The MLB’s Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim — which is entirely too long of a name for professional sports to handle — are right on the cusp of being great. Barring some meltdown of Atlanta Braves proportion, they are going to make the playoffs — but is that something Angels fans are okay with — just making the playoffs?
A lineup that contains last names to the likes of Hamilton, Pujols, Freese and Trout should be competing for a World Series, right? Right. The issue: the bullpen stinks and the back end of their starting rotation hasn’t exactly been steady by any means.
On top of that, the two “studs” the Angels signed from St. Louis have been much more sizzle than actual steak.
ALBERT THE (NOT SO) GREAT
Let’s start with Albert Pujols, because he got to Los Angeles/Anaheim first (see why that is stupid). Pujols played 11 seasons in St. Louis before packing his bags and heading west. In those 11 seasons, Pujols hit well above .312 on average, every year except for 2011, where he hit .299. His lowest home run total was 32 in 2007.
His numbers have been in a downward spiral ever since he took off the bird’s uniform. First year in Los Angelaheim (editors note: put that on a jersey) he hit .285, last year .258, and now he’s fluttering right at .254. I suppose his power has picked up a bit, which is a positive sign. He followed up his 30 home runs in 2012 with 17 last year, a number that he has already matched this season.
Freese’s numbers have dropped just as drastically.
HIS BAT IS FREESING COLD
Granted, last year in in St. Louis was not his best — he probably needed the change of scenery in reality — he hit for an average of .262. In the five seasons prior, he always was above .290. This season? .245. He has been coming on a bit as of late, but regardless… not good. His play, in his first year, has already earned him rumors of being on the trading block.
Los Angeles probably should have seen this coming when Freese hit .169 while striking out 16 times in the playoffs last year on the Cards run. I suppose they were hoping his play would improve — similar to how any team that makes a play to acquire him this month will be hoping. Or, how the Angels hope he will pick it up if they want to make any serious championship run.
The Angels are currently 48-36, sitting four games back of the Oakland A’s. And speaking of getting better through trades, Oakland just landed a big time one today. The Athletics bringing in Jeff Samardzja and Jason Hammel gives Oakland five of the top 33 starters, based on ERA, in the league (Per ESPN Stats).
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) July 5, 2014
This puts even more pressure on the Angels to do something to try and close the gap in the AL West, which isn’t to say that haven’t already been doing that. Los Angelaheim (is that catching on at all?) is 18-12 since the start of June – so it isn’t like they are struggling to put wins together. As good as Mike Trout has been playing, it’s kind of hard not to win games.
The trade deadline, for you people that have trouble following baseball in the dog days of summer, is the end of July. Freese will have at least until All-Star Weekend to show some of these flashes:
Freese did have a pretty clutch moment this past weekend against the Astros, doubling home two runs, which would prove to be the difference. However, he is going to have to do a bit more than that to win everyone over in the Golden State.
Pujols also has been playing a bit better, and voiced his approval of management’s decision to play him in the field. Not quite playing to his $189 million dollar contract that he is set to earn over the next seven years – but certainly better. Hopefully, for the Angels sake, Freese/Pujols can put together and help the team make an exciting late season push for the NL West crown.
Maybe they should start wearing Cardinals undershirts under their Angel jersey; the red wouldn’t stick out.