Three reasons the Angels are where they are
There are many reasons for the situation the Angels currently find themselves in. At 55-47 it is not like Los Angeles is playing poorly but they do find themselves 5 GB of the Texas Rangers in 3rd place behind Oakland Athletics.
As the Angels head into Texas for a huge series starting today lets take a look at how the Angels got to where there are.
1. Mike Trout unable to make the team out of Spring Training due to illness.
With all of the talk of duel Most Valuable Player and Rookie of the Year awards for Mike Trout (.350/.407/.594 16 HR 49 RBI 75 RS 31 SB) the fact that he was not physically able to join the Major League Angels until the end of April might have cost the Halos the season in retrospect. Without Trout as a catalyst at the top of the order ANA struggled to get anything going offensively. Albert Pujols struggled mightily. Because Trout was unavailable Bobby Abreu received 26 unimpressive plate appearances at designated hitter (.208) as well as regular centerfielder Peter Bourjos (.167) in his stead. Erick Aybar's .227 average as the lead-off man signaled a change needed to be made before the season was doomed.
2. Bullpen struggles put team in a hole
April - Jordan Walden 8.31 ERA, Hisanori Takahashi 9.95 ERA, Kevin Jepsen 10.31 ERA. Six of the Angels 15 losses were credited to the bullpen. Even though the Angels have righted the ship to a certain degree after the trade for Ernesto Frieri the Halos still have a .500 record 24 saves 12 blown in 36 chances.
3. Offensive Inconsistency
Enough has been said about Peter Bourjos and Vernon Wells struggles at the plate. As of today both players at bats and playing time will be limited with regulars Mark Trumbo and Mike Trout having taking over their roles. The outfield however was not that bad. Even Wells was having a decent showing before heading to the disabled list. The major area of disappointment has to be the Angels double play combination of Erick Aybar and Howie Kendrick. Both players received contract extensions early in 2012 and both have responded like players comfortable with their contracts.
Both players are in their 28 year old season and should be having the most productive time of their careers. Instead both player are posting OPS under .700. Kendrick is on pace for slugging a meek .376 not what you wanted to see from Kendrick after he belted 30 doubles and 18 homers in 2011. The smaller Aybar is slugging .370 slightly below Kendrick. Both players lack on-base skills that will limit their production even in the best of seasons. With the trade deadline approaching it would seem this is an area where the Angels GM Jerry Dipoto could improve the ballclub, especially in the case ofd Kendrick. A player like Ben Zobrist (.821 OPS 12 HR) would fit the Angels offensive needs while bringing the speed and defensive versatility Mike Scioscia appreciates.
While the season is not over the odds of the Angels coming back to over take Texas becomes harder by the day. Simply put, you cannot win a division in April, but you can lose one.