep hating him, M’s fans; just be aware that you’re witnessing greatness, and we should appreciate it while we can
Mike Trout is Mickey Mantle. pic.twitter.com/R2ksZf6g03— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) November 18, 2016
(Even though he still sucks.)
But there weren’t a whole lot of bright spots outside of Trout:
- C.J. Cron, in his third season in the bigs, took a noteworthy step forward at the plate, with his wRC+ going from 105 to 115 and his defense taking a step up as well - though he did break his hand and miss a good chunk of time during the season.
- Jefry Marte, who played in the outfield and both corner infield spots for L.A. in 2016, produced a nice little 1.5 fWAR in under 300 plate appearances. Though certainly not a huge amount, it’s particularly interesting given that he was acquired in January 2016 for a high-A-ball infielder hitting below .250. Looks like the Angels may have turned nothing into something, a major reversal from the typical nothing-into-something pattern they’ve demonstrated of late.
- Finally, they developed their own Edwin Diaz in the form of Cam Bedrosian. The former first-round pick went from replacement-level to elite practically overnight, with a sparkling 1.12 ERA (though a 2.13 FIP) and 51 K in just 40.1 innings. Jeff Sullivan did a far more in-depth job of profiling the young righty here, but suffice it to say he could be a thorn in the Mariners’ sides for years to come.
What Went Wrong?
Well, where do we even start? Probably in the X-ray room, because it was a tough year for Angels pitchers:
Ace Garrett Richards? Just six starts in 2016 before tearing his right UCL, though he’s been attempting to avoid Tommy John surgery thus far using rehab and stem cell injections.
Young buck Tyler Skaggs? Made it back after over a year and a half away (again, those dreaded words, Tommy John surgery), but was below league average in 10 starts.
Old man Jered Weaver? Developed a bit of a gopher-ball problem, allowing a league-worst 37 dingers en route to a 5.06 ERA in 31 starts. His fastball has officially descended into Jamie Moyer territory.
Things got so bad for the Angels’ rotation that they gave nine starts to Husky legend Tim Lincecum, who was truly atrocious, allowing 11 home runs and 39 earned runs in 38.1 innings. Woof.
Of course, that wasn’t all that went wrong for the Angels...
- After a mini-renaissance for Albert Pujols in years 3 and 4 of his contract, the future Hall of Famer’s fifth year in L.A. was quite a dud. Despite remaining healthy and playing in 152 games, Pujols’ defense deteriorated and his power took a dip, resulting in just 0.9 fWAR for the season.
- Left field became even more of a black hole than it already was, with the Daniel Nava/Craig Gentry platoon blowing up in the Angels’ faces. The Halos got a measly .584 OPS from LF in 2016, easily the worst in all of MLB.
- And, finally, they wasted a year of Mike Trout’s prime, where he was signed for a bargain price of $16 million, as well as Andrelton Simmons’ prime, at just $6 million. It’s hard to get those years back (Mariners fans sadly nod their heads, thinking of the King’s heyday).
Not a great year for the Angels, but there’s certainly room for optimism in 2017, should the rotation stay healthy and Pujols bounce back.