5 Reasons Why the Angels Will Repeat as AL West Champions
With a little less than 2 months to go in the 2015 season, the Angels are 1.5 games back behind the Houston Astros for the division lead. Some say that with all the drama and craziness the Angels have dealt with this season both on and off the field it’s a shock they are where they are. Here’s 5 reasons why the Angels will repeat as AL West Champions in 2015.
1. The Starting Rotation.
The pitching rotation for the Angels will be the biggest key when it comes to repeating as AL West Champions. The Angels’ whole pitching staff has a top 10 ERA of 3.61. Garrett Richards and Hector Santiago have solidified the top 2 spots in the rotation this season. Both pitchers came in as question marks to begin the season; Santiago was thought to possibly just be used as a long relief pitcher, and Richards was recovering from his knee surgery. Jered Weaver has struggled this season, and is about to come off of the DL, but this is at the same time that CJ Wilson was announced to be out for the season due to bone spurs. Matt Shoemaker has had an on and off year, but as of late has looked sharp returning to his stellar rookie form from last season. Then the most pleasant surprise of the year, Andrew Heaney who was acquired from the Dodgers in the offseason. Since joining the rotation Heaney has posted a 5-1 record, and has looked solid in every start. The Angels pitching rotation in the month of July looked dominant, and the rotation showed why it’ll be a big reason the Angels repeat as division champs.
2. The Youth and Inexperience of the Houston Astros.
The Houston Astros last made the playoffs in 2005. That year they lost to the Chicago White Sox in the World Series. Not one Astro from that year is still on the team. After that disappointing loss in the World Series the Astros never gained back that same success, and had suffered 6 consecutive losing seasons heading into 2015. Surprisingly this season the Astros are proving nearly everyone wrong by showing they are ready to contend for and in the playoffs. The Angels advantage over the Astros is late season experience. The Astros have around 10 men on their 40 man roster that have played in the playoffs before due to them being a young team. Almost the whole Angels’ roster has made it to the playoffs. When it comes down to late season games it takes a lot of experience to win those tough ball games. The Angels won the West last year, and now know what it takes to reach that accomplishment again.
3. The Angels Offense Has Struggled Yet is Only 1.5 Games Back.
At times this season the Angels’ offense has been nonexistent, and at other times the Angels’ offense has been on fire. Looking from a numbers stand point the Angels offense for the talent they have has been a bit disappointing. The Angels are batting a low .247 which is 4th worst in the AL. The only bright side about that average is that the Astros are batting 3 points lower than the Angels at .244. Still though the Angels’ offense appears at times that they really don’t know how to hit. Let’s look at the Angels’ recent series against the Indians. In the final 2 games of that series the Angels struggled to hit the ball, and only recorded 7 hits combined in 21 innings. That’s not going to win you many ball games. Although let’s look at the Angels’ series against the Rangers in early July. That series the Angels totaled in 3 games 33 runs, and an impressive 47 hits. Unfortunately the Angels’ offense hasn’t been able to keep that kind of production up. What is fortunate though is that with the struggles of the Angels offense they still are only 1.5 games back of the Astros. The West can easily be won by the Angels with some more offensive success. If the bats can heat up at the right time the Angels could run away with it, and that is a great possibility with a lineup that consists of Mike Trout and Albert Pujols.
4. Mike Trout.
It’s no mystery that the Angels have the best player in baseball in Mike Trout. Now one player can’t single handily win a team a division, but Trout can definitely help the Angels repeat as AL West champs. A player of Trout’s caliber can elevate other players on the team, and make them play to or above their potential. If you look from an individual WAR (wins above replacement) standpoint Trout is a monstrous part of the Angels success. Trout’s WAR is an incredible 35.5 since his debut in 2011(keep in mind Trout only played 40 games in 2011, and this season still has 2 months remaining, not to mention he’s only 24 years old). So far this season Trout’s WAR is at 6.9. So without Trout the Angels would have about 7 more losses. Trout is hitting .306 this season along with 33 homers, and 69 RBIs. Right now Trout looks like the front-runner to win the AL MVP. Trout is a player that shines in the moments where the Angels need him most. Trout is talented enough to carry this team into the playoffs. Although all the Angel players will have to step up to win this division; Trout gives a team a big edge when it comes to a close race.
5. The Veteran Leadership and Overcoming Adversity.
You can’t talk about the Angels’ 2015 season without mentioning their ability to overcome adversity. To begin the season the Angels had to deal with all of the drama from Josh Hamilton, and his relapse. The media was all over the Angels, and many people wondered how the whole situation would affect the team. The Angels season started out a bit rocky, but they were able to keep their composure, and once Hamilton was traded to the Rangers that saga began to fade. Towards the all-star break the Angels had new drama appear as word got out that Manager Mike Scioscia and former General Manager Jerry Dipoto were having issues with each other over analytics. Just a few days later Dipoto resigned. A difficult move for any team to deal with, but the Angels pushed through, and despite having to adjust to new/former GM Bill Stoneman the team has been able to stay and compete for the division title. The Angels have been able to deal with this adversity due to their veteran leadership from Pujols, Weaver, Erick Aybar, and even guys who are young but have had success in the MLB like Trout and Richards. At the trade deadline the Angels also picked up 3 veteran outfielders in David DeJesus, Shane Victorino, and David Murphy. Adversity and leadership can build team chemistry, which is key to winning in any sport, especially baseball. With all the veteran leadership on the Angels roster it should be the Angels’ division to lose.