What happened to the Los Angeles Angels?

For a while, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim were regarded as a powerhouse in a fairly weak AL West. The former surging Texas Rangers had to deal with the loss of their ace Yu Darvish, the Astros fought for years to become playoff contenders, Seattle wept as they regretted former contracts to Robinso Cano and Oakland couldn’t seem to make a play without an error. This is all without mentioning that the Angels owned the best player on the planet for the past three years in Mike Trout.

There’s no way they could miss the playoffs right?

Well if you looked at their playoff odds on August 1st you wouldn’t have thought so. Then, the Angels stood a 25.1 per cent chance at winning the division with a 70.4 per cent chance at either taking a wild card position or winning the division. As an Angels fan, you had to feel pretty good about those odds.

Of course, there is always the “dog days of August” and the unpredictable second half of the season. If baseball only relied on odds, the playoffs would be played in August. But it’s not. There’s some eight weeks left of important baseball to play and the Angels have “played” it incredibly poorly.

For starters, the Angels are 23-27 in their 50 games since the non-waiver trade deadline. Their pythagorean record of 74-78 isn’t far off their actual record of 78-74 demonstrating that this team has, if anything, achieved more than their lacklustre performance would suggest.

The large disparity between the Angels of former and the disgraced Halo’s today is one told mostly by one of their most impactful hitters in their lineup, Albert Pujols. Really, Pujols epitomizes the Angels struggles.

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Looking at Pujols’s struggles, it’s easy to see the proverbial cliff he’s fallen off in the most recent disastrous stretch. If you are thinking that maybe the last 28 days have been a dry spell for him, you couldn’t be more wrong. His second half totals, a much larger, more representative sample, manifests a similarly awful .211/.270/.367 triple slash line. The massive difference however is in his power outputs. In the first half, Pujols homered approximately every 13 plate appearances whereas he only homered once in every 26 at-bats in the second half.

Of course, the demise of the Angels doesn’t lie solely on the back of Pujols. Baseball is an inherently team sport and teams have certainly succeeded without a star player before.  After sending Howie Kendrick to the Dodgers, the Angels never really found another second baseman. Sure, they filled it with a rather unremarkable option in Johnny Giavotela who’s 87 wRC+ is only made worse by a glove that’s cost the Angles 14 runs per DRS. All said, he’s been worth an unimpressive 0.3 wins above replacement this season.

That’s not to say they were ripped off in that trade, though. They did acquire Andrew Heaney who, besides taking out investments in himself, has cemented himself as one of the cornerstones of the Angels rotations for years to come. In his 16 starts, Heaney commands a 3.30 ERA with a 3.57 FIP worth a commendable 1.6 WAR.

Other than Heaney though, there isn’t much in the rotation. Garrett Richards is undoubtably having a good season after returning from injury but he’s no ace. And the Angels desperately need one with C.J Wilson, Matt Shoemaker, Hector Santiago and Jared Weaver making up the remainder of the rotation that ranks 21st according to Fangraphs.

Even their superstar Trout seems to have tailed off in the back-half of 2015. His second half line of .269/.385/.546 is very un-Trout like but is even more magnified looking at his abysmal August where he went on a despicable stretch of .218/.352/.337 with only one home run. Although it isn’t totally his fault–he’s still their best player and arguably the league’s MVP–taking the month off isn’t the best thing to do in August when you’re in the middle of a postseason race.

In all, the Angels have been a calamity all season whether you’re talking about on the field or the debacle off the field regarding the departure of former GM Jerry Dipoto. The current situation doesn’t look good as they sit five games back of the division with a tighter 0.5 games back of the wild card. With a sub-500 pythagorean record, and myriad of incompetent failures this season, it would be fair to say the Angels don’t deserve a chance at the holy grail.