The Los Angeles Angels have not made the postseason since 2014. If you’re an Angels fan, you have to be asking how is that even possible when the team has the best player in the game in Mike Trout? It can hardly be debated that Trout isn’t deserving of his top billing. Still, the Angels are in a playoff drought and haven’t won a playoff series since 2009. This season might be the year that changes everything for the Halos.
The Angels ball club made some predictable front office changes. General manager Billy Eppler was let go and former Atlanta Braves executive Perry Minasian was brought in. Minasian made several moves to try and plug up some holes within the roster. He traded for Jose Iglesias, Dexter Fowler, Alex Cobb, and Raisel.
Minasian also signed Jose Quintana, Kurt Suzuki and Alex Claudio. The Angels have been wasting some tremendous years of Trouts playing career, the team needs to get into the postseason and make a run, 2021 could be the year.
“We have one goal coming into camp, and that’s trying to win a World Series. And obviously, if you don’t do that, you fall short. So, I haven’t done that, obviously, yet. I’ve got to take it one step at a time, just get to the playoffs and see what happens,” Trout said.
In the shortened 60-game season of 2020, the Angels went a meager 26-34. The team started the last season’s campaign 12-24 ensuring that another year was lost. With 14 blown saves, the Angels were at a Major League Baseball (MLB) worst.
Pitching has been overhauled from last season to make the Angels contenders with the American League’s (AL) best. Veterans Cobb and Quintana have been brought in to bolster the depth and Shohei Ohtani is poised for a great bounce-back season both on the mound and at the plate. Raisel’s addition to the bullpen should also help closing games and get them far away from 14 blown saves that stunted the Angels last season.
Despite the offseason moves, the Angels are returning most of the same position players. Jared Walsh could be an important piece of the playoff puzzle. Walsh nine times in 99 at-bats last season and manager Joe Maddon could phase in Walsh to replace the aging Albert Pujols. Pujols is in the final season of a huge contract he signed back in 2012.
Trout will be 30 come August, and not having a playoff win is a glaring mark on his otherwise incredible resume. The three-time MVP used his time this offseason to work more on his swing than usual.
“When you’re going good you’re going good, but when you’re not feeling so good, you try to get back to feeling good. It happens a lot,” Trout said.
He wasn’t feeling right at the plate so he and teammate Ohtani have been doing drills to keep square at the plate. Maddon has said that he is inclined to have Trout bat third instead of his usual second.
“I like in the first time through that Mike has a chance to have two guys on in front of him, as opposed to just one. And then we’ll see, because after that it becomes serendipitous, anyway,” Maddon said.
Manager Joe Maddon is finally getting to show his players who he truly is and build a relationship that can stand the test of time. Maddon was hired over 18 months ago but because of the COVID-19 pandemic, things haven’t been all that normal. Maddon had to deal with a shortened spring training and a condensed season with mostly virtual communications. This year, although covid restrictions are still in place the players and coaching staff have more face time.
“We couldn’t get the full effect, the ‘Maddon effect’,” Trout said.
The Angels will get their first taste at a full season with Maddon at the helm, who has been praised by new GM Minasian. Minasian did not hire Maddon but has shown his full support since joining the Angels.
“For me being a first-time general manager, there’s nothing more comforting than having a guy like that in the dugout and clubhouse, who you can give the keys to the car to and let him drive,” Minasian said.
Time will tell if 2021 is the year that the Angels and Mike Trout make it back to the postseason.