Are the Angels Really the Favorites?


Despite boasting the league’s best overall record at 88-55, the Los Angeles Angels should not be the overwhelming favorites to win, or even make it to the World Series. Call me crazy, tweet me hurtful things questioning my sanity or whatever you all deem necessary, but I have a hunch that they are going to disappoint once October rolls around.

The method behind my madness is the simple fact that the Angels do not have the starting rotation capable of a deep playoff run (at least compared to some other teams in the American League). The Tigers are capable of trotting out the likes of Max Scherzer, David Price and either Justin Verlander or Anibal Sanchez if healthy. The A’s have the formidable trio of Jon Lester, Jeff Samardzija and Sonny Gray. Even the Seattle Mariners have King Felix. The Angels would counter with the likes of Jered Weaver, C.J. Wilson and Hector Santiago who are all great pitchers in their own right, but lack the “stuff” to potentially take over a playoff game.

The 2014 Angels remind me of a basketball/football team that dominates in the regular season due to their elite offense, gets by with their average defense (or in this case, pitching staff) before eventually stumbling in the postseason because the game slows down and gets more defensive. Elite pitching will always stifle elite hitting. It is a fact that we have been exposed to time and time again.

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Another reason for the potential demise of the Angels is that they may have already hit their peak. During the recent four game series in which they swept the division rival Oakland A’s, the Angels were hitting on all cylinders, and set themselves up to runaway with the American League West division.

As much as this is good news for the Angels players and their fans (they are now a remarkable eight games ahead of Oakland), the pessimist in me would be a tad bit concerned. So much of postseason play in today’s sports world (outside of the NBA) often comes down to a team getting hot at the precise time.  Last year’s Red Sox may not have been the best team in baseball talent wise (I believe the Tigers and Cardinals were both more talented) but they got hot and clawed their way to an eventual championship.

Of course, the counter to this entire argument is that there is a guy named Mike Trout on the Angels’ roster. If there is any player that can take over a postseason series, wouldn’t it be him with vast assortment of talents?

Trout is capable of striking fear into any opposing team, but I almost believe the Angels would rather have Garrett Richards healthy for a do-or-die playoff game than Trout. Pitching is that valuable in the postseason!

The presence of Richards on this roster would change everything for me because then their rotation would lineup perfectly. He would have been the prototypical hurler to help carry a team to the promised land with his electric stuff. Richards, Weaver and Wilson just sounds a lot more formidable than Weaver, Wilson and Santiago right?

The postseason is such a crapshoot these days, who really knows how things are going to play out? All I know is that the Angels do not boast a dominant rotation, may have peaked too early and will most likely be left disappointed because of it.

I hope I am wrong, it would be fitting for Mr. Trout (aka the new face of baseball) to win the World Series during Derek Jeter‘s final season. A passing of the torch would occur before our eyes.

Either way, can we please just get to some October baseball?