COMMENTARY | The Los Angeles Angels are about 10 games out of first place and almost as far out of a wild-card spot. Their offense has been ordinary and their pitching wishes it could be called ordinary. But I'm telling you right now, they are making the playoffs.
That's right! You heard me (with your eyes). Yes, I mean the Los Angeles Angels. Yes, I mean the 2013 playoffs. No, I am not crazy. Just sit tight and I'll lay it all out for you.
The Texas Rangers are going to win the American League West. That's a given. Their team is so well-built that not even a mediocre manager like Ron Washington can crash that ship. But the Angels don't have to win the division, they just need to have the fourth- or fifth-best record in the American League to make the playoffs.
So far, the Angels are off to a very slow start this season -- continuing last season's disappointing performance. They have a losing record and just really aren't playing that well. But what we're seeing is the Angels at their worst. The world is filled with examples of things that started off poorly and then were huge successes. The television show Seinfeld was almost cancelled a couple times, the band U2 was once just another alternative rock band, and The Shawshank Redemption was a box-office flop.
With the talent this team has in the lineup and the pitching staff, the Angels have everything they need to not only overcome their slow start, but also to push themselves to the front of the line for a playoff spot.
So, here's how this is all going to play out:
This season, the Angels have been in the middle of the road when it comes to scoring runs. But get ready to see this team light up scoreboards like a beer-league softball team in the next few months. They are loaded with hitting talent and can easily be one of the top run-producing teams in the league. The lineup is solid all around and also happens to have three former league MVPs in Josh Hamilton, Albert Pujols and Mike Trout (give it a rest, Miguel Cabrera fans, your old-timey Triple Crown bores me).
This is really where the Angels have been stinking up the joint. With so many pitchers under-performing, they have been hemorrhaging runs and the pitching staff is at or near the bottom in almost every old-school or new-school statistical category. So, this is an easy area of improvement.
Don't get me wrong, this pitching staff is, at best, going to be in the middle of the pack. However, with a combination of some statistical regression and the return of Jered Weaver and his golden locks, it should be able to stop the bleeding.
This isn't just about the Angels improving, but it's also about the quality of their competition in the race for those two wild-card spots. There just aren't that many good teams in the American League this year. Yeah, sure, I guess any one of the Cleveland Indians, Tampa Bay Rays and Baltimore Orioles might also make it to the playoffs, but none of them have the Angels' secret weapon: playing 18 games against the Houston Astros.
The historically terrible Astros got put in the AL West this year and it is sure to be the gift that keeps on giving the whole year -- and for at least a couple more seasons, as well. I can only hope the AL Central teams tried to lobby the Commissioner's Office to prove that the Astros should actually be in their division (Houston is in the Central time zone).
The Oakland Athletics are also in AL West with the Angels. They have a decent team and also get to join in on beating up the Astros. But I think we all know their ride this season ends on Game 162.
Actually, now that I think about it, I don't even need to cite historical precedent, because: A) We're only 50 games into the season, B) There are still over a hundred games to play, and C) A hundred games is a heck of a long time.
You and I could design and build a Red Bull Flugtag flying machine in that time. Even the most casual baseball fan knows about the unpredictability of baseball and that one winning streak can turn things around for a club. Come on, we've all seen the movie Major League.
There are many months of baseball left. Anything can happen. And, of course, I don't know what's going to happen exactly or what will happen in the playoffs. But I do know, for sure, the Angels will be at that dance and they'll be ready to shake their moneymakers with the best of them.
Jed Rigney is a Los Angeles-based award-winning filmmaker who also fancies himself a baseball writer. He is the lead humor columnist at Through The Fence Baseball.
- Sports & Recreation
- Los Angeles Angels
- American League