The 2015 season was not kind to the Angels.

Albert Pujols - Andrew Dieb/Icon Sportswire
Albert Pujols – Andrew Dieb/Icon Sportswire

For months, the team played Chutes and Ladders in the American League West standings. After a disappointing August, which saw the team drop to more than seven games back of the division lead, the Angels turned their season around and went on a September hot streak. A rousing comeback victory Saturday against the Texas Rangers brought the team close to a playoff appearance. On Sunday, the Angels needed a win and an Astros loss to advance to a one-game division playoff, the precursor to an official postseason appearance.

But fate dealt the Angels a knockout blow when the Rangers’ offense exploded Sunday, scoring six runs in the sixth inning against an embarrassing assortment of ineffective Angels relievers.

So many things went wrong this season for the Angels, and it’s impossible to pinpoint that moment for the Angels. Before identifying some changes that the Angels need to incorporate this offseason, it’s important to understand what went wrong.

What went wrong

One of the main struggles for the Angels this year has been the team’s starting pitching. Jered Weaver, who posted a 7-12 record with an ERA of 4.64, was terribly disappointing. Matt Shoemaker struggled, too, posting a 7-10 record with an ERA of 4.46, according to baseball-reference.com. Combine those poor pitching performances with CJ Wilson’s season-ending injury, and you’ve got a bad situation made worse. Despite some shining performances by fellow starters Andrew Heaney and Garrett Richards, the Angels lacked the necessary pitching depth to give them an advantage going into September.

Another bad omen came at the July 31 trade deadline. Instead of acquiring some notable position players like Yoennis Cespedes, the Angels made a feeble attempt to strengthen their outfield. Acquiring has-beens like David DeJesus, David Murphy and Shane Victorino puzzled both Angels and baseball fans alike. Instead of capitalizing at the deadline like the New York Mets, the Angels floundered. The lack of offensive production from these players also played into the team’s inability to score runs in August, when the team found itself at its coldest.

How it can be fixed

Angel fan - Andrew Dieb/Icon Sportswire
Angel fan – Andrew Dieb/Icon Sportswire

Angels’ owner Arte Moreno is not stranger to being burned by high-priced signings (Josh Hamilton), it’s necessary for the Angels to spend big on a starting pitcher. They could sign Johnny Cueto, Scott Kazmir or David Price. Yes, the Angels may need to spend a fortune to acquire these hot talents. But if the 2015 season taught the team anything, it’s that betting on rookie pitchers to deliver big is both unwise and naïve. This goes for offensive production, too. If the Angels can afford to buy a slugger after solving their starting pitching concerns, the team would undoubtedly get stronger.

Most importantly, the Angels need to embrace their new GM Billy Eppler’s philosophy on statistics. Eppler is not obsessed with statistics, but he understands the importance of what numbers can tell the team. Let’s hope disagreements similar to the reported ones between manager Mike Scioscia and former GM Jerry Dipoto are gone. Marrying statistics and old-school “feel” is essential to the team gaining a new presence on the field in 2016.

Maybe these changes can get the Angels off the Disneyland-like merry-go-round that they’ve been stuck on for years.

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Shane Newell
Shane Newell is pursuing his M.A. degree in data journalism at Stanford University. A lifelong Dodgers fan, Shane grew up in Southern California and graduated from Long Beach State with a B.A. in journalism in 2015. As an undergraduate, Shane worked at The Daily 49er and interned for two summers at the Orange County Register, where he specialized in local news and features. He wants to be a data journalist who tell stories through numbers and graphics. He hopes to use his data and multimedia skills to work on investigative projects across the world.

1 COMMENT

  1. That Hamilton and Pujols contracts were two of the worst contracts I have ever seen, that was a definite handcuff on the franchise, but the pitching woes, good grief. If they are going to go after anyone to solidify their rotation, it would be Price. Cueto was grossly ineffective with KC: 4.76 ERA, 10 HRs in 13 Starts, 1.451 WHIP, and a laughable .307 BAA. Kazmir is too much of a risk to give more than a year contract to, maybe 2 if you want to, as his injury prone past is too much to gamble on. Price on the other hand will be coveted by just about any team that will be able to afford him…Cubs, Dodgers, Yankees, Red Sox, Angels.

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