Los Angeles Angels: Mid-Season Report Card
Team: Los Angeles Angels
Record: 44-49 (11 GB)
Biggest Surprise of First Half:
The outfield duo of J.B. Shuck and Peter Bourjos. Bourjos has raked in the 40 games he’s played this season, producing a slash line of .333/.392/.457. To put that in perspective, Bourjos’ slash line for his first three MLB seasons was .247/.301/.402. Of course, 40 games is an extremely small sample size, and his 2013 numbers are somewhat inflated due to an unsustainable BABIP (batting average on balls in play) of .404. But production is production. The problem with Bourjos is his inability to stay on the field. Having already missed 38 games earlier in the season, Bourjos went back to the DL on June 30 with a broken wrist. Shuck, however, has been impressive in his place. Before 2013, Shuck only had 37 games of ML experience, all with the Houston Astros in 2011. That hasn’t stopped him from putting up some solid numbers (.301/.344/.383) in his 66 games with the Angels this season.
Biggest Disappointment of First Half:
Josh Hamilton: This one’s a no-brainer. Considering the $123 million over 5 years the Angels committed to Hamilton this past off-season, it’s probably safe to say that Hamilton is not quite performing as expected. While the power is still there (his 14 homers thus far put him on pace for 25 this season), it certainly isn’t what it was last year, when he smashed 43 of them for the Texas Rangers. Hamilton’s biggest issues, though, are his shockingly low batting average (.217) and on-base percentage (.286). Both those marks would easily set career lows for Hamilton. The one thing he seems to have retained from last season is his high strikeout rate. His 2013 rate (25.1%) essentially mirrors his 2012 rate (25.5%).
Mike Trout. For whatever reason, Trout isn’t getting the pub he got last year. Maybe it’s because he isn’t a rookie anymore. Maybe it’s because the Angels aren’t in contention. But Mike Trout, for those who don’t know, is still really good at baseball. His 2013 numbers (.322/.400/.568) are practically duplicates of his 2012 numbers (.326/.399/.564). His 15 homers put him on pace for 26 (compared to 30 in 2012). Trout has even cut down on his strikeouts by over 5%. Overall, it could be argued that Mike Trout has actually slightly improved on his 10.7 WAR 2012 season. So questions like “Is Mike Trout actually human?” and “Did Mike Trout really come out the womb holding a baseball bat?” are still completely valid.
Prospect Ready to Make an Impact:
None. The Angels have a very weak farm system, and their top prospect, Kaleb Cowart, is scuffling a bit at AA. They will have to make do with what they have now, and hope they can make a run without the help of a spark plug from their minor league system. Utility man Matt Long could be close to a call-up, as he has put up some good numbers in 2013 with AA Arkansas and AAA Salt Lake City. But Long, at 26, is a marginal prospect and can’t be expected to heavily impact the team in 2013.
Contender or Pretender:
Pretender, but potential contender. With two really good teams (the Rangers and the Oakland Athletics) battling it out at the top of the AL West and the Angels already 11 games back, it’s going to be very tough for Anaheim to climb into contention. But with 23 games remaining against those two teams, it is conceivable that the Angels could make a run. If Josh Hamilton starts to hit like he can and the Angels can add a decent starter, then there is a good chance they will be part of the picture come September.
Overall Team Analysis:
The Angels have greatly disappointed thus far in 2013. But a hot finish to the first half has them creeping toward .500 again. With a solid top three in their rotation (Jered Weaver, C.J. Wilson, Jason Vargas), the Angels need to find another starter or two, as Jerome Williams has struggled mightily of late and Joe Blanton has been terrible all year. One look at the lineup, though, and it becomes easy to look past the pitching problems. There are the usual suspects, of course (Trout, Albert Pujols). But with Howie Kendrick putting together a very nice year and Mark Trumbo leading the team in homers (with 20), this offense is arguably as good as any in baseball. Like last year, however, a bottom-half bullpen (20th in ERA) is hurting the Angels. And at the end of the day, this team is only going as far as the rotation and bullpen can take them.