ANAHEIM -- Angels general manager Perry Minasian is well aware the franchise hasn’t made the postseason since 2014 but said he’s not one to dwell on the past and believes this team is built to contend in 2022.
Minasian bolstered the Angels pitching by signing starting pitchers Noah Syndergaard and Michael Lorenzen to one-year deals and signing relievers Raisel Iglesias, Aaron Loup, Ryan Tepera and Archie Bradley for a combined $92.75 million. The Angels are also counting on healthy seasons from stars such as Shohei Ohtani, Mike Trout and Anthony Rendon to lead the offense.
“I don’t concern myself with the past, I look at today,” Minasian said. “We’re a really talented team in a tough division. Houston has been the class of the American League the last five or six years, Seattle has gotten better, Texas has gotten better and Oakland still has some quality players and really good arms. It’s not going to be easy. But with that being said, we have a lot of talent on this roster.”
Ohtani, the reigning AL MVP, has yet to reach the playoffs since joining the Angels in 2018 but believes they are primed for a postseason run.
"All of us are really confident that we'll be able to make the playoffs this year,” Ohtani said through interpreter Ippei Mizuhara. “We've had a pretty healthy spring so far compared to last year. I think the biggest thing is staying healthy during the season. As long as we can do that, I like our chances."
What Needs to Go Right?
The Angels should have a solid offense and a strong bullpen but the rotation remains the club’s biggest question mark and it’s been an issue for the franchise for years. The Angels need new additions Syndergaard and Lorenzen to step up and for young lefties Patrick Sandoval, José Suarez and Reid Detmers to continue to develop into capable starters. Ohtani will again lead the rotation and if he can put up a season similar to last year, it will be huge for the Angels in 2022. If the Angels have even an average rotation, it could be enough to reach the postseason for the first time since 2014.
The Angels signed Rendon to a seven-year deal worth $245 million before the 2020 season but COVID-19 led to a shortened 2020 season and Rendon dealt with several injuries last year, including undergoing season-ending right hip surgery in August. Rendon has a strong track record -- he’s a career .287/.369/.484 hitter and is regarded as a plus defender at third -- but he has a lot to prove this year after his injury-marred 2021 campaign. If Rendon can return to his prior form, it would be a huge boon for the offense and further deepen the lineup.
Team MVP Will Be ...
It’s almost impossible to pick between Ohtani, who won the AL MVP Award unanimously last year, and Trout, who won the award in 2014, ’16 and ’19. Trout is primed for a huge season after playing in just 36 games in 2021 because of a season-ending right calf strain suffered in mid-May. But it’s hard to go against Ohtani, just because he’s so elite at both pitching and hitting. If Ohtani has a season similar to last year, he’ll again be the odds-on favorite to be the MVP.
Team Cy Young Will Be ...
Ohtani is the leader of the staff and even has a chance at the AL Cy Young Award, although his innings will again be limited by being part of a six-man rotation. Ohtani made 23 starts last year and posted a 3.18 ERA with 156 strikeouts in 130 1/3 innings. He could see his innings total increase this year, as he missed a few starts last season due to a recurring blister issue and suffered from some control problems early in the year that led to shorter starts. Syndergaard has the upside to be an ace but is coming off Tommy John surgery, so it’s difficult to predict how he’ll fare. Iglesias also had 103 strikeouts compared to 12 walks last year and is considered one of the game's best closers.
The Angels end their postseason drought and finally return to the playoffs for the first time since 2014. Ohtani, Trout and Rendon all stay healthy to create one of the best offenses in the American League, while the bullpen also proves to be a major asset. Ohtani repeats as the AL MVP with Trout among the Top 3 leading vote-getters.