Los Angeles Angels: Evaluating the first third of the season

The Los Angeles Angels are suffering through another rocky series against the Seattle Mariners, dropping their sixth game of the season to their northwestern neighbors on Wednesday night. Despite their poor record against division opponents, the Angels rank second in the American League West, two games behind the Oakland Athletics. As their 29-23 record suggests, the Halos are off to a strong start, but there is some room for improvement. Here is a breakdown of their performance during the first third of the season.

Hitting: C

The Angel bats were hot during the month of April, but they cooled off considerably in May. Collectively, they hit thirty-seven home runs in April and only nineteen in May, although they still have two more games left in the month. As a team, they currently hold a .253 batting average, placing them seventh in the American League. None of these statistics suggest particularly poor play because the Angels haven’t been bad. But they also haven’t been as good as they could be.

A common theme for the Angels this season has been missed opportunities. They leave an average of 7.21 runners on base per game, and they have grounded into thirty-five double plays. Their inability to get hits at crucial moments is severely limiting their offensive production. In April, home runs often made up for those missed opportunities, but if the bats continue to lose power, the Angels will need to string together as many hits as possible in order to push runs across. So far, the Angels have done enough offensively, but they will need to make adjustments before the All-Star break.

Pitching: B

After a terrible season on the mound, the Angels have made pitching one of their strengths. During the first two months of the season, the pitching staff has had a 3.59 ERA, good for eleventh in MLB and third in the American League. The starting rotation and the bullpen have given up a combined 392 hits. This is the fewest given up by any team this season.

Despite the overall improvement in terms of pitching, the Angels still struggle with control. They have walked 180 batters this season. In addition, they have thrown thirty-one wild pitches­­–only the Chicago White Sox have surpassed that total. These control problems have plagued both starting pitchers and relievers, preventing them from earning an “A”.

Fielding: A-

With a former Golden Glove winner at first and a former World Series MVP at third, the Angels are a solid defensive team. So far, they have committed twenty-nine errors, seven of which have been made by pitchers. Conversely, they have turned fifty double plays. Overall, they have a respectable .985 fielding percentage and a defensive efficiency ratio of .717, third best in major league baseball.

One minor concern is two-time All-Star Mike Trout. The center fielder, who currently leads the American League in All-Star votes, has committed two errors this season, equaling his total from the entire 2013 season. However, the Angels as a whole have been a strong fielding team.