ANAHEIM -- The Angels had high hopes in 2023, and remained in the race until late July, but ultimately finished with a losing record for an eighth consecutive season and are still searching for their first postseason berth since 2014.
It was also the last year of two-way superstar Shohei Ohtani’s contract. Ohtani is expected to win the AL MVP Award for the second time in three seasons despite sustaining a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow in late August.
Minasian said bringing back Ohtani remains the club’s top priority this offseason and his free agency will be the biggest storyline in the sport. But the Angels have plenty of other questions. Here’s a look back at their season:
Was it when the Angels lost Anthony Rendon, Gio Urshela and Zach Neto to injury in Texas in mid-June? Or was it when Mike Trout and Rendon were lost to injury in San Diego in early July? Injuries plagued the Angels all year and they simply couldn’t overcome them. They added reinforcements at the Trade Deadline, only to fall into a losing streak in early August that essentially ended their season.
What we learned:
Sometimes even the best-laid plans go awry. The Angels addressed their lack of depth in the offseason and at the Trade Deadline but it just didn’t work out. The injuries proved to be too much and the rotation was also a major culprit. Angels starters posted a 3.67 ERA in 2022 but regressed to a 4.47 ERA in ’23. If the Angels are to compete next season, they’re going to need their starters -- such as Patrick Sandoval, Reid Detmers and Tyler Anderson -- to pitch better.
The Angels got contributions from several young players who should be a major part of their future, including outfielder Mickey Moniak, catcher Logan O’Hoppe, first baseman Nolan Schanuel, shortstop Neto, right-hander Chase Silseth and relievers Jose Soriano, Ben Joyce and Sam Bachman. The farm system still isn’t highly regarded, especially after trading away several of its best prospects at the Trade Deadline, but a lot of talent debuted in ’23.
Area for improvement:
The Angels could use improvement just about everywhere, which is why they finished 16 games under .500. The Angels had power. They hit 231 homers, which ranked as the fifth-highest total in the Majors, but they struggled to hit with runners on base and finished in the middle of the pack in runs scored. They need to improve their situational hitting and their rotation next year.
On the rise:
O’Hoppe had an impressive September, hitting nine homers in 26 games, and has already emerged as one of the club’s leaders despite playing in just 51 career games. He missed four months after tearing the labrum in his left shoulder on a swing in April but returned stronger than ever and appears to be a major building block for the Angels.
Who else could it be other than Ohtani? He was again the best player in the world and hit .304/.412/.654 with an AL-leading 44 homers in 135 games. He also went 10-5 with a 3.14 ERA and 167 strikeouts in 132 innings. It’s unfortunate he sustained his elbow injury, which will keep him from pitching in 2024, but he’s still expected to command a record contract in free agency. But it’s anyone’s guess whether he’ll be back with the Angels. He’s comfortable with the organization, but it never had a winning record during his time with the franchise.