Los Angeles Angels are primed for a playoff push

(Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images)
(Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images) /

Don’t look now, but the Los Angeles Angels, despite losing all-world player Mike Trout for two months, are just one game out of the second wild-card spot in the American League.

Though the Los Angeles Angels are at exactly .500 with 58 wins and 58 losses, they are in the playoff pack due to less than stellar American League. Currently, the Angels are among eight teams within four games of that last spot.

The Angels are blocked from making the playoffs unless they get a wild card spot because the Houston Astros, despite recent struggles, are 14 games ahead of them in the AL West. The Angels have shot up the standing by going 7 and 3 in the month of August so far and have outscored their opponents by 14 runs.

On Thursday night, the Angels won in much the same way they did when Trout was down, and they won the same way with Trout on the team. When Trout went down in late May it would have been easy for the team to fold but despite being without their leader the Angels found away to stay in contention.

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One of the players to step up in Trout’s absence was shortstop Andrelton Simmons. The slick fielding shortstop is still providing great defense up the middle of the infield leading the league in defensive WAR (2.8). Simmons has added a new dimension with his bat as well.

Simmons is hitting a career high .304 while approaching his career high in home runs of 17 by hitting 12 this year. He is all but assured to break his season high 59 runs batted in as he already has 52 this year.

When Trout went down Simmons bat lit up raising his batting average points since then and hitting 8 of his 12 home runs since then as well. Thursday night against the Seattle Mariners Simmons gave the Angels a 3-0 lead with a two-run home run that would stick until the bottom of the eighth inning.

Of course, the Angels couldn’t hold on to their lead as closer Bud Norris blew his 4th save, the bullpen has been an Achilles’ heel for the Angels this year as that was the 14th blown save of the season for the bullpen.

So the Angels needed a different kind of save, and in the top of the ninth Mike Trout was willing to provide. Since coming back from the disabled list, Trout has played like a player possessed. Trout is hitting .367 with seven home runs and 19 RBI in just 24 games.

With the game tied and the bases loaded in the bottom of the eighth Trout hit a bases clearing double providing the final margin of victory at 6-3 in favor of the Angels.

A .500 record at this point of the season doesn’t guarantee a playoff spot, but when you lose a perennial MVP candidate for a month and a half then being one game out of a playoff spot is cause for celebration.

Next: Appreciating Mike Trout's greatness

It’s a long season. With 46 games remaining on the Los Angeles Angels schedule we should not count them out, especially with Mike Trout.