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Is This Finally the Angels’ Year?

The Angels are poised to make the playoffs for the first time since 2014. The baseball world — and Mike Trout — deserve that.

Believe it or not, Mike Trout has already been in Major League Baseball for 12 seasons. Yet somehow, in his 1,323-game all-time great career with the Los Angeles Angels, he has played just three games in the postseason — a three-game Division Series sweep at the hands of the Kansas City Royals.

It’s one of the more disappointing occurrences of baseball’s modern era. Year after year, the playoffs have been deprived of this generation’s best player, a three-time American League MVP and nine-time All-Star who’s a true five-tool player on and off the field. But due to injuries, bad pitching, strong AL West competition and poor management, Trout hasn’t been able to lead the Halos to the postseason on a consistent basis.

It finally looks like that’s about to change.

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Led by Trout and two-way defending-MVP phenom Shohei Ohtani, the Angels are tied for first in the AL West and have assembled a roster built to last under general manager Perry Minasian.

They’ve done it through free agency and internal development. The franchise flexed its financial muscle in 2019 by bringing in All-Star third baseman Anthony Rendon on a seven-year, $245 million contract after he won the World Series with the Nationals. The Angels have also seen the emergence of Jared Walsh, a 39th-round draft pick who hit 29 homers last year and drove in 98 runs. 2015 first-round pick, outfielder Taylor Ward, is off to a scorching start in 2022 and is slashing .385/.500/.747 with eight homers in 91 at-bats. It’s all helped Los Angeles emerge among the elite offensive teams in the AL.

Among AL teams, they are:

  • First with 182 runs scored
  • First with 176 RBIs
  • First with a .421 team slugging percentage
  • First with 302 hits
  • Tied for first with 49 home runs
  • Tied for first with a .742 OPS
  • Second with a .246 team average (yes, that’s sad, but that’s another matter altogether)
  • Second with a .321 on-base percentage
  • Fourth with 22 stolen bases
  • Fourth with 58 doubles

Aside from Ohtani’s eight homers, 26 RBIs, and five stolen bases, he also has a 2.78 ERA and 2.11 FIP in six starts to lead a surprisingly impressive pitching staff where Patrick Sandoval, Noah Syndergaard, Michael Lorenzen, and Reid Detmers all have ERAs under 4. Even if the Angels’ pitching staff is average the rest of the year while the offense, led by Trout, Ohtani, Ward, Walsh, and Rendon, maintain this production, LA will get back in the postseason after an eight-year absence.

Trout’s only playoff run was a huge disappointment, with just one hit and three walks in 15 plate appearances. He, the Angels, and the entire baseball universe can’t wait for him to return to the postseason and right those wrongs. As we approach the quarter pole of the 2022 regular season, the Angels are finally trending in the right direction.