One of the biggest mysteries in the MLB is how the Los Angeles Angels can be so bad while two of the greatest players in history are under contract. The Angels have a winning record as of today at 29-26 but remain in third place in a busy AL West. Much like the AL East, just having a record over .500 isn’t going to cut it.
Los Angeles continues to be a hard team to read, with flashes of brilliance in certain series before falling flat in others.
The talent is there to compete for a playoff berth, but they continue to underperform and stumble at the worst times. After getting swept by the Miami Marlins over the weekend, it’s hard to imagine the Halos remaining consistent enough to win the 90+ games needed to slide into the playoffs.
If the Angels fail to make the playoffs, megastar Shohei Ohtani is almost guaranteed to leave in the offseason. If he does, how long will Mike Trout stick around before requesting a trade to a contender?
This is a franchise-defining season for LA, and things aren’t going great.
Ohtani Struggling for First Time
One of the biggest reasons the Angels are struggling in 2023 is the exact reason they were expected to succeed. Two-way megastar Ohtani is struggling both on the mound and at the plate.
While Ohtani has gone through slumps before, he has never been so ineffective on both sides of the ball simultaneously.
To be clear, Ohtani is still putting up good numbers in many key areas, such as leading the AL with 90 strikeouts. But his ERA in May is 4.06, and he’s recorded just one winning decision in his previous six starts. He’s pitching better than most but not up to par for a player of his caliber.
At the plate, Shotime is hitting just .229 in 96 at-bats this month with 27 strikeouts and 12 walks. His season-long average is .263, which would be his worst mark for an entire season in his six-year career.
Our top pitching prospect in baseball just struck out the one and only Shohei Ohtani…
— Just Baseball (@JustBB_Media) May 28, 2023
I’m not suggesting Ohtani is a bad fit or anything but an all-time great. Even the best have slumped, and Ohtani’s is coming at the worst possible time for him and the Angels franchise.
Angels Losing With More Depth Than Years Past
Ohtani’s slumping during May overshadowed a strong month for the rest of this team. After years of Trout and Ohtani being the only two contributing players, the Halos built up some quality depth in the offseason.
Hunter Renfroe, Gio Urshela, and Brandon Drury were acquired during the offseason, and all have positively impacted the Angels so far. Urshela, in particular, is raking at the plate with a .310 batting average. Not only does that lead the Halos, but it ranks Urshela in the top 10 in the MLB.
The Angels no longer have “automatic out” at-bats and build a quality lineup around Trout and Ohtani.
While the new players are nice, the issue is with players who were good in 2022 playing like garbage in 2023.
This moment ruined him. R.I.P. Taylor Ward we had some fun. pic.twitter.com/0zKqVQfvJv
— Retire_Salmons15 (@Js4424) May 28, 2023
Outfielder Taylor Ward is a prime example of an Angels’ player who fell off big time this season. Ward hit .281 last season with 23 home runs and a 3.8 WAR in 135 games. The Angels viewed him as a significant piece of the puzzle for 2023. But Ward is hitting just .220 through 51 games, with four home runs and a -0.2 WAR.