Considering the Angels are tied for the MLB-lead in wins and boast the highest winning percentage in the majors, it's hard to believe the hottest team in baseball will get even hotter.
But with the trade-deadline acquisition of Mark Teixeira (batting .386 over the last 30 days) as well as the strong pitching of starters Joe Saunders (14-5, 3.07 ERA) and Ervin Santana (13-5, 3.49 ERA), the Halos are poised to make a run for the World Series, and the team may get hot enough to win the title. Here are three reasons why the best is yet to come undone for the Angels.
1. Solid Pitching
The Angels have one of the best rotations in the majors from a statistical standpoint. Three of their five starting pitchers have a sub-3.50 ERA (Saunders, Santana, and John Lackey), and no pitcher who's started more than six games has an ERA over 4.50 (Jered Weaver has the highest ERA of all the regulars with a 4.47 mark).
The weak link in the rotation, if any starter were to falter, would be Jon Garland. His WHIP (walks and hits per inning pitched) is tops among the rotation at 1.44, and, if he remains so hittable, his ERA will balloon down the stretch. Garland also boasts an opposition average of .293, which is very weak compared to not just other Angels pitchers, but pitchers throughout the entire league. At the other end of the spectrum, Lackey, Santana, and Saunders all have a WHIP of 1.17 or lower, plus a batting average against of .242 or lower, both of which are more respectable numbers.
In the bullpen, most pitchers have been consistent with the exception of Justin Speier (5.15 ERA, 11 HR allowed), and Fransisco Rodriguez has been one of the most consistent closers in the league with 46 saves in 51 chances (good for a .901 save percentage).
2. Lack of pressure
Despite having the highest winning percentage in the majors, most baseball viewers are focused on the tight pennant races: the NL East, the AL Central, and pretty much every division except the AL West. The Angels are basically shoo-ins for the AL West pennant, as no other team in their division has a winning percentage over .500. The lack of media attention will allow them to get on a roll without as much added pressure as the tight pennant races elsewhere. And once this team gets on a roll, it won't be easy to stop.
3. Positional Depth
While most teams are lucky to get three good outfielders, the Angels have four of them (though some may argue Gary Matthews Jr. isn't adequate anymore). Outfielders Torii Hunter, Vladimir Guerrero, and Garret Anderson are proven stars in the majors, and having an adequate backup helps to keep their legs fresh. Ditto for the infield, who only benefit from having extra infielder Mark Teixeira come in, and catcher, with Mathis and Napoli splitting time. Some may argue that catcher is a weak spot, but a tired catcher is much less effective defensively than a fresh one, and platooning catchers helps to keep both fresh.
So there you have it, three reasons why the Angels will wreak havoc come this postseason.