FINAL 2013 SEASON RECORD:
78 wins and 84 losses
Third place in the American League Western Division
17 1/2 games behind the Oakland Athletics
You know your season was an underachieving one at best and a downright disappointing one at worst when you have a chance to finish .500 or better and knock a contender out of the playoffs going into your team’s last four games, and you fail miserably.
That’s exactly what happened to these Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim as they ended their 2013 campaign like whipped puppies, the Texas Rangers making Tex-Mex barbecue out of them in sweeping four straight from Mike Scioscia’s club and sending the Halos off into the winter with their tails between their legs, committing five errors in their 6-2 loss on Sunday.
Not that it was a sudden collapse as they weren’t playing too great before that, the Angels finishing the season losing six of their last eight games.
Three factors proved to be the downfall for this team:
1. INJURIES, INJURIES, INJURES!
When Jered Weaver‘s elbow was broken by a line drive in Texas in April, I felt a sense of doom of things to come for the Halos.
And I was proved right as although he had a decent season with his 11-8 record and 3.27 earned run average, the Angels’ ace made 24 starts, which was well below his average .
Speedy center fielder Peter Bourjos played only 55 games because of various ailments, but what really killed the Angels was the left heel of Albert Pujols, which betrayed the star as it suffered from a torn plantar fascia and hobbled him all year; any team that loses a player like Pujols would be maimed.
It was a credit to Pujols that he managed to play in 99 games, hit 17 home runs, and drive in 61 runs on essentially one leg as I’m sure his heel was responsible for his .258 average.
The Angels’ clubhouse looking like a MASH unit at times was one big factor, but so was this:
2. CHARLIE BROWN-LIKE PITCHING (outside of Weaver and C.J. Wilson)
Wilson, the left-hander who came to Anaheim as a free agent the same year Pujols did, was by far and away the Halos’ best pitcher as he led in wins (17) and strikeouts (188) to go with his solid 3.39 ERA.
Jason Vargas managed a winning record at 9-8, and Garret Richards and Jerome Williams did their best in going a combined 16-18 to round out the starting rotation.
Ernesto Frieri saved 37 out of 41 games, which no one can argue with, but it was his blown saves in Texas at the end of July which was the iceberg to his season, as was his 3.80 ERA – WAY too high for a closer – and his 11 home runs given up, including two on Sunday. If the Angels are going to be contenders next year and beyond, he needs to do better.
I know that it has seemed that I’ve been picking on this guy, and I’m sure that he’s a perfectly decent human being, but…
When it comes to Joe Blanton’s pitching ability, the right-hander was the poster boy for everything that went wrong with that staff in 2013.
I think these numbers bear my contention well:
- A 6.04 ERA, the highest among all American League starters,
- A record of just two wins and 14 losses; if that was not the worst winning percentage in the A.L., I’d very much like to know what was,
- 29 home runs and 180 hits given up in 132 and 2/3 innings.
Things got so bad for Blanton, who got a two-year, $15 million dollar deal in December, that he pitched only once after August 20 as it seemed at times that little leaguers could hit him.
3. SUB-PAR HITTING FROM TOO MANY KEY PLAYERS
The two that come to mind in this category are Mark Trumbo and super free agent Josh Hamilton.
If you judge strictly from power stats, Trumbo had a good year as he led the Angels in homers and RBIs with 34 and 100, respectively.
However, a good hitter’s average is just as important as his dingers and ribbies, if not more, and with his paltry .234 average and 184 strikeouts – which likewise led the team – I’m officially calling the first baseman/DH/outfielder’s 2013 season a disappointment as his sweeping swing indicates more season to come where he will either hit the ball out of sight of look bad striking out.
The same goes for Hamilton as for much of the season, lefties with good breaking stuff easily sent the outfielder back to the dugout as he missed badly at outside sliders in the dirt time and time again, failing to lay them off in totaling 158 strikeouts.
Hamilton had to go on a tear, batting .329 with five home runs and 27 RBIs over his last 45 games, to get his final batting average to .250 as after hitting .217 through August 7, his late fortune managed to get him to 21 homers and 79 RBIs, saving him from being called a complete bust.
On the flip side, Howie Kendrick was his usual good self with his .297 mark and his 13 homers, but the undisputed MVP of the Angels, for the second straight year, was Mike Trout.
An all-star starter in 2013 and last season’s Rookie of the Year, Trout obliterated the “sophomore jinx” as he led the Halos in five major categories:
* A .323 average, third in the league,
* 109 runs, which led the league,
* 110 walks, which also led the league,
* 190 hits, and…
* 33 stolen bases.
And for good measure, Trout had 27 home runs and 97 RBIs.
This is a young man – he turned 22 in August – who’s clearly one of the best players in baseball if not the best.
As his salary was but $510,000 this year, owner Arte Moreno absolutely must ante up and pay Trout what he deserves, because if he doesn’t, someone else definitely will – the New York Yankees, perhaps – when he becomes eligible for free agency after the 2017 season.
The problem is, with their huge salaries to Pujols and Hamilton, the Angels’ hands are tied. Luckily, they will have time to figure something as far as trying to make Trout a lifetime Angel.
In the meantime, if they want to be relevant in the A.L. West, these Angels need three things:
Pitching, pitching, and more pitching!
Pujols’ and Hamilton’s salaries will keep them from signing any free agent names this winter, so like with Trout, the Halos will have to figure things out, hope, and go to spring training in 2014 with optimism.
As well as avoid the injury bug!