Even after a hot start for the Los Angeles Angels, the team ended in the same place they did last year, finishing fourth in the AL West. After starting out in the thick of the playoff race, the Angels had a rough second half and finished with the exact same record as last year at 80-82. While there are a lot of positives to take from the season, the team’s future is starting to come into question.
Los Angeles Angels 2018 Season Recap
After signing Shohei Ohtani to a contract last off-season, all eyes were on the Japanese phenom as he made his transition into MLB. He showed up big in his rookie year, even though it was cut short due to a UCL injury. In his first year, Ohtani hit .285 with 22 home runs and 61 RBI. He also had a very impressive .564 slugging percentage. As far as his pitching goes, he was also very impressive while pitching to a 4-2 record with a 3.31 ERA and 63 strikeouts. He also had an astounding 11 strikeouts per nine innings. If Ohtani can stay healthy, he will be part of the Angels run back to the playoffs.
End of An Era
After the last game of the season, manager Mike Scioscia announced that he would be stepping down as manager. This marks the end of nineteen years under Scioscia who has the winningest record as the manager of the Angels, leaving the organization with a 1,650-1,428 record. Scioscia also led the Angels to their first-ever World Series Championship in 2002 and two other ALCS appearances in 2005 and 2009. Where the Angels go from here under new manager Brad Ausmus will be an interesting process to watch.
Career Year for Simmons
One of the truly surprising highlights of the season came from Andrelton Simmons having the best batting year of his career. He hit a career-best .292 batting average while also setting career-high marks in RBI (75), on-base percentage (.337), and a .754 OPS. If Simmons can keep up this track, Simmons and Mike Trout will be able to lead the Angels as the veteran powerhouses to help them back to the playoffs.
Trout Continues to Shine
It will come as no surprise to Angels fans, but Mike Trout was once again one of the best players in all of baseball. Though Mookie Betts is the heavy favorite for the AL MVP, Trout should not be far behind. In 2018, Trout eclipsed the 10-bWAR mark for the third time in his career with 10.2. Betts with 10.9 was the only player with more in MLB. Trout added 39 home runs, 24 doubles, 24 steals, 122 walks, and 101 runs scored. He also led MLB in OBP (.460) and OPS (1.088).
The biggest issue now facing the Angels is figuring out how to compete with one of the best players in the history of the game on the roster. Trout is signed through 2020 but currently has just one playoff appearance on his resume. That was all the way back in 2014. If Los Angeles cannot seriously compete for a World Series with Trout on the roster, it will go down as a huge failure for a franchise eager to return to glory.
The Angels had a great start to the season but collapsed in the second half, due in part to injuries to some key players such as Zack Cozart and Albert Pujols. With a fully healthy team, the Angels could be poised to make the AL West extremely competitive next season. But the first order of business will be to figure their plan under Ausmus and see what route they take to making that happen.
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