Will the Angels Ever be Better than the Dodgers Again?

Updated: March 14, 2017

There was a time when the Angels owned the Dodgers every year; they beat them head-to-head, they won more games, they went to the playoffs more often, and they were generally more succesful.  The Angels were a model franchise, while the Dodgers dealt with serious ownership drama and often underwhelming on-field results. That has taken a complete turn, though, as the Angels have struggled on the field and endured their fair share of drama, while the Dodgers are considered one of the best franchises in baseball and have the farm system to stay great for years. All things considered, will the Angels ever be better than the Dodgers?

We’ll go ahead and concede this season; stranger things have happened, of course, but you’d be hard pressed to find a spot where the Angels are better than the Dodgers, who are one of the strongest, deepest, most complete teams you’ll find in baseball this season. No one would be surprised if the Dodgers won it all, while most people would be surprised if the Angels made the playoffs at all. Is there a path to the Angels someday being better than the Dodgers, though? It’s hard to see it now, but let’s try to see how it could happen. The Angels are currently shedding some of the massive contracts that have bogged them down for years, and after Josh Hamilton‘s contract comes off the books, the Angels will only be paying Albert Pujols and Mike Trout big dollars.

With lots of cap space in a favorable market, the Angels could be major players in 2018, when superstars like Bryce Harper, Manny Machado, Josh Donaldson, and yes, maybe even Clayton Kershaw hit the open market. Speaking of Kershaw, the Dodgers played admirably in his absence last season, but if he misses an extended period of time, or worse, if the Dodgers lose him, that severely hurts the franchise. The Dodgers have some great young pitching prospects, but you can’t just replace the best pitcher in the world, and while the Dodgers have some great young players, Kershaw, Rich Hill, Adrian Gonzalez, and Justin Turner are not getting any younger.

Angels’ GM Billy Eppler has done an admirable job of building up depth around Mike Trout while staying flexible, and the fact that the Angels will have another high draft pick this season to continue adding assets is another step in the right direction. Couple that with the fact that the Halos can now sign any free agent without losing a draft pick and the Angels avenue to contending again seems a lot clearer. If some of their young players like Tyler Skaggs, Alex Meyer, Andrew Heaney, Taylor Ward, and Matt Thaiss reach their potential and the Angels are able to reel in a few marquee free agents still in their prime in 2018, you can potentially see a team ready to challenge for SoCal baseball supremacy again.

It won’t be easy; the Dodgers are a good, young, deep team, with deep pockets and a smart front office that operates the team like a small market franchise while still being able to throw its weight (and money) around like the big market, big money franchise it is. They’ve got money, they’ve got a stacked farm system, and they’ve got legitimate young stars in their prime all over the diamond already contributing at a high level. The Halos have dug themselves a hole, and it’ll take a lot of work and some time to work their way out. They’re off to a good start, though, and don’t forget that they still have the best player in the world in Trout. It isn’t impossible to see a team ready to turn the Dodgers black and blue in the near future.

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