We have to start with Mike Trout in Anaheim. When the best player in baseball is on your team, it is a good start. The Angels made a push to be competitive this season, but with Seattle and Houston in the same division it is tough. Adding Justin Upton, Zack Cozart, and Ian Kinsler are solid additions, but at their age this a go for it now strategy and it isn’t going to work in the long run. The Angels have not been a team to rebuild through the minors, and that shows. While this is a quality team, it isn’t up to par with the rest of the AL. The big offseason news was adding Shohei Ohtani, who they need to be careful with. Given he can DH, play the field, and pitch, this sets them up for numerous strategies. Pitching has been an issue with the Angels, and they have a few promising arms but health continues to be an issue.
The hype surrounding the 2018 Angels team was gained long before the season began. The team won the Shohei Ohtani sweepstakes, adding a talent that possesses both a mound presence and the ability to hit for average or power. Not that this team needed to add another generation talent to a roster that is filled with them, but it didn’t hurt their mold. The flexibility that Ohtani provides any organization is something that works towards a favorable condition. Adding a younger player to this organization continues their next-in-line construction. The team added Albert Pujols a few seasons ago and he was an instrumental voice for Mike Trout when he entered the league. Trout has since posted numbers that are deserving of different MVP titles and league titles, marking him as one of the best players currently competing at the professional level. This is the hope the team looks to stand by for Ohtani. Place him within close corridors of Trout and Pujols and his talents will flourish. The team also has many different contribution talents that often are shaded from the limelight due to the star power and media presence these previously mentioned players accrue. Justin Upton and Kole Calhoun have quietly placed themselves within prime role positions. Each year their production continues to build, helping the team protect runs and boost the presence on the scoreboard. Shying away from the media attention has allowed these two the ability to slot themselves within everyday roles and position themselves in the middle of the order on a day-to-day basis. The injury bug is the major barricade for the team this season. They have seen their fair share of players claim 60-day DL slots. Amongst these players include a bulk of the starting pitchers the team possesses. This has put a major bearing on the shoulders of guys like Andrew Heaney and Jaime Barria. Starters like the two mentioned possess little major league experience. Scaling up and down the current rotation and the 4-man carousal has a combined experience of under 10 years within the professional ranks. This is an issue that will slowly smooth itself out. Once the bigger arms return to the lineup this team will be a force to be reckoned with in the American League. As the season approaches October, look for the team to shuffle Ohtani into a few spot starts to see if he can capitalize on early-season woes that spelled his removal from the rotation. The team is in desperate need of starters, but forcing Ohtani into an uncomfortable position of high usage would only hurt the team in the long haul.