Over the next few weeks, we’ll be taking you through all 30 MLB teams, discussing their positives and negatives from the year that was. Regardless of how lopsided it may get, we will stay the course and ultimately determine whether or not their 2015 efforts resulted in a successful season.
Some teams are identified by their best player. Others have an iconic manager. Some have owners who are over the top. Some have a combination of these. Others, like the Angels, have all three.
For former GM Jerry Dipoto, this presented a problem. Dipoto’s success could be seen through the play of the Mike Trout All Stars aka the Angels. But even the best player can’t solve all problems. Beginning with the Josh Hamilton debacle in the spring and ending with Dipoto’s resignation, owner Arte Moreno and manager Mike Scioscia formed an obstacle to be overcome rather than partners in an endeavor to win a championship.
Every play Hamilton makes on Moreno’s dime until the end of his deal can come back to haunt the team. In a way, it is the worst contract in baseball: a division rival getting a potentially well above average player at another team’s expense.
— Joseph Arnold (@CoachArnold11) October 2, 2015
It’s possible that Mike Trout has been the best player in the American League since he came up to the majors for good. Huge and controversial efforts by Miguel Cabrera delayed Trout’s first MVP award and this year he might lose out to Josh Donaldson, who was no slouch himself. The centerfielder was excellent once again: .299/.402/.590 with 41 homers, 32 doubles, and he still chipped in 11 steals. That’s a 9.4 bWAR season. He led the league in slugging. And he’s a still just 24.
Albert Pujols had something of a bounce-back season, launching 40 home runs but a line of .244/.307/.480 isn’t the Pujols of old. Until he joined the Angels, his career OBP was .420—and it’s dropped every year since 2008—when it was an absurd .462. There are still six years remaining on his deal.
Kole Calhoun was something of a revelation in his second full season, launching 26 home runs and batting either first or second in the majority of his games.
Chris Iannetta, Carlos Perez, Matt Joyce, and Erick Aybar all posted a sub-.650 OPS. Johnny Giavotella was a little better at .694 while batting .272/.318/.375—although Howie Kendrick hit .295/.336/.409 for the crosstown Dodgers. Andrew Heaney, a 24-year-old southpaw did help bring youth to the rotation, but on a one-year scale, Kendrick wasn’t truly replaced and might not be for 2016.
The Angels didn’t really have an ace, but they also didn’t have any truly bad starters. Garrett Richards, Hector Santiago, Andrew Heaney, and C.J. Wilson were worth 1.8, 1.8, 1.7, and 1.2 bWAR respectively. Their ERAs were between 3.49 and 3.89, although Santiago’s FIP was 4.77 – 1.18 higher than his ERA.
Matt Shoemaker and Jered Weaver struggled a bit with ERAs of 4.46 and 4.64. Weaver struck out just 13.5% of batters in 2015, a new low even for him. Weaver’s strikeout rate peaked at 25.8% in 2010 and in his career it sits at 19.7%. His walk rate was also a new low – 4.9% so Weaver is entering a new place in terms of strikeouts and walks. Is it something he can keep up?
Closer Huston Street hit the 40-save threshold for the second time in his career and had a 3.18 ERA against a 3.73 FIP. He’s 32 years old and signed for two more years, having been consistently good during his career.
Mat Latos was around for 3.2 innings after being released by the Dodgers. He was fine with the Marlins, a mess for the Dodgers, and showed up for a couple meaningless appearances before hitting free agency. It was a strange transaction to acquire a player on September 28. That alone will probably make him the answer to trivia questions not about his pet (Cat Latos).
Was it a successful season?
The Angels traded experience in Kendrick for young pitching in Heaney but were really built for winning sooner than later. Sending Hamilton out of town became a circus and the team acquired David Murphy and Shane Victorino to try and make up for that loss, without much success.
New GM Billy Eppler will have his work cut out for him. There’s good stuff there—with Mike Trout around for the next few years, that’s a cornerstone any team would like to build around but he needs help.
Statistics courtesy of Baseball Reference and Fangraphs