If you think there has ever been a player who deserves a deep playoff run more than Mike Trout, than I would like to respectfully decline your response. After years of missing the playoffs with MVP caliber performances, Trout in 2020 will finally be able to perform on a national stage.
Last year Mike Trout won the American League’s Most Valuable Player Award. This was the superstars third of his career and he became the only player ever to place first or second in voting for 7 straight years. Being the undisputed best player in the game, one would think his historic greatness would translate to playoff berths. However, baseball doesn’t work this way. All 25 players need to compete at a high level and one player, no matter how great, can only do so much. This year is different however. The main reason being manager Joe Maddon.
Joe Maddon. Remember that guy? He is the coach of the L.A. Angels now in an acquisition that vastly flew under the radar. Last season the World Series winning coach got fired by the Chicago Cubs in desperation. They had fallen out of contention the last couple years after their first World Series in 108 years. However in response, the executives upstairs fired Joe Madden. I believe this was a mistake because he’s the best coach in baseball and the Angels are more than happy to obtain his services.
At his introductory press conference in October, Maddon stated a lot of things that I really think Angels fans will be happy about. One topic he discussed was emphasizing balance between analytics from the nerds upstairs and talent assessment. This is a combination of methodologies that I believe the last three World Series winners have used. Another point that Maddon really hammered into the audience was the ability of the players to dictate how the club house operates. He explained how he did not want them to be weighed down by rules but rather make their own decisions on right and wrong for the betterment of the team culture. I believe Maddon’s pedigree and managing talent will be the main reason for the Angels tipping the scales in the right direction.
However Mike Trout and Joe Maddon aren’t the only reasons for L.A fans to be optimistic. The return of Shonei Ohtani will be a huge boost for the lineup and Pitching staff. He is an extremely unique talent that will add so much to the 2020 squad if he stays healthy. With Joe Maddon’s careful use of the young Japanese star, I predict he will have his first full season in the MLB. Also in news, the Angels picked up World Series Champion and third baseman Anthony Rendon. He had a marvelous year with the Nationals hitting .319/34/126. With him and Ohtani coming in the picture, they will enter a lineup that already has Mike Trout, Albert Pujols, David Fletcher, and Andrelton Simmons who is poised for a breakout year.
Pitching wise the Angels have a lot to be optimistic about despite a terrible year in 2019. They have picked up multiple relievers in an intentional effort to bolster their bullpen and although the Angels did not pick up a superstar starter, they acquired extremely durable and constient Julio Teheran. He will be a horse and most likely pitch 30+ starts. Last season for the Braves he pitched a solid 3.81 ERA and had a respectable 162 strikeouts. Ohtani will return and there’s a reason to be skeptical but if everything goes right, he will pitch at a very high level. Newly added Dylan Bundy can also boost the staff in a positive way. Add in Andrew Heaney and Griffin Canning and the 2020 pitching staff to this point looks much improved.
I predict the Angels will not only win their division, but also make an ALCS appearance. A bold prediction for a team with questionable pitching, I know. But with the veteran leadership and young prospects that they have, I believe many fans will be pleasantly surprised. With this year being dedicated to the late Tyler Skaggs, the Angels will have a deeper motivation and Mike Trout will finally get that first playoff win.
Photo Credit: LA Times
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