The Angels are now 20 years removed from their one and only World Series title back in 2002, and fans are craving for some type of playoff success to come along. Well, so far, the 2022 team has looked like one that could satisfy fans needs. The Angels campaign so far has looked strong, and here’s how they’ve done it.
The Angels, as of Monday night, hold a record of 19-11, good for 1st in the AL West. In fact, earlier this afternoon, just 1 out away from a loss to the Nationals, they rallied behind a Shohei Ohtani double and Anthony Rendon walk off single to secure the series win over the Nats. Since starting the year off 1-3, the Angels have went 18-8, including going on multiple win streaks, and there are some obvious improvements from last year that are showing through. First off, let’s start with the obvious difference. Mike Trout is back, and he is healthy. Trout is currently batting over .300 with 6 HR’s and 13 RBI’s. He also is 3rd in the MLB in OPS. Trout is back, he’s fresh, and is looking like a top AL MVP candidate once again. However, that 3rd in OPS rank doesn’t even rank him first on the team, which brings us to the next key factor for the Halo’s so far.
The distinction of best OPS on the Angels and in the MLB belongs to breakout star Taylor Ward. Ward has proved early on in the season that he deserves a top spot in the lineup. This season he has been a nearly perfect hitter, displaying both power and discipline at the lead-off spot. It seems every year the Angels have a guy that breaks out into an All-Star caliber player, and this year that guy may be Taylor Ward. However, the offense is not the only thing looking new and improved this year.
Let’s talk about the pitching staff. The Angels bullpen is simply not blowing leads anymore, which is all they’ve been asked to do the past half decade. Not only does the bullpen look sharp, the starting rotation looks promising as well. We all know what Shohei Ohtani can do on the mound, but guys like Noah Syndergaard and Patrick Sandoval have also already had multiple quality outings. Things are most definitely finally looking up for this pitching staff.
And all this is without mentioning the fact that some elements from the Angels could get even better. Shohei Ohtani’s bat hasn’t truly woken up yet, nor has Anthony Rendon’s. David Fletcher, an over .300 hitter last year, is batting under .200. While some of these guys with crazy good numbers like Ward may come back down to earth, the Angels should not be worried, as they know they have these guys who can step up and regain the form they had last season.
It may be only be a couple weeks into May but, there is a lot of optimism in Anaheim, and rightfully so. If the Angels keep the bats hot and the pitching staff doesn’t lose the team games, a legitimate playoff run could be in the Angels future for the first time in a long time.