The Los Angeles Angels finished the 2016 season with a disappointing 74-88 record, good enough for fourth-worst in the American League. Compounding the frustration of another lost season in LA is the fact that the Angels feature the best player in baseball, and quintessential MVP candidate, Mike Trout, in their lineup. The Angels face an uphill climb for relevance in the coming years, but let’s see how they got to their low point in 2016.
Los Angeles Angels 2016 Season Review
To be fair, expectations weren’t as high in Los Angeles entering the 2016 season as they have been in previous season. Yes, the Angels have Trout, but even the most optimistic analysts realize there is only so much one player can do.
In fact, after the first two months of the season, the Angels had a 24-28 record, and while that’s not particularly great, they were hanging around the Wild Card race. However, once the calendar flipped to June, an 8-19 record sunk the team and kissed any playoff chances goodbye. Los Angeles did have winning records in July and September, but, by only being a few games above .500 each month, they never gained any traction.
Injuries and Lack of Talent
For the Angels to be competitive, they would have needed everything to break right; unfortunately that didn’t happen. Los Angeles lost promising starting pitchers Garrett Richards and Andrew Heaney to season-ending injuries early in the campaign.
C.J. Cron was enjoying a bit of a breakout season this year, with an OPS+ of 117, before breaking his hand and missing a chunk of the season. Slick fielding shortstop, Andrelton Simmons also missed about a quarter of the season.
It’s also well known that the Angels have the worst farm system in baseball; so, while certain teams like the New York Yankees and Houston Astros have been able to play highly-regarded prospects the last few seasons, the Angels had no one to turn to. In a cruel twist, Nick Tropeano was one of the few Angels prospects to make an impact in 2016, but he, too, succumbed to a season-ending injury.
A Man on an Island
Los Angeles may have to come to the reality that the only way to re-stock the cupboard is to trade Trout, who was excellent once again in 2016, to the surprise of absolutely no one.
Trout once again led the AL with a 10.6 WAR, and led in on-base percentage (the .441% being a career-best). Additionally, Trout finished second in the league with a .991 OPS and fifth with a .315 batting average. Most years, this would make Trout a slam dunk MVP choice, but due to voter fatigue and playing on a middling team, it’s very possible Trout won’t even finish in the top three.
Trout is far and away the best player on the Angels, and it would be scary to imagine where the team would have finished without his amazing exploits.
Help Maybin on the Way
While it may seem like Trout is the only competent player on the Angels roster, there are reasons to be hopeful in 2017. Los Angeles recently acquired outfielder Cameron Maybin from the Detroit Tigers. While Maybin might not be the most exciting player, he is a capable major leaguer. Couple Maybin with solid right fielder Kole Calhoun and the aforementioned Trout, and the Angels have the makings of a strong outfield.
The lineup should also get a boost from a healthy Cron, who will look to build on his strong season last year. Also, while he may not be the player he once was, Albert Pujols can still provide some thump as the DH, as evidenced by his 31 homer, 114 OPS+ campaign.
Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, the Angels are going to finally start shedding payroll from some of the hideous free agent signings of the last few years. Being free of the dead weight of a handful of contracts will certainly help, but the Angels must be more prudent with the weak 2017 free agent class.
The 2016 season did not go well for Angels fans, and the team still has a long way to become relevant again. Hopefully, with a little more luck and a whole lot more of Mike Trout, fans will have something more than draft positioning to root for in 2017.