LOS ANGELES ANGELS OF ANAHEIM – 2015 BY THE NUMBERS:
Record: 85-77, Third place in the American League West, three games behind the Texas Rangers
* Finished one game behind the Houston Astros for the second Wild Card spot
Team Leaders – Hitting
Mike Trout – .299 average, 41 home runs, 90 RBIs, 104 runs scored
Albert Pujols – .244 average, 40 home runs, 95 RBIs
Kole Calhoun – .256 average, 26 home runs, 83 RBIs
Team Leaders – Pitching
Garrett Richards: 15-12, 3.65 ERA, 176 strikeouts
Hector Santiago: 9-9, 3.59 ERA
Huston Street: 40-45 saves
Considering that this red-clad major league bunch from Orange County had only one starting pitcher with a winning record, who is considered a mere number three guy,
That they suffered too many key injuries to that staff, including a closer who had forty saves before suffering a groin injury severe enough to knock him out for the rest of the year, and…
That they went the whole season without someone who was sorely needed ever since they dumped Josh Hamilton amid all that animosity at the beginning of the year: a slugging left fielder who could take the pressure off of Mike Trout and Albert Pujols,
What these Angels did in 2015 was rather remarkable, staying in postseason contention until the final day – game number 162 – when they were knocked out Mike Tyson-style by a Texas Rangers team that proved once and for all that at least for this year, they were simply better.
Owner Arte Moreno evidently recognized the Halos’ efforts, opting to keep manager Mike Scioscia around for a 17th year in addition to hiring a new general manager, Billy Eppler, who made his bones with the New York Yankees in spending over a decade with them in various front office capacities, including director of professional scouting and assistant GM.
It’s safe to say that the Halos did the best they could, but though they came up short, it’s definitely a case of no-one-should-hang-their-heads, which is what Scioscia said after that last game in Arlington, TX.
I won’t go on about how great Trout was once again, or except for the batting average and nagging injuries that can be chalked up to plain old age, Pujols had a very good season with his leading the team with 95 ribbies to go along with his forty homers, the seventh time he has done that in a career that will (as sure as I am sitting here typing this) see him in Cooperstown, NY making an acceptance speech for his induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame five years after he retires.
I’ll leave that for the other sites and blogs to cover.
Instead, I want to state what these Angels will need going forward, to make sure that they won’t be sitting at home watching the playoffs unfold at this time next year.
It’s essentially the same thing that I said they needed at the onset of the trade deadline at the end of July:
* A left fielder with enough hitting and slugging prowess to relieve the pressure from Trout and Pujols
I know that Kole Calhoun had his best season in “The Show” with his 26 home runs, but that does not mean that the Angels’ hitting issues are not settled as a guy hitting fifth in the order, who could bat at least .280 or .290 (Calhoun batted .256, not quite good enough in my view) with a homer total in the mid-20s would have meant even better numbers for Trout and Pujols in the form of batting averages of well over .300 for the center fielder and at least .280 for the first baseman/(increasingly common) designated hitter.
It behooves those Halos to find someone who can play left every day and provide that protection.
* Better middle relief, and perhaps another starting pitcher or two.
The season-ending injury to C.J. Wilson certainly crippled things, as well as the fact that Jered Weaver, who was once a dominating ace, can officially be considered past his best days as he has struggled for the past couple of years.
As for the middle relief, I’ll put this very simply:
It won’t do.
It has to be more effective, and the Angels need to focus on getting guys for 2016 who will execute better that the guys they had in 2015.
If they do those two things, their playing in the postseason next year, considering how close they came this year, will probably be a reality.
I don’t think I can make it any clearer than that.
Until next March at Tempe Diablo Stadium…
Mike Trout (#24) congratulating C.J. Cron (#24) during a game. Photo courtesy of halohangout.com