2022 Season Review: Los Angeles Angels

Check out my 2022 Season Preview Article for the Angels here.

Image: Getty Images

2022 Record: 73-89 (.451 win%, 3rd in Division)

2022 Payroll: $192,890,060 (10th)

2022 Lineup:

1. 2B Luis Rengifo, .264 AVG/.294 OBP/.429 SLG, 1.6 fWAR

2. OF Mike Trout, .283 AVG/.369 OBP/.630 SLG, 6.0 fWAR

3. DH Shohei Ohtani, .273 AVG/.356 OBP/.519 SLG, 3.8 fWAR

4. OF Taylor Ward, .281 AVG/.360 OBP/.473 SLG, 3.8 fWAR 

5. 3B Anthony Rendon, .229 AVG/.326 OBP/.380 SLG, 0.8 fWAR

6. 1B Jared Walsh, .215 AVG/.269 OBP/.374 SLG, -0.6 fWAR

7. OF Jo Adell, .224 AVG/.264 OBP/.373 SLG, -0.3 fWAR

8. C Max Stassi, .180 AVG/.267 OBP/.303 SLG, 0.0 fWAR

9. SS Andrew Velazquez, .196 AVG/.236 OBP/.304 SLG, 0.3 fWAR

Traded Away: 

OF Brandon Marsh, .245 AVG/.295 OBP/.384 SLG, 1.7 fWAR (Combined stats)

2022 Rotation:

1. Shohei Ohtani, 166.0 IP/2.33 ERA/1.01 WHIP, 5.6 fWAR

2. Patrick Sandoval, 148.2 IP/2.91 ERA/1.21 WHIP, 3.8 fWAR

3. Michael Lorenzen, 97.2 IP/4.24 ERA/1.28 WHIP, 1.0 fWAR

4. Jose Suarez, 109.0 IP/3.96 ERA/1.25 WHIP, 1.6 fWAR

5. Reid Detmers, 129.0 IP/3.77 ERA/1.21 WHIP, 2.3 fWAR

6. Tucker Davidson, 52.0 IP/6.75 ERA/1.71 WHIP, -0.4 fWAR

Traded Away: 

Noah Syndergaard, 134.2 IP/3.94 ERA/1.25 WHIP, 2.2 fWAR (Combined stats)

2022 Top 4 Relievers:

1. Jimmy Herget, 69.0 IP/2.48 ERA/0.91 WHIP, 1.6 fWAR

2. Aaron Loup, 58.2 IP/3.84 ERA/1.30 WHIP, 0.4 fWAR

3. Ryan Tepera, 57.1 IP/3.61 ERA/1.08 WHIP, 0.1 fWAR

4. Jaime Barria, 79.1 IP/2.61 ERA/1.03 WHIP, 0.1 fWAR

Traded Away:

Raisel Iglesias, 62.0 IP/2.47 ERA/0.97 WHIP, 1.6 fWAR (Combined stats)

Regular Season Recap:

I feel bad for Angels fans, I really do. This season demonstrates once again that there are systematic issues persistent throughout all levels of the organization. Sure, many of the players are at least somewhat responsible for this historic implosion, but the root causes lie so much deeper than the team roster. 

For starters, the Angels are now on their third manager since Mike Scioscia left after 2018. Phil Nevin will now look to right the ship in 2023. His interim status was officially removed when he signed a one-year contract, which was just announced near the end of the regular season. 

To make matters worse, the current owner, Arte Moreno, is officially exploring whether to sell the team. A new incoming owner could lead to increased employee turnover, which makes a pressing issue even worse. And depending on whoever the buyer is, their own unique strategy may involve major differences in payroll spending. However, maybe a fresh face and a different style of leader is exactly what this organization needs right now.

The most concerning aspect of the organization remains with the farm system. MLB now ranks the Angels dead last in their farm system rankings, and the only player on their “Top 100 Prospects” is Logan O’Hoppe. He was acquired in the trade that sent Brandon Marsh to the Phillies, which means that the Angels’ farm system has currently produced zero players on this list. In recent years, the front office has also had very limited success in their player acquisition efforts from Latin American areas. There is no doubt that poor international scouting, draft busts, and lack of player development has led to the Angels’ lack of depth, in terms of both the starters and role players coming off the bench.

