Ladies and gentlemen, we're here.
We didn't start from the bottom, but we started from just the right position in the middle to have begun to acclimate to the feeling of inferiority. Not any longer, though! These 2014 Angels have finished with baseball's best record, and after Mike Trout's performance in this season's All-Star Game locked up home-field advantage for the American League in the World Series, the Angels have earned themselves potential home-field advantage in every round of postseason play.
Speaking of postseason play, how's that going to shake out?
As the Angels are yet to discover their ALDS opponent, let's take a look at what to possibly expect against potential foes. A brief glimpse at who's hot against a few teams the Angels could face.
In the immediate, the Halos can find themselves drawing one of two opponents: either their old division rival of postseason chases past, the Kansas City Royals, or their current division rival of postseason chases present, the Oakland Athletics.
VERSUS KANSAS CITY
- Chris Iannetta: On his career against the Royals (72 plate appearances), Iannetta's slash of .274/.375/.516 (producing an OPS of .891) brings the consistent threat of getting on base, though his seven extra-base hits against Kansas City prove he's no slouch when he actually swings. When this potential series shifts back to Kauffman Stadium, Iannetta boasts a .561 slugging percentage in the park--wise move is to play him as long as the team is there.
- Mike Trout: Though it's a foregone conclusion that Trout's name should appear against every team, I'll include him particularly against the Royals because he's consistently made a farce of their pitching staff. 46 career plate appearances have seen Trout post a slash of .361/.460/.694 with 7 home runs, 20 runs scored and even 4 stolen bases to top it off. Whichever park he faces them in doesn't matter; Trout's OPS at Kauffman is .922, so while he may be more Herculean against them in Anaheim, he will still obliterate KC pitching in KC.
- Albert Pujols: If the Royals can beat Oakland, The Machine will finally get the opportunity he dreamed of in St. Louis: feasting on the Royals in October. In 328 career plate appearances against Kansas City, Pujols has racked up 167 total bases to go with a .333 batting average and a 1.038 OPS, which ALSO go with his 18 home runs, 21 doubles and 49 runs scored.
- Jered Weaver: He's our ace, and he's our ace against Kansas City. On his career: a 2.21 ERA, 1.112 WHIP, 8.8 K/9, 4 strikeouts per walk, and just 4 home runs allowed in 77.2 innings pitched (oh, and a 7-4 record in 12 games, if you're into those stats). He might be worth the three-man rotation should we face Kansas City and not sweep them. We'll need him two games if it gets to that situation.
- Joe Smith: His career with Cleveland gave him ample time to prepare for this potential matchup. in 36 appearances (29 innings pitched), Smith bears a 2.48 ERA, 0.931 WHIP, just 5.9 hits per nine innings, and one home run allowed (coupled with a 3-0 record). Our bullpen is deep and stronger than it's been in twelve years, and against Kansas City, Smith will be the anchor.
- Erick Aybar: Let's be honest here: Not many Angels are able to exactly dominate Oakland's pitching staff. Aybar, however, has done a pretty decent job over his career, batting at a .299 clip with 26 extra-base hits, 16 stolen bases, a .740 OPS and 58 runs scored against the A's (in 486 career plate appearances). What's more: at the
MausoleumColiseum, Aybar bats .338 with an OBP of .371, a slugging percentage of .463, and 72 hits, in 246 plate appearances.
- Josh Hamilton: If he makes his way onto the ALDS roster against Oakland, there's good reason. Hamilton's career .294 batting average against the A's, 18 home runs, .493 slugging percentage and 25 doubles are ample evidence that he can hold his own against Oakland's pitchers. While his stats take a morose dip when translated to the Coliseum specifically, 10 of his 18 Oakland homers have still come in Oakland itself.
- Jered Weaver: I'll list him again because it's worth it. He's pitched a season's worth of innings against Oakland in his career (198.2), and made the most of each: a 2.49 ERA, 1.082 WHIP, 2.3 BB/9, a respectable 7.4 H/9, two complete-game shutouts, and a 13-9 record. He's got the best track record against Oakland to hold their lineup to a minimal productivity.
- Huston Street: I look specifically at Street's time playing in Oakland. His time as an opponent of Oakland is not very extensive, but his playing career there gives a stellar picture of what to expect from our lights-out closer. In 149 career innings in the Coliseum, he boasts a 2.60 ERA, 1.02 WHIP, 9.4 K/9, 2.4 BB/9 and 155 K.