Los Angeles Angels' best-case and worst-case scenarios for 2024 season

Mar 3, 2024; Tempe, Arizona, USA; Los Angeles Angels third baseman Anthony Rendon (6) bats against
Mar 3, 2024; Tempe, Arizona, USA; Los Angeles Angels third baseman Anthony Rendon (6) bats against / Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Angels have under-performed on expectations so consistently over so many seasons that it seems silly to give them more than perfunctory consideration as a postseason threat in 2024.

This is, after all, a team that has managed to finish out of the money despite having the game’s two best players, as well as its highest paid. Now, the best of those players having fled for new digs downtown, the Angels’ quest seems even more hopeless than usual, which is saying something.

Then you look at a roster featuring young talent, you read where Anthony Rendon may finally be healthy, and the thought returns…maybe this year. Maybe?

Best-Case Scenario for 2024 LA Angels

With the two-pronged loss of pitcher-slugger Shohei Ohtani, both Rendon’s presence and his performance are more vital than ever. The Angels are paying him $38.5 million again this season; at some point he has to earn some of it, doesn’t he?

Since signing with the Angels, Rendon has stumbled through four injury-marred seasons, so it’s both interesting and unusual not to see his name anywhere on the team’s injury report as the regular season opens. It’s worth recalling that, in 2019, a healthy Rendon carried the Washington Nationals to a World Series win on the strength of a .319 average, a league-leading 126 RBI,  34 homers and a 1.01 OPS.

That’s what Rendon is capable of; now, he just needs to do it.

Mike Trout’s name is also absent from the injury list, a second refreshing change from 2023, when he was limited to half a season on the field. What if – just spitballing here – both Rendon and Trout are healthy in 2024?

The rest of the Angels’ cast has youthful potential: Nolan Schanuel at first, Logan O’Hoppe behind the plate, and Mickey Moniak, Jo Adell and/or Taylor Ward in the outfield all showed flashes of promise in 2023. If they merely make expected improvements, wrapping their bats around Trout and Rendon would create a surprisingly impactful offense.

But if the Angels are going to threaten the Astros and Rangers, they probably have to do it on the mound. Los Angeles had baseball’s sixth worst staff in 2023, allowing 5.12 runs per game. The potentially bad news is that, aside from Ohtani, the team’s rotation returns intact.

So the heat will be on Reid Detmers, Griffin Canning, Tyler Anderson and Patrick Sandoval to demonstrate genuine major league skill. Last year they made 105 starts, but with a cumulative 4.58 ERA. Detmers, Sandoval and Canning are all still young enough to improve, and they’ll have to if the Angels are to have a chance. 

Worst-Case Scenario for 2024 LA Angels

The flaws in the Angels-as-contenders argument are readily apparent mostly because Angels fans have lived through them for close to a decade now. Rendon stay healthy all season? That’s a good one. Trout, too? He’s averaged half a season on the injured list over the past three seasons, so not likely there, either.

And while it’s probable that somebody among the group of O’Hoppe, Schanuel, Moniak, Ward and Adell achieves the stardom that has been predicted, the odds of several of them doing it simultaneously defy history.

Just considering Adell alone, stardom’s been predicted for him annually since 2020. The result: a career .214 average and multiple shuttles to Triple-A.

Now about that pitching…Anderson, Detmers and Canning have all looked respectable this spring. But the Angels have already lost their best pitcher in Ohtani. If those other guys revert to established form during the summer, there’s no backup plan.

Most realistic scenario for 2024 LA Angels

At some point, you have to take off the rose colored glasses and see the Angels for what they are. They haven’t had a winning season since 2015, as well as the entire period when Ohtani was around to help carry Trout and Rendon.

It is intriguing to ponder what the team might be able to do with healthy stars. But since that never happens in the real baseball world, the more likely forecast is for fits, starts and frustration.

If Anderson, Detmers, Canning and Sandoval don’t hold up the pitching end of the bargain, if Trout and Rendon spend their usual allotment of time in the hospital, and if a couple of the Angels youngsters don’t grow into All-Stars, the Oakland A’s might be the only thing standing between the Angels and the AL West cellar.  

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