It's April 25th, and the Angels' offense is in bad shape. "Bad shape" may be a bit of an understatement; they are an archetype of expensive failure, an exemplification of how NOT to go about scoring runs in the big leagues. It seems not to matter how well the starting pitching performs, or whether or not the bullpen can handle their duties of holding opponents in place, because it's all a moot point; when the offense is this bad, there is no amount of greatness to be seen on the field that will save the Halos from taking loss after loss.
There was once the hope that at least they had a guy named Mike Trout in their lineup, who could lift even the most paltry of rag tag lineups into mediocrity at worst, fighting for a Wild Card spot at worst. For a good chunk of April, a creatively optimistic fan could blame the mysterious stink coming from the Big A on an underperforming Trout, who was dealing with pitchers no longer giving him anything to hit up in the zone, his stats taking a hit as a result. For some, it seemed like that might be the reason the for the gross inadequacies of the rest of the team, or why the scorecard looked so ugly after every game.
Well, Mike Trout was back to doing Mike Trout things this weekend, and that stench is still as present as ever. In the recent Seattle and Chicago series alone, Trout batted .417 and had an OPS of 1.226. He raised his season totals in those departments to .299 and .893, respectively. In those powerful PAs, Trout was showing us a guy that seemed to have made the adjustment to how pitchers were approaching him, and was finally getting on track in 2016. Okay, so that problem is solved.
Now, if only the rest of the lineup could stop being horrible.
The Angels right now are a team that's batting a horrible Albert Pujols as their cleanup guy, game after game. The refusal to move him down is going to be remembered as one of the most stubborn issues from Mike Scioscia, in a management career littered with stubborn issues. With his multi-hit game yesterday, that included home run #563, we saw the max output and contributions that El Hombre is still capable of. That was a best case scenario. The dismal .153 AVG is probably more indicative of what we can expect from the guy these days.
But it aint just Albert batting cleanup that's insane. As Turk's Teeth pointed out yesterday, the Angels currently have three of the top 10 worst batters in ALL OF MLB right now in their starting lineup every game(Johnny Giavotella, C.J. Cron and Albert Pujols). Three offensive bottomless pits that Mike Scioscia happily dives into when he pencils them into every single game, one of whom the team will still be paying an insane amount of money to in the year 2021.
The Angels currently own the worst team batting average in MLB(.213), the second worst team OPS(.609) and fourth lowest team wRC+(77). They are putrid right now, and if you were one of those who were clinging to Mike Trout surge that would elevate the team beyond "worst ever" discussion and into more constructive and affirming territory, then the Mariners series showed you the stark reality: Mike Trout can put this team on his back with Hall of Fame-caliber play and they'd still be limping through games, praying that it's close in late innings and not a full on blowout.
Forget about starting pitching(it's been fine, outside of a few starts) and the bullpen(another post for another day), and instead focus your fury on Mike Scioscia's lineups. They aren't hitting, they aren't stealing bases(second fewest SB in MLB) and they're barely scoring runs(league low 57); some managers could take these struggling players and find ways to get creative, possibly maximizing their potential benefit to the team. But not Mike Scioscia. We're seeing a guy getting the least he can from a large swath of his everyday hitters, and he's sticking to his guns.
If you look at the lack of prospects in the pipeline for the Halos, plus the current roster, and weigh that against expensive contracts for guys who are nowhere close to living up to them, as well as an improvement of other teams in the division, you could foresee an era of Angels baseball that's far removed from the salad days of the 2000s. You'd see a future club that is barely keeping their head above water, and losing fan after fan as they attempt to find any way to jump off the sinking SS Scioscia. A fate that would have one bright spot, Mike Trout, amidst a bevy of darkness.
Scary stuff. Even scarier, the future may be now.