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Small Reasons for Optimism


On the front end, I’ll say that I don’t expect the Angels to have some miraculous season that ends in a playoff appearance. But there are a few reasons we might see a better overall performance in 2024, even without Ohtani.

1. Moving back to a standard 5-man rotation. I can’t stop thinking about this tweet from Beyond the Halo. Every pitcher was noticeably better on five days rest than six days:

A regular pitching schedule should help these four + Silseth. On top of that, they’ll get extra starts from guys like Detmers and Sandoval instead of fringe Four-A guys and bullpen openers.

2. Ron Washington should be a MASSIVE upgrade over Phil Nevin. Wash is a great motivator and leader, but he’s also a COACH first and foremost. Guys liked Nevin, but he was clearly a rookie manager who failed in many regards. We’ll see how some of the new assistant coaches work (especially hitting and pitching coaches), but Wash feels like a good guy to get things on track.

3. The Angels were killed by injuries last season. Here’s each key returning hitter and their games played in 2023:

O’Hoppe: 51

Schanuel: 29 (late call-up)

Drury: 125

Neto: 84

Rendon: 43

Ward: 97

Trout: 82

Moniak: 85

Rengifo: 126

Adell: 17

Thaiss: 95

Drury and Rengifo were the only returning players with 100+ games and both still missed 30+ for one reason or another. I’d be floored if nine of their top 11 hitters miss over 40% of the season again.

4. Ohtani was their best hitter and pitcher. His production will be missed. But there might be some internal relief in the clubhouse now that every loss won’t be followed by “You’re failing Ohtani! He’s going to leave!”. Their media coverage will drop like 90%, but so will any pressure and expectations.

It’s hard to be optimistic, trust me. And with Arte around “for the long run,” who knows when they’ll make the playoffs again. But I wouldn’t be shocked if they’re closer to 80 wins than 70 based on these factors.

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