For fans, it’s a season and a month late, but it looks like the Los Angeles Angels may have finally turned the corner.
After missing the playoffs last year, and stumbling to a 9-17 start in April, the Angels look to have righted the ship, compiling an 11-10 record so far in May.
Having won five straight games heading into this weekend’s series in Kansas City, L.A. seems to have picked up some much needed confidence along the way.
They’ve been led by 22-year-old dynamo outfielder Mike Trout. Behind his explosive bat, which helped him become the youngest AL player ever to hit for the cycle earlier this week, the team is finally starting to put up the kind of run production that was expected out of their All-Star laden lineup. L.A. has averages a whopping 8.4 runs during this little stretch.
Trout unbelievably is on pace to rival the ridiculous numbers he put up as a rookie last season, despite getting off to a somewhat slow start. Last year he hit .326 with 30 homers, 83 RBIs, 129 runs scored and 49 steals. Through the first quarter of this season he has bumped his average up from .252 to .298 and already has nine homers, 34 RBIs, 31 runs scored and nine stolen bases.
Pitching had been the Angels’ most glaring weakness in April, but has steadily improved during May. And the team could get Jered Weaver back to anchor an improving rotation as early as Monday. Meanwhile reliever Ryan Madson is working his way back from Tommy John surgery and is already rehabbing at the Single-A level. His return, which could come sometime in June, would be a boon to a bullpen that desperately needs it.
Much like last year, the Angels have dug themselves a mammoth hole with their April record. There is still a ton of ground to make up – L.A. remains 10 games behind AL West leader Texas and 7 games back in the AL Wild Card standings. But their schedule is primed for them to get right back in the mix of both races.
After their trip to Kansas City, the Angels play four games against the Dodgers (who amazingly have been just as big a disappointment this season), four games against the last-place Astros, and two games against the Cubs. That’s 10 games against substantially inferior foes, a real chance to pad the win column and get back over .500.
There is still a ton of baseball left to be played (the Angels still have 119 games to go!). And there is still a ton of room left for L.A. to improve. Josh Hamilton and Albert Pujols have yet to find their way. At some point those two guys are going to start hitting like the back of their baseball card says they should be.
If things continue to go like they have during this five-game winning streak, the Angels might be well within reach of a playoff berth when that happens.