For those of you hoping this would be the year that the Angels faltered and that somebody else would win the AL West, yesterday was a sad day. The Angels climbed back into their familiar perch after a terrible start and have done it while winning nine of their last ten while the Rangers and Athletics have been scrounging around, both losing six of their last ten.
After watching the Angels do this year after year, you can't help but give props to their manager, Mike Scioscia. If he isn't the best manager in baseball, who is? Every year they clearly break the sabermetric models getting outscored, out pitched, out hit and yet year after year, they end up in first place.
Let's take this year for example. They are tenth out of fourteen AL teams on On Base Percentage. They only have two starting pitchers they can count on. Their bullpen is a complete mess. And here they are in first place. They have been outscored at home and still have a 16-13 record there.
The big key for the Angels is that they hang in there and they do well within their own division. They are 12-6 against AL opponents and that certainly makes up the difference. The only good teams they have beat are the Blue Jays, but they beat up on bad teams.
Simply put, they are amazing. They are 12th in the league in fielding percentage, they have a team negative number for fielding efficiency, they can't throw out base stealers, their infield has featured three guys with OPS+ figures of 80, 81 and 2 (!), and here they are in first place.
The Angels do hit homers. They are fourth in the league in homers and fourth in the league in doubles. Both of their catchers are hitting really well and Torii Hunter is having another really good year. And let's not forget, they have won nine of ten AFTER losing Kendry Morales.
Gnash your teeth if you must, but until the AL West can muster up a team that can win consistently, these Angels just won't go away.