Los Angeles Angels
2022 record: 73-89, third in American League West
Offseason headlines: The Angels gave skipper Phil Nevin a one-year contract after compiling a 46-60 record on an interim basis after the June firing of Joe Maddon. "The guys in the clubhouse trust and rely on him," sluggerMike Trout said. Added two-way star Shohei Ohtani: "Players were with him and gave him all their best." 1B/DH Albert Pujols officially retired with 703 home runs, 2,218 RBIs and 3,384 hits over 22 seasons. Free agency saw the Angels add some versatile, veteran bats with 3B/SS Gio Urshela and INF/OF Brandon Drury. OF Hunter Renfroe joined his fifth team in five years but has 60 homers the past two seasons. Former Dodgers LHP Tyler Anderson signed a 3-year, $39 million deal. Reliever Carlos Estevez and RHP Michael Lorenzen also arrived via free agency.
Spring storylines: The World Baseball Classic served up quite the appetizer for postseason-starved Angels fans, whose team has the division's longest active playoff drought (2014): Ohtani and Trout playing for a title on March 21, albeit on opposite teams as Ohtani fanned Trout swinging to end Japan's 3-2 win against Team USA. Having played just 157 games over three seasons since signing a $245 million deal in December 2019, 3B Anthony Rendon looked healthy this spring with a .444 average, two homers and eight RBIs in his first 11 exhibition games. LHP Reid Detmers excelled in Cactus League action and is a popular choice among Anaheim insiders for a breakout season.
Young guns: The organization's top prospect is C Logan O'Hoppe, who arrived in trade that sent Brandon Marsh to the Phillies last August. If he doesn't replace Max Stassi by Opening Day, his bat will find its way into the Halos' lineup soon. RHP Ben Joyce only has 13 innings in the minors, but his 105-mph fastball will play at any level. SS Zach Neto, L.A.'s first-round pick (13th overall) in 2022, is likely to spend a full season in the minors.
Fall feeling: With reigning MVP Ohtani playing perhaps his last season and three-time MVP Trout turning 32 in August, there will never be a better time for the Angels to win their first World Series since 2002. Ohtani signed a one-year, $30 million deal to avoid arbitration after tallying 34 homers, 95 RBIs, 15 wins, a 2.33 ERA and 219 Ks. If the megastars can channel their WBC success, October could be in play.
Odds, even: Despite employing the planet's two best players, the Angels are 550 to win the American League West at FanDuel. PointsBet (650) and DraftKings (750) also place them behind Houston and Seattle.
--Field Level Media