Los Angeles Angels
On paper, the Angels are a pretty good team, even a contender. In reality, as the season nears its close the Halos sit at .500 and count themselves lucky.
Injuries torpedoed the Angels in 2018, none more impactful than the UCL injury to Shohei Ohtani. Out for most of June, Ohtani came back to at least contribute as the Halos' DH in the second half, but on the mound he was limited to ten starts and his pitching career is now in jeopardy. Trying to avoid a Tommy John procedure, Ohtani tried alternative therapies and thought he could come back this year, but in his comeback attempt on September 2nd lasted just 21/3 innings before reality finally set in. If he's to continue as a pitcher, he will need TJ surgery, which would put him out of action—as a pitcher, at least—until sometime in 2020. Whether he could continue as a batter while rehabbing the elbow next season is an open question. Ohtani seems reluctant to commit to the surgery, so if he continues as a two-way player is still an open question.
Right now, the Angels' DL contingent numbers an even dozen, including starting 2B/3B Zack Cozart; closer Kenyon Middleton; 1B/DH Albert Pujols; starting pitchers Tyler Skaggs, Gerrett Richards, and Nick Tropeano; and outfielder Chris Young. Earlier in the year, the team lost first-stringers OF Kole Calhoun and SS Andrelton Simmons as well as Ohtani. What might have been if the Angels had been healthy for the bulk of the season in this AL West division.
As it is, the Mariners will contend with a club they've gone 7-8 against thus far this year, one that includes, of course, perennial MVP candidate Mike Trout. The Fishman typically has his way with Seattle pitching, and this year has battered the M's to the tune of .446/.557/.911, including six home runs. Simmons, also, has used Mariner pitching as his personal piñata this year, hitting .346/..352/.462 in 52 at-bats.
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.
Shoehi Ohtani: The Japanese two-way star is limited to one way, at least until 2020. Damage to his UCL is severe enough to warrant a Tommy John procedure that would keep him off the mound for a year and a half. Meanwhile, he can still rake with the bat. In just 268 at-bats, Ohtani has clubbed 19 homers and posted an outstanding .295/.376/.593 line.
Kole Calhoun: A Gold Glover in 2015, Calhoun has been an unsung hero for the Angels in recent years. This season, though, his value has been iffy—in the first half, he struggled to a horrid .187/.237/.319 batting line, and even with an improved performance after the All-Star break has had the worst season of his 6+ year Major League career.
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; given his track record, 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|