Los Angeles Angels
Early in the season, Angel fans had realistic hopes for contention. They had the services of the young Japanese phenom Shohei Ohtani and finally a decent supporting cast surrounding perennial MVP candidate Mike Trout. Things were looking up.
But that was then. Halfway through the year now, the Halos are lame, both literally and figuratively. At this writing, there are thirteen(!!) Angels on the disabled list, with seven of them out for the rest of the season. Ohtani is no longer on the DL, but is only available as a designated hitter. How his UCL injury will impact his future as a pitcher is unclear; he and the Angels are reluctant to make any decision about Tommy John surgery yet, but bad UCL sprains rarely heal on their own to the point where pitching is realistically possible.
Meanwhile, shortstop Andrelton Simmons is back from his stint on the DL, and of course there is still Trout. Along with Ohtani, the two of them are the only active Angels batting over .260, and each has done the Mariners some damage this year. But Trout in particular tends to crush the M's when given the opportunity:
|Mike Trout vs. Seattle Mariners
|Mike Trout vs. individual Mariner pitchers (career)
On the pitching side, the Orange County squad has a surprising success story with six-year veteran Tyler Skaggs—prior to this year, Skaggs had a career record of 13-21 with a 4.59 ERA; in 16 starts this season, Skaggs has pitched like an ace, going 6-5, 2.64 while striking out 100 batters. He's one of the wounded Angels, though, still on the DL at this writing. Andrew Heany and Garret Richards have shown flashes of brilliance—Heany one-hit the Royals in June, Richards allowed zero earned runs over seven IP to both the Rangers and Astros earlier in the year—while the rest of the Angel mound corps is competent but not particularly notable, putting up decent numbers in relative anonymity.
It is a quirk of this year's less-than-ideal schedule that the M's played every one of their home matchups with the Halos before setting foot once in Anaheim. With three series at each park, you'd expect things to alternate at least somewhat, but for whatever reason all nine games were played up north before all ten down south.
Players to Watch
Mike Trout: 2012 Rookie of the Year. Six-time All-Star. Five Silver Slugger awards. Two-time MVP and three-time runner-up. His career slash line is out of a video game: .306/.412/.571. The guy is pretty good with the stick. He doesn't have a Gold Glove (yet), but he's no slouch in center field, either; he currently leads the AL in Defensive WAR, for whatever that's worth.
Albert Pujols: The future Hall of Famer collected his 3,000th career hit during the Angels' first visit to Seattle this year. While not the force he used to be, Pujols remains a threat in the batter's box and is capable of launching upper-deck bombs given the chance.
Ian Kinsler: Once a star with Texas and Detroit, Kinsler has been a shadow of his former self the last couple of years. He went from being traded straight up to the Tigers for Prince Fielder (and cash) to being dealt to the Angels for a couple of low-level prospects after a .236 season in 2017. His numbers are even worse this year, and at 36 he doesn't figure to rebound much.
Mike Scioscia: The longest-tenured manager in the big leagues, Scoscia has helmed the Angels since 2000, making the playoffs seven times. The two-time AL Manager of the Year is in the final year of his contract, and it remains to be seen if this is the end of the Scoscia era in Orange County or not; with the Halos off to a hot start, his job prospects seem pretty solid whether or not he's offered an extension from the Angels.
Luis Valbuena: Valbuena played 18 games with the M's in 2008 before finding himself in the middle of one of the most complicated trades the Mariners have ever made. Valbuena was dealt to the Cleveland Indians in a three-team deal that involved 12 players shuffling between the M's, the Indians, and the New York Mets. Since then, he's made a career for himself as a competent journeyman infielder with enough power and defensive versatility to keep him employed as a big-leaguer.
|Los Angeles Angels||(2016 - present)|
|Division Titles:||1979, 1982, 1986, 2004, 2005, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2014|
Mike Trout hit nine homers in April, matching an Angels club record held by Albert Pujols (2014) and Brian Downing (1987).
Garrett Richards: The average velocity on Richards’ fastball since the start of the 2014 season is 95.8mph, tops among all Major Leaguers during that time span.
Ian Kinsler: On April 12th Kinsler hit his 47th career leadoff home run, fourth-most all-time and most among active players. Rickey Henderson (81), Alfonso Soriano (54), and Craig Biggio (53) are the top three.
Martin Maldonado: When Maldonado won Gold Glove honors last year, he became just the third Angels catcher to do so. Bob Boone (1982, 1986-88) and Bengie Molina (2002-03) are the others.
Luis Valbuena has hit 108 home runs in an eleven-year career that began with Seattle in the Mariners’ ill-fated 2008 season, but didn’t hit a single dinger with the M’s. He batted just 54 times with Seattle, all in ’08, batting .245.