Not Even Shohei Ohtani Can Break the Angels’ Cycle of Mediocrity

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Mike Trout was named 2014 AL MVP on Nov. 13, 2014, six weeks after the l. a. Angels of Anaheim completed a 98-win season. While the Angels were swept by the Kansas City Royals within the ALDS, they were still a damn good team with a plus-143 run differential and eight players posting an OPS of a minimum of .700. Two years later, when Trout won the 2016 AL MVP, the Angels weren’t a damn good team, nor were they in 2019 when Trout joined Jimmie Foxx, DiMaggio, Mantle, and Berra because the only players to win AL MVP 3 times.

Barring a monster last half, Trout won’t become the primary four-time AL MVP winner, though his teammate, Shohei Ohtani, could become the Angels’ fourth all-time MVP and provides the franchise four of the last eight AL MVP winners. And Ohtani, barring a monster last half from his team, would do so amidst continued mediocrity from a franchise that struggles to win despite fielding the league’s best player in four of the last six years.

The Angels entered Friday night’s game against the Baltimore Orioles with a 39-41 record, nine games behind the Astros within the AL West and seven .5 games behind the Tampa Bay Rays for the second Wild Card spot. and that they needed two taters from Ohtani to beat the league’s worst team by one run. “He just about single-handedly beat us. He’s such an honest player. I do not know what to mention,” Orioles manager Brandon Hyde said after the sport. “The hottest hitter on the earth immediately and it isn’t just driving the ball and base hits. It’s deep home runs. You walk him and he’ll steal second on you.”

Ohtani over the last 15 games (two of including just one at-bat): 13 home runs and 21 RBIs in 54 at-bats. The Angels over the last 15 games: 7-8. The last 15 games, during which the Angels lost five games by a minimum of four runs and never once allowed fewer than two runs, are the right microcosm of Angels’ baseball over the last several years; the mediocrity persists despite domination from the simplest player in baseball. Conor Orr filled certain Albert Breer on the MMQB Mailbag and answered this question: “How many Super Bowls would Tom Brady wear all of Aaron Rodgers’s teams and vice versa?”

Rodgers has one Super Bowl win in 13 years as a starting quarterback while Brady has seven in 20 seasons. Orr believes Rodgers would have “three, maybe four” of Brady’s seven Super Bowls and makes several good points that take this question in several directions, including “I don’t know if Brady, had he been drafted within the seventh round by the Packers, would have had the prospect to rise through the organization as he did in New England, thus cementing himself as a journeyman backup. He was obviously ok to become the best player in NFL history, but I feel tons of his rise had to try to to with a willingness from the Patriots’ coaching staff to buck traditional thinking and pour their resources behind someone like Brady, along with side Brady’s ability to ascertain that working the way he did was getting to be rewarded.” Other topics covered: Jaguars as a dark horse within the AFC South, starting quarterback on subsequent 49ers’ team to win an excellent Bowl, and Zach Wilson.

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