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Los Angeles Angels 2022: Scouting, Projected Lineup, Season Prediction

Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani, Los Angeles Angels

The Angels hope a healthy Mike Trout combined with reigning AL MVP Shohei Ohtani will lead to a playoff berth

The Los Angeles Angels were bit players in a once-in-a-lifetime show last season, providing the backdrop for Shohei Ohtani's historic two-way performance. The unanimous AL MVP in 2021, Ohtani finished third in the AL with 46 home runs (many of the moon-shot variety) and second in OPS (.965), and his at-bats were must-see viewing. At the same time, he started 23 games as a pitcher, going 9–2 with a 3.18 ERA while striking out 156 in 130.1 innings. "Shohei's season was nothing short of electric," says teammate Mike Trout, reduced to spectator for much of the season due to a calf injury. "At times, I felt like I was back in Little League."

The Angels as a whole, however, were far from electric. Despite Ohtani's dynamic contributions, it was another in a lengthening string of mediocre seasons in Anaheim, as another season of Trout's prime passed without signs of progress towards contention. The Angels haven't finished with a winning record since 2015 and have made the playoffs only once (for all of three games) during Trout's career (2014). They have finished fourth in the five-team AL West five times in the past six years. They have also cycled through three managers (Mike Scioscia, Brad Ausmus and Joe Maddon) and three GMs (Jerry Dipoto, Billy Eppler and Perry Minasian) since that last playoff appearance.

Opposing Scouts Size Up the Angels

Los Angeles Angels logo

"It's hard to have much faith in a team with this kind of pitching, even with Shohei Ohtani. As great as he is, what's the upper limit on starts he can make, 28? Same with Noah Syndergaard — I can't trust him to take the ball 31, 32 times and be healthy all the way through. Maybe they'll cobble together enough depth to spread the innings around, but the only other starter I really have as being above average is Patrick Sandoval. The bullpen is solid, but there's not a whole lot to get excited about with the lineup. They need Jo Adell to establish himself this year — he played with a lot more confidence at the end of the season after tearing it up in Triple-A — but for now that's still a big question mark. David Fletcher has to draw a lot more walks to have much value. And the biggest question, for me, is Anthony Rendon. They signed him to that mega-deal, but his body language is so poor that you wonder how well he's going to age. With five years left on that deal, he's got to find it for the Angels to have a chance."

Beyond the Box Score

Shotime Shohei Ohtani is scheduled to make $5.5 million in 2022, the final season of the four-year contract he originally signed with the Angels, which included $8.5 million for 2021-22. He will be eligible for salary arbitration in 2023 and then could then become a free agent following that season. There is speculation about the Angels' ability to sign him to a contract extension if they don't show signs of moving towards contention. "I really like the team. I love the fans and the atmosphere as a team," Ohtani said through an interpreter as the 2021 season drew to a close. "But more than that, I want to win. That's the biggest thing for me. I'll leave it at that."

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History in the making Ohtani received the Commissioner's Historic Achievement Award for his two-way play in 2021. The award was created by Bud Selig in 1998 to recognize the achievements of Cal Ripken Jr. (for his streak of 2,632 games played) and Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa (for their historic home run race) and has been given out to only 16 individuals.

No Rodriguez Righthander Chris Rodriguez made the Angels' Opening Day roster in 2021 despite not having pitched above Single-A before his MLB debut. The Angels' fourth-round draft pick in 2016 had been stalled in the minors with persistent back problems that required surgery. But he went 2–1 with a 3.64 ERA in 15 games (two starts) as a rookie and figured into the Angels' pitching plans for 2022, possibly in the starting rotation. Then Rodriguez underwent shoulder surgery following the season and will likely miss all of 2022.

Hitting reset The Angels changed scouting directors during the offseason, dismissing Matt Swanson and replacing him with Tim McIlvaine. McIlvaine, 40, is the son of former Padres and Mets GM Joe McIlvaine. Tim McIlvaine played one season in the Twins organization before going into scouting with the Milwaukee Brewers, where he worked with current Angels assistant GM Ray Montgomery.

Mind games Longtime big-league pitcher Chris Carpenter has joined the Angels organization and will work with minor league pitchers, focusing on the mental part of the game. Carpenter spent 15 years in the majors, going 144–94 with the Toronto Blue Jays and St. Louis Cardinals and winning the 2005 National League Cy Young Award. After retiring following the 2012 season, Carpenter worked in the Cardinals organization, but his job was cut during the pandemic season of 2020.

Projected Lineup

LINEUP

2B    David Fletcher (R)
CF    Mike Trout (R)
DH   Shohei Ohtani (L)
3B    Anthony Rendon (R)
1B    Jared Walsh (L)
LF    Justin Upton (R)
RF    Jo Adell (R)
C     Max Stassi (R)
SS    Luis Rengifo (S)

BENCH

C     Kurt Suzuki (R)
UT   Tyler Wade (L)
IF     Andrew Velazquez (S)
OF   Brandon Marsh (L)
IF     Jack Mayfield (R)

ROTATION

RHP    Noah Syndergaard
RHP    Shohei Ohtani
LHP    Patrick Sandoval
RHP    Michael Lorenzen
LHP    José Suarez
RHP    Jaime Barria

BULLPEN

RHP    Raisel Iglesias (C)
LHP    Aaron Loup
RHP    Ryan Tepera
RHP    Mike Mayers
RHP    Austin Warren
RHP    Jimmy Herget
LHP    José Quijada

2022 Prediction: 2nd in AL West