The regular season in 2022 can be split into two very unequal portions. Through the first 44 games, the Halos were hot with a 27-17 record. Optimism was high and the probability of making the playoffs certainly appeared within reach. Then, they proceeded to lose their next 14 games in a row. Joe Maddon was fired, and the Angels continued to play sub-par baseball. Dreams about the playoffs were essentially squashed by the all-star break as they plummeted to a 39-53 record. The rest of the season was relatively uneventful aside from the continued dominance by Shohei Ohtani and Mike Trout. Unfortunately, baseball fans all across the world got to go yet another year without seeing these stars in the playoffs.

Shohei Ohtani had one of the best single-season performances ever by a MLB player, and it is a true shame that he is not receiving more national attention. Obviously, Aaron Judge is taking up much of the media shine with a historic season of his own, but Ohtani still deserves better in my opinion. Judge being part of a solid Yankees squad with the opportunity to contribute to meaningful games throughout the year supported his case for AL MVP much more compared to Ohtani and the struggling Angels. The American League single-season home run leader will probably be crowned the winner, but personally, I think the race should be a lot closer than what the media is depicting. Both of these players deserve to win the award, and both easily would have done so if it was an ordinary year.

The game of baseball received a scare in July when it was reported that Mike Trout was diagnosed with a rare back condition. He missed an extended period of time, and it will be interesting to see how he is affected in the long term. His 2022 final statline would indicate no such lack of production or efficiency. He finished with a slash line of .283/.369/.630, while also accumulating the third season of his career with 40+ homers. According to Baseball Savant, he was in the 99th percentile out of all MLB players for barrel percentage. In fact, both Trout and Ohtani finished in the top six out of all MLB players in barrels per plate appearance percentage.

The bullpen was a major concern for the Angels in 2022. As a unit, their combined FIP was fourth worst in the MLB at 4.31. They also had an abysmal opponent HR/9 of 1.23, which was only better than the Brewers and Cubs. Jimmy Herget was arguably the best reliever out of the bunch, concluding the season with a solid 2.87 FIP over 66.0 IP. His fWAR of 1.6 was more than triple compared to any other bullpen arm (excluding Iglesias).

The team roster had bright spots, but also major holes. Unfortunately, this is an issue that has become quite prevalent for the Angels in recent years. Injuries were also an issue of course, but a sufficient amount of roster depth could have potentially combatted an issue like this. Not to mention the Angels had the worst strikeout percentage out of any team at a staggering 25.7%. Combined with a team walk rate of 7.5%, it is not surprising their team OBP was only .297.

M-SABR Predicted Record (82-80) vs. Actual (73-89):

In all honesty, I would argue that my season preview analysis was decently accurate compared to reality. My statement that it could be “reasonably concluded that another disappointing season is on the horizon” ultimately came true. I think the majority of people would have predicted this outcome before the year began though. Although nobody can ever predict injuries throughout the course of a season, lack of depth was a major concern that I emphasized before Opening Day.

I will admit that I was not entirely accurate with all my predictions. Starting pitching was better than I anticipated, which I provide elaboration for in the section below. The production from the bullpen, however, fell short of my expectations. Although the unit was better than the 2021 season, this remained as a major disappointment for the Angels.

Surprise of the Season:

Before the year, I claimed that there were “not really any secure options outside of Ohtani on the mound”. I was pleasantly surprised to be proven wrong, at least on the starting pitching side. The Angels were ranked in sixth place overall in both ERA and total fWAR in the regular season for team starting pitching. Ohtani was still the primary reason for this success, but others including Patrick Sandoval, Jose Suarez, and Reid Detmers all finished with sub-4.00 FIP’s. Even Noah Syndergaard had a decent bounce back year, producing a 3.83 ERA over the 15 games that he started for the Angels before being traded away at the deadline.

