When you look at the Angels roster, it is evident that this team is built to win now. The average age of 30.6 is a prime number for a team that has the experienceandyouth that is required to win in this league. The loss of outfield Josh Hamilton earlier in the week could prove very costly for the Halos. The American League West is becoming more and more competitive with the recent emergence of the Athletics and the Mariners.
The Angels have vastly underachieved in recent years following eventful off seasons which consisted of huge free agent signings. The arrival of Hamilton and Albert Pujols was expected to propel a team on the verge of making noise in the playoffs to bigger and better things. However, injury and simply mediocre performance have made that goal a pipe dream.
Within the first week of the season however, no one was hitting better than Hamilton who posted a .444 batting average with 2 homers and a 1.286 OPS. Hamilton, who is due $17 million this year (and $25 million in 2015), tore a ligament in his thumb on his left hand trying to dive headfirst to first base on Tuesday night. The latest timeframe for Hamilton’s return is 6-8 weeks.
This injury leaves the Angels in a precarious spot. With the other strong teams in the division, the Angels cannot afford to lose too much ground within the next two months. Everything will come down to how the rest of the team responds. With the exception of Mike Trout, most of the roster is veteran players who have been through this many times before. Pujols had a good week hitting two homers and helping the Angels to a couple wins against the Astros and Mariners.
The rest of the team has been mediocre to say the least. As a team they are hitting .234 and five of their regulars are hitting under the Mendoza line. Newcomer third baseman David Freese is hitting .179 as is shortstop Erick Aybar. The Halos are hitting .184 as a team with runners in scoring position and a team on-base percentage of .294 which is good for 13th in the league.
Needless to say, the Angels were far from being the Bronx Bombers in the first 9 games of the season and the loss of Hamilton does not help. If the Angels can’t pick up the pace offensively within the next 6-8 weeks, they could find themselves ten games back in the standings and make their journey to October all the more difficult.
The pitching is not exempt from the scrutiny however. So far the Angels starting rotation has been disappointing. The team ERA of 4.44 is good for ninth in the league and the top in the rotation, C.J. Wilson and Jered Weaver, have been unimpressive also. The lone exceptions are Garret Richards who is 2-0 with a 0.75 ERA and Tyler Skaggs who in one start pitched 8 shutout innings (Skaggs got the start Friday night in Seattle against Felix Hernandez). The bullpen has performed poorly so far as well. In fact, it’s surprising the Angels are 4-5 and not 1-8.
Again the reason they aren’t in that position is Hamilton and his white-hot start to the season. Hamilton is known for those kinds of streaks, but he’s also known for some of the worse stretches imaginable. The Angels are strapped financially because of the massive deals to several of their players (Trout was just added to the list in the last couple weeks, but of course no one is questioning the logic behind that extension) and now they will be going two months without the services of one of their highest paid players.
Suffice it to say, if the Angels come out of the next several weeks in a decent position in the standings, then they might have a chance at October drama. If not, it could be another disappointing offseason in Anaheim and maybe, just maybe, the final season for manager Mike Scioscia.
Cheer on LA during Hamilton’s injury by grabbing Los Angeles Angels tickets from Ticket Exchange.