It was another disappointing season for the Los Angeles Angels in 2022, as the team finished third in the AL West in 2022 with a 73-89 record. Manager Joe Madden was relieved of his duties fewer than sixty games into the season and replaced with Phil Nevin, who didn’t even enjoy a bump in team performance that sometimes happens after a presiding manager is shown the door.
Despite fielding one of the greatest players of his generation, and the best two-way player since Babe Ruth, the Angels haven’t finished with a record above .500 since 2015, and haven’t made the playoffs since being swept in the ALDS in 2014 after claiming their division with 98 wins.
At one point this offseason, it looked like the team was going to change ownership, but current team owner Arte Moreno announced in late January 2023 that he is no longer exploring selling the team, which he has owned since 2003.
Expectations for 2023
What to expect from the Angels in 2023 largely hinges on whether Anthony Rendon, Mike Trout, and Shohei Otani are able to stay on the field for a full season, something the three haven’t been able to do since Rendon was signed prior to the 2020 season.
The additions of Urshela, Drury, and Renfroe should add depth to the lineup, with Urshela and Drury providing the team with depth at multiple positions. Renfroe has a proven track record as a power bat with five seasons of 26-plus home runs since 2017. Drury had -- by far -- his best offensive season in 2022, but hadn’t had a positive offensive season in which he played in more than 100 games since 2017.
The rotation, on paper, appears to be slightly improved over 2022, with Anderson an upgrade over the departed Noah Syndergaard and Michael Lorenzen. The bullpen returns a number of arms from last season and has added a number of depth options as minor league free agents in addition to Estevez.
Overall, the Angels project as a third-place team, not far behind the Mariners in the AL West. Their projected win totals right now are in the 83-85 range, which would be the team’s best since 2015. However, it is worth noting that the Angels have consistently, and often hugely, underperformed their projections going back to 2016. Even in years they were supposed to be competitive, like 2023, they’ve fallen well short. Maybe this is the year their fringe contender roster plays up rather than foundering, but maybe not.
Projected Roster (via Roster Resource)
- Taylor Ward - LF
- Mike Trout - CF
- Shohei Ohtani - DH
- Anthony Rendon - 3B
- Hunter Renfroe - RF
- Brandon Drury - 2B
- Jared Walsh - 1B
- Logan O’Hoppe - C
- Luis Rengifo - SS
Max Stassi - C
David Fletcher - INF
Gio Urshela - INF/OF
Brett Phillips - OF
Shohei Ohtani - RHP
Tyler Anderson - LHP
Patrick Sandoval - LHP
Jose Suarez - LHP
Reid Detmers - LHP
Tucker Davidson - LHP
Carlos Estevez - RHP
Jimmy Herget - RHP
Ryan Tepera - RHP
Aaron Loup - LHP
Andrew Wantz - RHP
Jose Quijada - LHP
Zack Weiss - RHP
Jaime Barria - RHP
The Angels have two of the best players in the game in Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani — Trout has aged out of the best-in-class dominance he showcased through age 27, but is still a statistical monster, while Ohtani sets new records seemingly every day on both sides of the ball. The Angels have continually fallen flat at the not-so-hard challenge of building a competitive roster around these two playoff-berth-in-a-box icons.
Maybe a healthy season from Anthony Rendon will help. Maybe the additions of Renfroe and Urshela add sufficient proven offensive performers to a lineup that seems fairly weak at the moment, though it might get better if Drury carries over his 2022 numbers and Walsh Jared Walsh returns to how he hit in 2021.
Unfortunately, for a team with Trout and Ohtani, there are far too many of these that probably could’ve been rectified in some way. Beyond Rendon, the rest of the infield is weak-to-awful. Jared Walsh was horrendous in 2022 (-0.6 fWAR) and is recovering from thoracic outlet syndrome surgery; his presumed backup is Urshela, who probably won’t hit enough to justify starting at first base. Some combination of Urshela, Drury, David Fletcher, and Luis Rengifo will round out the rest of the infield, and all are stretched as starters.
But even beyond all that, the Angels probably have a more frustrating problem — on paper, they look like they have the worst bullpen in the game. There’s an aphorism, perhaps a false one, that teams overspend on relievers because watching leads slip away is more demoralizing than a run-of-the-mill loss. If that aphorism is a truism, it could be another miserable season in Anaheim unless some arms step up — right now, the Angels look like they have a few average relievers and a bunch of replacement-level traumatizers. Bullpen projections are the least reliable out of all the components, but still, this could be a major pain point beyond the lack of punch in the infield.
Reinforcements from the Farm
The team’s arguably top prospect, catcher Logan O’Hoppe, is likely to share duties with Max Stassi – possibly as the lead backstop of a platoon - after performing well in Double-A last season. That’s not quite a midseason reinforcement, though.
Beyond that, there’s not much. Low-slot righty Sam Bachman might provide some much-needed bullpen succor, but struggled as a starter in Double-A last year. Infielder Zach Neto could eventually come up and help that unit, but he was the 13th overall pick in the 2022 draft and it’s not clear whether the Angels will rush him up to the majors after fewer than say, 500 major league PAs.
Braves history/outlook against the team
The Braves and Angels last met in 2022, with the Braves taking two of three in Atlanta in June. Prior to that, the two teams had not met since 2017 when the Braves lost a three-game series in Anaheim. The two teams were to have played in Atlanta in 2020, but the series was cancelled due to the pandemic.
The Braves and Angels will clash in Atlanta during a three-game series from July 31-August 2. Given the timing of the Trade Deadline, the big question may be whether or not Atlanta sees Ohtani in that series.