As it turns out, spending upwards of $300 million in the offseason does not even guarantee you a spot in the postseason nowadays.
This season the Angels have found themselves amidst all of the talks about the “most disappointing team in baseball.”
In December of 2011, owner Arte Moreno and the Angels made the biggest splash of the offseason by acquiring both Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson. Both players signed multi-year deals and the Angels quickly became the favorites to represent the AL West in the playoffs.
Then July came rolling around and the Angels found themselves in third place in the AL West. So they went out and traded for the best pitcher on the market at the time, Zack Greinke. Analysts had a field day talking about the potential of the pitching staff and the potential of this incredible lineup. The Angels appeared unstoppable on paper.
Well, apparently they were stoppable because the Angels are sitting at home this October.
But who is to blame for the Angels’ disappointing season?
Let’s take a look.
Normally a season with 32 home runs and 95 RBI would be regarded as a pretty great year. However, in the case of Mark Trumbo, those numbers are only a sliver of what they could have been.
In the first half of the 2012 season, Mark Trumbo was on fire. He hit .306 with 22 long balls and was selected to both the 2012 American League All Star Team and Home Run Derby.
Things were looking up for Trumbo and the high-powered Angels lineup heading into the break.
After the game, everything changed for Trumbo. His hitting tanked drastically.
The Angels needed Mark Trumbo’s bat to stay hot if they were going to compete for the Wild Card, but he just couldn’t find success at the plate.
In August and September, Trumbo hit an abysmal .196 with 67 strikeouts. He watched his batting average drop from .301 to .266 over that time span, and he couldn’t put together back-to-back multi-hit games.
Sure we can’t put all of the blame on Trumbo—the Oakland A’s and Baltimore Orioles made it nearly impossible for any team to keep up—but we can allude to what could have been had Trumbo continued his excellent first half.
This season, Haren has been anything but extraordinary.
In 30 starts in 2011, Haren went 12-13 with a 4.33 ERA and just 142 strikeouts—his lowest strikeout total since 2004 in St. Louis.
An ailing back injury that landed him on the DL for the first time in his 10-year career may have slowed down Haren’s velocity early in the season, but it never truly came back afterwards.
If Haren were able to pick up some of the slack in the rotation and provide some quality starts towards the beginning of the year, the Angels could possibly be in the postseason right now.
C.J. Wilson was lights out to begin the season. He entered the All Star Game with a 9-5 record and 2.43 ERA.
Since then, Wilson was not able find his rhythm.
His 5.54 ERA and 42 walks ranked him last among the Angels starters in the second half.
Between July 1st and August 23rd, Wilson went through an 11-game stretch in which he did not win a single game.
Those crucial starts were huge in determining positioning in the AL West and solidified that the Halos’ only hopes of reaching the playoffs were through the Wild Card.
The bullpen was another main point of blame for the 2012 season.
In late and close situations—yes that is an actually category—only the Mets and Red Sox had a worse ERA than the Angels did. It’s hard to win a close game when your bullpen can’t keep you in the game when you are behind or keep a lead when you are ahead.
If the Angels had converted on a third of their blown saves, they would have had 96 wins on the season and finished with the best record in the American League.
Outside of Scott Downs and Ernesto Frieri in the first half of the season, not one in the Angels’ bullpen could be counted upon late in games.