The Los Angeles Angels started the season with low expectations. Over the past two years, the offensive production of Josh Hamilton and Albert Pujols had steadily declined. It was clearly apparent to Angels’ fans and baseball experts that the Angels’ stars were aging. While their pitching staff was expected to remain decent, it was not expected to be enough to carry them. However, the Angels have exceeded expectations. They currently sit atop of the AL West at 48-40, half a game ahead of the Houston Astros.
The contracts of Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton were supposed to be the dead weight on the Angels’ roster that prevented them from having a chance to compete. However, they traded Josh Hamilton back to the Texas Rangers and Albert Pujols began to hit like he did when he still played for St. Louis. Combined with Mike Trout (considered the best player in baseball) and David Freese, the Angels’ lineup has provided solid offense for them throughout the first half.
Graphic via overthemonster
Despite an injury to their ace, Jared Weaver, the Angels’ pitching staff has carried their team through the first half of the season. The starting rotation led by CJ Wilson and Garrett Richards has been especially strong and is responsible for the Angels’ success this season.
The Angels’ primary strength this season has been their pitching. It currently boasts a 3.64 ERA. The combination of veteran pitchers, Garrett Richards and CJ Wilson, with young arms such as Matt Shoemaker and Hector Santiago has made the Angels’ starting rotation one of the better ones in the league. The return of their ace, Jared Weaver, should provide them with an extra boost as well.
The Angels’ primary weakness is their lack of another potent bat in the middle of their lineup. While Albert Pujols’ resurgence has made their lineup much stronger, they still need a hitter to provide them with some extra depth in the batting order. Their offense currently ranks 16th in runs scored and it will be sure to cause them some problems as it gets later in the season.
The Angels also have a problem with fielding. They have committed 51 errors this season, which places them 16th in the league. Their defensive miscues have cost them several games this year and could prove costly as they contend for a playoff stop.
The Second Half
A weak AL West should make the end of the season very interesting for the Angels. They are the strongest team in their division at the moment, but not by much. A returning Jared Weaver will bolster their pitching staff and you can expect the Angels’ front office to make every effort to get a bat to put in the lineup behind Trout and Pujols.
The Angels’ season could turn on their first few series after the All Star Break. They have series against their division rivals, the Rangers and the Astros. If they can win these series, they will buy themselves some breathing room at the top of the division and it could seal their playoff spot. However, if they lose these series, you can expect a free for all at the top of the division.
Graphic via halohangout