Patrick Sandoval was especially impressive while taking on 148.2 IP, which came as second most only behind Ohtani. The lefted-handed pitcher’s 2.91 ERA and 0.48 HR/9 sits as the best from his now four year career. Significantly increasing the usage of his slider appears to have caused much of this success. Baseball Savant reports that he threw it 29.0% of the time, compared to only 17.2% in 2021. As a result, this pitch yielded a dominant opponent xwOBA of .261, which was the best out of his arsenal.

Players We Watched: 

In my 2022 season preview article, I mentioned that Shohei Ohtani, Jo Adell, and Reid Detmers were all “players to watch”. I considered all of these players to be x-factors, who could potentially act as indicators towards team success albeit at varying levels of importance. (It should also be noted that I considered Mike Trout as an obvious “player to watch” before the season began. Due to the consistency he’s shown throughout his career, however, I did not feel the need to list him under this section.)

Shohei Ohtani deserves to be appreciated more, especially with the statline he was able to produce in 2022. Behind Aaron Judge’s ridiculous total fWAR of 11.4 which leads all of MLB, Ohtani finished in an easy second place with a score of 9.5. As I stated in my season preview article, what I find most impressive about Ohtani is his physical endurance. He was an absolute workhorse this season, starting 28 different games on the mound for a total of 166.0 IP, while also being in the batting lineup at some point for 157/162 games. In fact, in the final game of the regular season, Ohtani was able to qualify for leaderboards as both a pitcher and a hitter. In the World Series era, this has never been done before in a single season until now. It is honestly unbelievable that he did not sustain any serious injury as a result of this absurd daily usage. 

At the plate, Ohtani’s slash line consisted of .273 AVG/.356 OBP/.519 SLG with 34 homers and 95 runs batted in. His wRC+ was 142 (compared to 151 in his 2021 AL MVP year), indicating continued dominance albeit a slight regression. On the mound, Ohtani took a nice leap forward. He had the third best FIP out of all MLB players at 2.40, compared to his 3.52 in 2021. He also had the second best K/9 at 11.87 out of all MLB pitchers, only barely trailing Carlos Rodon. Overall, he had the sixth best fWAR out of all MLB pitchers at 5.6, which is 2.6 higher than his 2021 season.

Reid Detmers exceeded my expectations this season. On May 10th, 2022, the southpaw threw his first no-hitter at only 22 years old against the Tampa Bay Rays. The most recent Angels no-hitter before this was in 2019, when Taylor Cole and Felix Pena completed the combined no-no. Looking even further back, Jered Weaver’s no-hitter in 2012 marked the last time a single pitcher went the full distance before Detmer’s. Definitely the highlight of his young career, this was also one of the best moments of the season for the Angels. 

In Detmers’ first full season as a starter for the squad, he proved that he could carry much of the pitching load. He started 25 games, accumulating 129.0 IP in total. A 3.79 FIP is not too shabby over this span. However, many of his statistics fell in the range of average to below average. Baseball Savant did not mark him above the 50th percentile in any of their 2022 MLB Percentile Rankings. Probably the most concerning statistics out of the bunch were the opponent Average Exit Velocity and Barrel %, in which he was only in the 28th and 36th percentiles, respectively. Despite this, I am still willing to buy into this youngster, and I expect him to take on an even larger role with the Angels in 2023.

Jo Adell played 40 games with Triple-A affiliate Salt Lake Bees, while appearing in 88 games with the Angels. Unfortunately, my perspective about Adell has not changed from my season preview. There is no denying his raw talent, but nevertheless, his skills remain relatively unrefined. His xwOBA was a concerning .251, which would have been dead last if he was eligible to be listed as a qualified hitter. An alarming BB% of only 3.9% combined with a K% of 37.5% is not a great recipe for success at all. For reference, the worst K% out of all qualified hitters was 3.3%, which actually happened to be Luis Rengifo. For BB%, Patrick Wisdom held the worst at 34.3%, which means Adell would have been dead last in this category as well. I truly wish for Jo Adell to succeed at the MLB level, but he must reevaluate his approach at the plate in some capacity or these issues will continue to persist.

