Los Angeles Angels: Down But Not Out?
Wednesday May 2nd, 2012
Bryan Sheehan (Baseball Writer): It may only be a month into the season, but when your new, $240 million star is in the worst slump of his career, there’s a reason to panic. The Los Angeles Angels, now 9-15, are in near-crisis mode because of their struggling offense helmed by Albert Pujols. Flirting with the Mendoza Line, King Albert’s .208 average and grand total of zero home runs equaled that of Bobby Abreu, who was released by the Angels last week. The bright spot now, it seems, is 20-year-old Mike Trout, a rookie as highly touted as Bryce Harper. But can he, along with new addition C.J. Wilson and fellow ace Jered Weaver rally the team after the franchise’s third worst start in history? Jump it to find out!
The Angels are a sinking ship. Two of the three starting outfielders, Torii Hunter and Vernon Wells, are past their primes at ages 36 and 33, respectively, and it shows in their play. While Hunter is leading the team with a .310 batting average and 14 RBIs, his average since coming to Los Angeles in 2008 is just .280, and his performance has been down in the past few years. As for Wells, arguably the biggest headache for Angels’ fans and management alike, is getting paid $21 million, eighth highest of any player in the league. Wells’ salary is almost double what Pujols is making ($12 million), to hit just .229 and drive in only eight runs through the first month of play. What’s worse, the .229 start isn’t a fluke: it’s actually better than his 2011 season average of .218. Moving on to the infield, a shortstop hitting just two points over the Mendoza Line, Erick Aybar, is set between Howie Kendrick and Maicer Izturis, neither of whom are playing up to snuff.
And that brings us to the 240 million dollar man himself. April has been statistically the worst month in Pujols’ 12 year career, a far cry from the career averages that warranted a comparison to Babe Ruth in an earlier article. Still confident in his swing, Pujols brushed off reporters’ fears that something is wrong.
“I know what I need to do, and I’m making my adjustment. I’ve been doing it for 12 years, so I know my hitting. Only God knows my swing better than me.” Via AP
C.J. Wilson, another superstar brought in by Los Angeles during the offseason, has been very steady, just like the rest of the Angels’ starting staff. But unlike the Philadelphia Phillies, whose pitching is so good that it outweighs a slumping offense and allows for a five-hundred record, the Angels can’t seem to catch a break in what is one of the least intimidating divisions of baseball. Sure there are the Texas Rangers, but added in the mix are the Oakland Athletics and the Seattle Mariners, both in the bottom half of the league in batting average and runs per game. Yet, the Angels are 7.5 games back in the AL West. To go along with Wilson, who has a 2.70 ERA, are true Ace Jered Weaver (2.02 ERA), Dan Haren (3.34), Ervin Santana (6.16) and Jerome Williams (3.55). Besides Santana, 0-5 on the year, the rest of the staff has pitched pretty well, unable to get wins because of lacking run support. It doesn’t help that All-Star Jordan Walden has blown up in the bullpen and the club had to crown Scott Downs the temporary closer. This tumult in the ‘pen isn’t good for any team looking to contend later on in the year.
Will the Angels make the playoffs? It’s hard to say. Will the Angels break .500 this year? More than likely. Pujols, awful as he may be now, will eventually turn it back on and lead his team to more wins. If not, it’s going to be a long ten years in the City of Angels.
Today’s feature was prepared by Baseball Writer, Bryan Sheehan. You canfollow Bryan on Twitter (@BaseballHipster), read his interviews with Phillies’ minor league prospects at PhightingOn.com, and catch him writing the occasional article for ThroughTheFenceBaseball.com. Tweet him about this article and give him a follow and he will follow you back!
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Posted on May 2, 2012, in MLB Teams: Articles and Analysis and tagged AL West, albert pujols, baseball, cj wilson, dan haren, jered weaver, jerome williams, los angeles angels, mike scioscia, Mike Trout, mlb, peter bourjos, pujols, scott downs, Torii Hunter, vernon wells. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.