Trout's MVP year can't overcome injuries to staff

December 28th, 2016

The Angels entered the 2016 season with the best player in baseball and high hopes that the men surrounding him would get the club back to the postseason.

Those hopes never materialized because of a rash of injuries, but one thing remained certain as the season ended with the disappointment of a 74-88 record: As long as you've got , there's always reason for optimism.

Trout won his second American League Most Valuable Player Award, but that wasn't the only positive development for a team that lost so many starting pitchers to injury that its status as a contender never materialized. The Angels won each of their final three series in 2016 and were 25-20 over their last 45 games.

:: 2015 Year in Review | 2016 Outlook ::

"Obviously we were out of it, but we finished strong," Trout said. "There was a lot of positives we can look at for next year. Seemed like every other week we had a guy go down in our lineup or our pitching staff. It took a big hit. We played it good the last few months."

The Angels almost never had a chance this year, despite Trout's continued rewriting of baseball's history books. Here are the key storylines:

5. Left out

The Angels struggled in left field in 2015 but liked their chances to improve in the position when they decided to go with a platoon of veterans and . As the season progressed, both Gentry and Nava suffered injuries, though, and that led to the Angels once again suffering in left.

The position produced a .584 OPS, the worst in left field in the Major Leagues. It's no wonder that one of the first moves general manager Billy Eppler made this offseason was trading for veteran left fielder , whose fleet feet and good glove could finally solidify the position for 2017.

4. Swan song for Weaver?

Right-hander had been with the Angels since 2006 after excelling at Long Beach State, and he became the club's unquestioned ace and a three-time All-Star. But his velocity had been in decline for several seasons entering 2016, and he struggled throughout the final year on his contract with the club.

He finished 12-12 with a 5.06 ERA and 103 strikeouts in 178 innings plus career highs in home runs allowed (37) and WHIP (1.46). Now as he enters the free-agent market for the first time in his career, it's a mystery as to where he'll turn up.

"It's a little weird," Weaver said. "It's different. Something I've never gone through or dealt with before, not knowing what the future holds and not knowing what is going to happen next year."

3. Like father, like son

Even in a down year, there were positives, and was one big one for the Angels. The reliever took after his former big league-closer dad, Steve, finally sticking in the big leagues and showing dominance that earned him a late-inning role, where he could continue moving forward.

Unfortunately for the Angels, Bedrosian had a finger injury and a blood clot in his right arm that robbed him of most of the last two months of the season, but his 1.12 ERA and 51 strikeouts in 40 1/3 innings bode well for 2017 and beyond.

2. The legend grows

Just when you think No. 27 can't get better, he outdoes himself. Trout ended up winning his second MVP rather easily, and now, at the age of 25, he's already finished first or second in the voting for that award in all five full seasons of his career.

He slashed .315/.441/.550, led the AL in on-base percentage, hit 29 homers, drove in 100 runs, walked a career-high and league-leading 116 times, stole 30 bases -- which outpaced his total from 2014 and 2015 combined -- scored a league-high 123 runs and hit 32 doubles.

"To watch what Mike does on an everyday basis just continues to both impress and amaze," Angels owner Arte Moreno said. "He is a young man who works diligently at his craft, while also having a tremendous amount of fun doing so."

1. Arm troubles

This was the biggest story of the Angels' season by far. Entering the year, the club figured it would have a solid rotation that went eight deep. Then almost all of those pitchers got hurt.

Right-hander and left-hander both suffered season-ending ulnar collateral ligament tears, with Heaney opting for Tommy John surgery and Richards deciding for stem cell treatment. missed a portion of the season while coming back from his own Tommy John. never pitched because of shoulder inflammation, needed his own Tommy John surgery in July, and in September, suffered a skull fracture when a line drive hit him in the head.

"A couple years ago, we won 98 games, slipped to 85, and [in 2016] we were decimated with injuries," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "I don't think we're that far removed from when you talk about having some success."