The Los Angeles Angels are sitting at 16-15, which puts them in third place in the AL West, 2.5 games behind the Oakland Athletics, and a half game behind the Texas Rangers. Their record doesn’t accurately portray how well the Angels have played thus far. They have the third best run differential in baseball, and only the Colorado Rockies and Chicago White Sox have scored more runs.
The Steamer projected standings have the Angels finishing at 86-76, giving them a 53 percent chance of making the playoffs. With the way their offense and defense has been playing, a little push by the pitching staff or a midseason acquisition could push them over the top.
With the possible exception of a healthy Troy Tulowitzki, Mike Trout is head and shoulders the best player in the major leagues. He’s continuing to hammer the ball this year, posting a .293/.380/.537 line. Over the last calendar year, Trout has an astonishing .328/.440/.568 line which gives him a 182 wRC+, the best mark in baseball. In addition, he’s compiled 11.8 fWAR, which is almost three more than the next closest player and would go down as one of the best single seasons in baseball history.
Albert Pujols has been experiencing a resurgence of sorts. The 34 year-old slugger is producing at a .296/.364/.600 clip with ten home runs. He’s striking out in just 9.3 percent of his plate appearances. He appears to be fully healthy and capable of producing numbers that are close to those from his prime seasons.
Howie Kendrick, Erick Aybar and Colin Cowgill are all enjoying strong seasons to this point. Chris Iannetta and Hank Conger have formed a nice duo behind the plate, and all in all Angels position players have almost two WAR more than the next closest team. Josh Hamilton should be a welcome addition to the lineup when he returns.
The pitching staff has been less solid though Garrett Richards is showing what he can do with his excellent stuff. At a steady mid to upper 90s, the right-hander has one of the best fastballs in the game, and he owns a 2.84 ERA with peripherals to match. C.J. Wilson is striking out hitters at a 26.1 percent clip, and Jered Weaver has somehow finagled his 85 mile per hour fastball to a 3.48 ERA.
Tyler Skaggs and Hector Santiago have had a couple of rough starts, and the bullpen has the second highest walk rate in baseball. These issues may straighten themselves out, and Skaggs has shown promise. Or, the Angels might make a push for a big name though their farm system is shallow.
In any case, the Angels should be contenders. Their group of position players is the best in baseball, and their pitching staff should be able to hold up their end of the bargain. After a disappointing 2013 season, the Angels are making a turnaround.