The AL West in 2015: The LA Angels of Anaheim


The AL West is a division of have’s and have not’s.  If we are to take an optimistic view of this, the Houston Astros have an exciting young roster that, in time, very well might challenge for playoff spots and even championships.  Another view would be to say that the Houston Astros have not got a hope of challenging for these things in the 2015 season.  In 2014, the Astros finished a whopping 28 games behind the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.  Only Texas, Colorado and Arizona were further (or, in Colorado’s case, as far) behind their divisional champions.

The AL West sent a team to the World Series in both 2010 and 2011, in both cases the Texas Rangers came away empty-handed.  Since then, the ALDS has been as far as AL West teams have ventured into the post-season, with the A’s twice losing 3-2 to Detroit and, last year, the Angels losing 3-0 to the eventual World Series loser Kansas City, themselves a founding member of the AL West.

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The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim have perhaps one of the most convoluted names in all of professional sports, having been the Los Angeles Angels, the California Angels and the Anaheim Angels (for their 2002 World Series win) until the 2005 change to a name that incorporates most of the pertinent details of their naming history.

The Angels have the dubious honor of possessing two of the worst contracts in baseball, at least according to Grantland’s Jonah Keri.  I’m sure nobody reading this needs reminded of the 10 year, $240m deal that Albert Pujols is on, nor the 5 year, $125m contract that Josh Hamilton has for himself. Pujols is signed through 2021 and Hamilton through 2017.

It was recently announced that Hamilton underwent surgery on the AC joint in his right shoulder and he did hit 43 homers in 2012, but then went on to miss 73 games last season.  The AC joint allows you to raise your arm above your head and helps with arm rotation. Those sound like things that might be important for an outfielder and a power hitter.  Some Angels fans are ready to give up on Josh – read this from Halo Hangout for more!

Pujols, on the other hand, only missed three games in 2014 and hit 28 homers along with 105 RBI’s.  He hit .272, had an OBP of .324 and slugged .466.  Other than OBP, these were all improvements on 2013 but were still below his 2012 season, his first season in Anaheim also being his best since moving west.  The key issue for the Angels going forward is whether or not they can expect these numbers from Pujols going forward.  History tells us that is unlikely.  As far as the 2015 season goes, however, it is not unreasonable to suggest that Pujols could still be a contributor.

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In terms of off-season moves, the Angels have been unspectacular.  Indeed, were it not for the blockbuster move made by the Astros in acquiring Hank Conger, the departure of Howie Kendrick might have been the most noteworthy move made by the Angels, picking up Andrew Heaney, the former Marlins number one prospect who was recently named the best leftie prospect in the game, in the move.

The Angels have some question marks over their rotation for the upcoming season.

Garrett Richards, who saw his 13-4, 2.61 ERA 2014 season ended with a torn patellar tendon, has been scheduled for a return sometime in April-May and his return to fitness (and form) will concern hitters across the majors.  His injury, although brutal, was the result of a freak accident whilst covering first base and should allow him to return to form on the mound.  The Angels will hope for a little more from C.J. Wilson, Jered Weaver and their pitching staff in general, which posted a team ERA of 3.58.  There are also questions over what Matt Shoemaker, second in AL Rookie of the Year voting, can produce going forward.  Read more on the Angels pitching from Alden Gonzalez at

Oh yeah, and they also have this dude called Mike Trout who seems to be pretty good at baseball.

Trout won’t even turn 24 until August and while his strikeouts went up to a career high 184 last season, his RBIs also hit career high figures.  His BA/OBP/SLG for last season was .287/.377/.561 and his WAR dropped to 7.9.  His winning the MVP award for his worst season did not go un-noticed.  As Ted Berg noted in the linked article, that he still won the MVP with his declining statistics shows how impressive Trout has been thus far in his career.  Another USA Today article contended that he was the best young player in baseball history.

The Angels may have question marks over their big money bats, but there is little doubt that they will be right in contention for the AL West pennant again come the business end of the season.