May 17, 2014; Anaheim, CA, USA; Los Angeles Angels outfielders Grant Green (10) and Collin Cowgill (7) celebrate with shortstop Erick Aybar (2) and second baseman Howie Kendrick (47) the 6-0 victory against the Tampa Bay Rays at Angel Stadium of Anaheim. Mandatory Credit: Gary Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

LA Angels May Progress Report

The Los Angeles Angels had an even better May than April as they continue erasing the demons of 2012 and 2013. Here is the Angels’ May progress report.

 

Jun 10, 2014; Anaheim, CA, USA; Los Angeles Angels right fielder Collin Cowgill (7) celebrates after hitting a walk off home run during the fourteenth inning against the Oakland Athletics at Angel Stadium of Anaheim. Mandatory Credit: Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

Building on a Successful April

Coming into last season, the first goal was to get off to a good start. That goal was not met. Going into this season, the initial objective was the same.

This time the team came through.

It wasn’t fantastic, but doable. The Angels went 10-10 in their first 20 games, a start that might have given them the division title  in 2012. By the end of the month, the team completed its first above-.500 April since 2011.

Signs pointed to a much better season. The offense was rolling. The starting pitching was consistent. The defense was vastly improved. The only blemish was the ninth inning, where the bullpen (Ernesto Frieri) seemed to fall off a cliff.

At one point in May, the Angels were top five in fewest runs allowed in innings one through eight, but allowed the most runs in the ninth.

Even that has changed. All that’s really left now is a long winning streak, one that could catapult the Angels forward towards October.

 

Some Stats for the Month of May

Offense (AL rank in parentheses)

  • Batting Average: .255 (8th)
  • On Base Percentage: .325 (6th)
  • Slugging Percentage: .400 (8th)
  • OPS: .724 (6th)
  • Runs: 115 (10th)
  • Hits: 242 (10th)
  • Doubles: 52 (4th)
  • Triples: 8 (1st)
  • Homeruns: 23 (9th)
  • Extra Base Hits: 83 (6th)
  • Stolen Bases: 15 (9th)
  • Sacrifice Bunts: 5 (7th)
  • Sacrifice Flies: 10 (3rd)

Pitching

  • ERA: 3.98 (11th)
  • WHIP: 1.22 (3rd)
  • SO: 221 (5th)
  • Batting Average Against: .232 (2nd)
  • Runs Allowed: 264 (5th)

 

The Return of the Role Players

This is my favorite part. Role players were huge in thrusting the Angels to the top of the AL West from 2004 through 2009. Despite where their minor league system ranks, the Halos have a lot of young players under their control contributing now. The brightest spot might be 2011 First Round pick CJ Cron. Cron hit .301 / .328 / .548 in 11 games after being called up.

Other Angels role players who excelled in May include the following…

Collin Cowgill: .284 / .370 / .346

Grant Green: .361 / .375 / .475

Efren Navarro: .310 / .375 / .483

This one of the key ingredients that goes into a playoff team.

 

Jun 3, 2014; Houston, TX, USA; Los Angeles Angels first baseman Albert Pujols (5) gets a single during the fourth inning against the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Night and Day

Albert Pujols torched the baseball in April, hitting nine homeruns, seven doubles, driving in 23 RBI, and hitting .279 / .341 / .586.

In May, Albert cooled off a bit, hitting .234 / .293 / .349.

It’s a long slump, but the good news is that Pujols gave himself a cushion that allows a bigger window to bring his numbers back up than in the last two seasons, especially 2012.

One positive trend emerging, however, is the number of productive role players stepping up with Josh Hamilton out for 8 weeks. This takes pressure off Pujols and Hamilton to have big years for the Halos to compete.

Personally, I think it’s more important for Mike Trout to have a big year. He’s the centerpiece now.

 

Looking Ahead to June

The Angels are playing good, consistent baseball. They’ve had a steady diet of two and three game winning streaks, mixed with a few two game losing streaks, but not one losing streak of more than three.

People thought going into the season that the Angels weren’t going to have the pitching to compete. Their offense would need to slug their way to the playoffs. That was mostly based on what happened in 2013, a different season. There was also much uncertainty going with such a young starting rotation, but that rotation has been one of the team’s brightest spots.

The Halos need to keep doing what they’re doing. Trout just needs to be Trout. Josh Hamilton is back. Albert Pujols is in a slump, but he’ll come out of it. Garrett Richards has been a hidden gem. Joe Smith has bridged a big gap in the bullpen.

This is an overall much better team than the last few seasons.

There is something the Angels still haven’t fully remedied: performing against their own division. The A’s have had the Angels’ number so far this season. The Halos are doing well overall against the other three teams. But they need to get it going against the A’s.

The Angels are playing great against the AL Central, AL East, and in interleague play. But they’re underperforming against their own division. With that being said,  if the Angels play at least .500 ball against their own division, they will be bound for October baseball.

Next up they’ll face the Braves.  You can grab Angels vs. Braves tickets from Front Row Seats.

 

Jun 9, 2014; Anaheim, CA, USA; Los Angeles Angels center fielder Mike Trout (27) reacts during the game against the Oakland Athletics at Angel Stadium of Anaheim. The Angels defeated the Athletics 4-1. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Facts and Figures

  • The Angels have not come to an agreement with left-hander Sean Newcomb or right-hander Joe Gatto, their two top picks from the 2014 First-Year Player Draft.
  • If Angels fans are concerned their team won’t catch up to the A’s, just know that the both teams have been back and forth for years. One example is September 2012, when the Halos went into Oakland and swept the A’s, and then lost 2 out of 3 against the A’s a week later at home. Things can change at any time in this game.
  • Another example, but a different team, is the 2012 Texas Rangers. The Angels won 7 of the first 10 meetings between the two clubs, and then Texas won 6 of the remaining 9. That’s baseball.

Tags: Albert Pujols Los Angeles Angels Mike Trout

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