Offseason Outlook:

In terms of financial spending, they were tenth in total payroll in 2022. There are no excuses to not make the playoffs at this point in time, and everybody knows that. Similar to the offseason last year, I still believe that the Angels organization needs to figure out what direction they are taking this team. 

Either they sell the house when Trout and Ohtani’s market values are elevated, or they go all in right here and now. After all, the door is closing fast as this duo is not getting any younger. Trout’s health is concerning and the physical demand that Ohtani has to endure for each season will eventually reveal itself in some form. This means that regression could occur sooner rather than later, although I hate to admit it. (Also, something to remember is that Trout does have a full no-trade clause in his mega-contract, but I would have to imagine that he may waive it as long as he was traded away to a contender where the situation made sense for him.)

Truly, I still just want to see Trout and Ohtani playing in the playoffs together. I’m personally hoping (against my better judgment) that the Angels front office attempts at least one more legit shot for a playoff run. They must put all bets on the table here, although this does not mean shelling out more money just for the sake of it. The Angels have done plenty of that in the past, and many of their signings have not panned out. The focus must be on creating a team that is much more well-rounded, and with better depth too. Signing players that are durable with less of an injury history must be a priority. 

As a start, the Angels would then need to upgrade their bullpen. Aroldis Chapman, Edwin Diaz, Kenley Jensen, and many other quality names become free agents at the end of the 2022 season. Signing somebody of this caliber would immediately elevate pitching effectiveness, and would also bring forth much needed playoff experience to a team that has very little overall. 

I would also support the decision to sign an all-star catcher, shortstop and/or first baseman as well. Trea Turner and Wilson Contreras being free agents this off-season presents a massive opportunity for the Angels. Jose Abreu and Josh Bell could also be interesting targets to go after if the market prices are not too inflated. I believe the Angels can reach postseason play, but they have to do more than what they are currently doing if they want to be serious about it. If they overestimate their roster strength again, then they will essentially be wasting two of the best talents the game of baseball has ever seen.

If I was a betting man though, I believe the decision makers should (and eventually will) resort to a rebuild much like how the Nationals shipped off Juan Soto this past year. This is probably the better option honestly, considering how many star prospects they could receive for Trout and Ohtani. I would not be surprised if someone like Anthony Rendon, who has only played in 105 games in the past two seasons, is traded away before the 2023 deadline. Especially if Rendon’s market value returns somewhat next year, getting portions of his mega-contract (7 years/$245 million) off the books may be ideal. Plus, it could be another opportunity to add some more prospects.

The Angels hold the power to entirely revamp their entire franchise with a few monumental moves, and doing so may initiate a whole new approach in Los Angeles for the future years to come. A completely new team roster could be formulated from scratch, ideally with more depth and less gaping holes. However, if these acquired players were to not pan out, it would certainly send the Angels into an indefinite rebuild. Thus, the front office must be sure that the player haul they receive would be worth giving away two potential Hall of Famers. There will be little hope in sight for the Angels if not.

Something to Watch:

I am most interested to see if any of the trade deadline deals will pay off for the Angels. Tucker Davidson was acquired from the Braves for Raisel Iglesias. In return for Noah Syndergaard, the Angels got former Phillies’ OF Mickey Moniak and Single A outfielder Jadiel Sanchez. The Angels also gave up 24-year-old Brandon Marsh, and ended up receiving who was previously the Phillies’ third best prospect (per MLB), Logan O’Hoppe. All of these new additions got to play at least in some capacity this year with the Angels. In terms of discovering what each of their roles will be like for the foreseeable future, next season should provide an even larger sample size to evaluate.

Logan O’Hoppe, who is just 22 years old, could be the much needed answer at the catcher position. O’Hoppe does bring some high-powered offense to the plate. In Double A this past year, he hit for a combined 26 homers. If the Angels do not spend big money on a catcher this offseason, I will assume that O’Hoppe could get increasingly more reps over Stassi once the youngster becomes acclimated to the big leagues.

Categories: 2022 Season Review, Articles, Post-COVID

Tags: ,

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: