The Los Angeles Angels took a hot run near the All-Star break, and found themselves with a half game lead in the American League West Division. Here are the three goods, three bads, and three second half surprises that the Angels have seen and should see with the rest of the season.
This doesn't come as much shock. The Angels one-two punch are now batting third and fourth in the lineup, and have been the biggest contributors to the Angels season. Combined, the two have attributed to 31.7% of the team's RBI, 35.2% of extra-base-hits, and 53.6% of home runs. Trout is on pace for what may be his most productive season to date, and Pujols is on pace for the most home runs he's had in his entire career.
Santiago has been far and away the best pitcher for the Angels this season, and is up for debate in the mid-season Cy Young watch alert. Santiago's 2.33 ERA is third best in the American League, and it's all backed by his 1.10 WHIP and .213 opposing batting average.
The Angels have the fifth best ERA in the American League currently, but third best in their division at 3.64. Better than their ERA is their ability to limit base runners at 1.220 per inning (fourth best in AL), primarily helped by their 2.6 walks per nine, which is second best only to Minnesota in the AL.
BAD: Runners In Scoring Position With Two Outs:
As a team, the Angels have a .190/.284/.308 slash with runners in scoring positon with two outs on the board. Their .190 batting average is fourth worst in the American League in the situation, .284 on-base percentage is the lowest in the AL, and .308 slugging percentage is third lowest. Their 77 RBI attributes to 22% of the total runs batted in over the season. This will need to improve if the Angels plan on excelling in the latter part of the season.
Limited, these players don't see action every day, but there needs to be more production from the Angels bench players. The bench is currently looking at a .206/.245/.273 slash, and have contributed to just 13.3% of the team's runs scored (49), and 10.3% of RBI.
If you want to win a division race, and later, pennant race, you need everyone to contribute at a high success rate. Currently, combined, Iannetta and Joyce have a .190/.291/.313 slash, with 39 RBI in a combined 136 games.
SECOND HALF SURPRISES:
Rookie sensation Trevor Gott is becoming a household name among Angels fans, and has somewhat shown that he is the new "seventh inning" man. He holds a 2.77 ERA, 134 ERA+, and is allowing one base runner per inning. There will be some ups and downs, as comes with rookies, but Gott should be set for the long haul and become a full-timer in the Angels bullpen (i.e., no option to Salt Lake)
Starter To The Bullpen:
With the success rookie, Andrew Heaney has had, Mike Scioscia will make a challenging decision to move one of his starters to the bullpen. Hector Santiago would have been the most likely option, but with the season he's having, you can't take away his success by putting him in a lessened role. Matt Shoemaker has had his struggles over the course of the season, and has excelled previously while in the bullpen. You may see a role change, where he can add velocity, and utilize his splitter more and more.
Trade For A Left-Handed Bat:
The Angels need a lefty in the lineup that can produce. It's obvious. Who that will be is limited knowledge, but some names that have been thrown around are Adam Lind, Carlos Gonzalez and Ryan Howard. It may take a heavy haul from the farm system, or cost a starter to attain any of those bats, but if the short term success matters more than long-term, the haul won't matter much.
Taylor Blake Ward is a Senior Publisher for Scout.com, and can be contacted via email (email@example.com), or Twitter, @TaylorBlakeWard.