The Los Angeles Angels are fighting for a playoff spot in a scenario that was hard to envision at the beginning of the season given the team's stacked roster.
But as San Diego Chargers general manager and every athlete ever has said, "It is what it is." So the Angels will press forward and compete for the American League Wild Card. Here are 10 reasons why they will succeed in their quest to make the playoffs in 2012:
When the Angels' front office assembled one of the best staffs in baseball, it was with this time of year and these scenarios in mind. The team's strength—although it hasn't been one of late—is it's pitching. The Halos have the talent on the mound to beat anyone. They just need to believe in their ability and go after hitters like they know they can.
Behind that pitching is a sharp defense that will need to pick up the pitchers when they make mistakes. Mike Trout is roaming around center field and has the ability to change the complexion of a game with a spectacular play. They are tops in the league in defensive runs saved, a statistic that measures a defense's effectiveness.
3. Staying the Course
It's a boring sports cliche, but the Angels will have to take things game by game in order to overcome the two-game deficit they trail the Oakland Athletics in the AL Wild Card. If they get ahead of themselves and begin to look at only the big picture, then it could spell trouble and a missed postseason.
4. A's Tough Schedule
The A's are the Halos' biggest obstacle right now, but thanks to six out of the last nine games they play being against the powerful Texas Rangers, it's likely the Angels will have an opportunity to gain ground. Monday's walk-off win in Texas could snowball into a string of wins for Texas, and that could mean trouble for Oakland.
5. Expanded Playoffs
It didn't appear as if the talented Angels would need a break, but that's precisely what the newly-expanded playoff will bring should the Angels overcome the odds and get into the postseason. Once they're in, they can make some noise with their talented group.
6. Mike Scioscia
There may be some clamoring for manager Mike Scioscia to lose his job, but Major League Baseball's longest tenured manager does not deserve to be fired. In fact, it will be his experience and leadership that will give the Angels a fighting chance to overcome the odds and move into the postseason.
All season long, Scioscia has kept his cool and has not panicked despite dealing with adversity in almost every facet of the game. His quiet leadership is exactly what his team needs with the stakes at their highest.
If the Angels are going to have any success late in the year and perhaps beyond, it will be behind the bats of the players that got them there, Trout and Mark Trumbo.
It was Trout who may have single-handedly saved the season after emerging as a run-producing machine since being called up in April. Now a legitimate AL MVP candidate, it's largely due to the 21-year-old that the Angels have emerged from the cellar and into contention.
Trumbo, an Anaheim native, has had a terrific year and has been his team's power generator. He'll need to find some more pop as the Angels claw their way into the postseason.
The Angels' most noted player didn't sign a $240 million contract for nothing. The slugger overcame a horrific slump to begin the year to produce like he's capable of.
That means trouble for opposing pitchers down the stretch and good news for the Halos. He will need to be at his best for the team to make a run.
9. Remaining Schedule
The Angels play the lowly Mariners six times in their last nine games. If there's going to be a string of wins to end the season, those will be the two series to do it in. A trip out to Texas is sandwiched in between the two Mariners series, so the AL Wild Card will literally go through Arlington to end the year.
The Angels, like their fans, have to believe in their ability to overcome the odds and make the postseason. It won't take divine intervention, but it will involve a lot of mistake-free, solid baseball.
The Angels have it in them, and they know what's at stake. They've managed to overcome struggles to arrive at this point, and they know they can rattle off consecutive wins after experiencing an eight-game streak earlier in the year.
Once they do make the playoffs, they will enter a whole new season where anything is possible. That's an attractive prospect to a team fighting for its postseason life.
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