LOD’s 3 Players to Watch: Los Angeles Angels
Deeply rooted in our rich history and traditions of Opening Day and the first week of the new baseball season is the beloved ideal that hope springs eternal. Most famously, even when they literally had not won a World Series since the Ottoman Empire was still a place that existed, the heroically loyal Chicago Cubbies fans remained faithful.
The situation is not quite as dire for fans of the California Angels; I mean the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim; I mean the Los Angeles Angels. Nevertheless, the classic questions about the Angels perpetually persist. The Angels’ historic and current reputation for underachieving, despite rosters with generationally talented stars, is well established.
Anthony Rendon now is sentenced to a suspension of five games for doing his best/worst impersonation of Ron Artest at The Malice at the Palace. Because this is a family friendly website, the exchange of words won’t be quoted here. Frankly, attempting to physically attack a fan deserves a lawsuit as well.
Obviously, this is not the type of veteran leadership that the ball club hoped and expected from Rendon when they signed him as a free agent. It’s a cliché because it’s true; the best ability is availability. Beyond this suspension, Rendon’s career as an Angel has suffered from significant injuries.
Mike Trout is the Venn Diagram of the “Peanuts” comic strip and the movie “A Bronx Tale.” As Linus exclaimed, “There’s no heavier burden than a great potential!” As Lorenzo, Robert De Niro’s character, somberly declared, “The saddest thing in life is wasted talent.” Rather than winning World Series rings and cementing his legacy, Trout’s inexplicable choice of the status quo environment demonstrates that Trout is not a true leader of men with the heart of a champion.
Trout finally enjoyed experiencing winning multiple playoff games, as a key figure for the USA in the World Baseball Classic in March. However, Trout was humiliated by Angels teammate Shohei Ohtani, who struck out Trout to clinch the championship for Japan.
Shohei Ohtani is the second coming of Babe Ruth. Ohtani now joins Ruth as the only two players in MLB history who have accomplished both 400 career strikeouts as pitchers as well as 100 career home runs as batters. Referencing availability again, Ohtani massively boosts the Angels with his ironman willingness and skills to play virtually every day, as a hitter when it’s not his turn in the rotation to pitch.
Ohtani and the 2023 World Baseball Classic proved hugely mutually beneficial. The matchup of Japan vs. Korea achieved 63 million viewers. The most viewers ever of a World Series game, in 1980, was 54 million people. Ohtani’s Instagram followers catapulted from 1.8 million to 5 million before and after the tournament. Because he is such a true international superstar, Ohtani trounces his competition in projected 2023 endorsement earnings. Ohtani should make $35 million this year from endorsements alone. Compare that to $4.5 million for Aaron Judge and only $4 million for Mike Trout.
However, unfortunately for Ohtani, the rest of the team often fails to capitalize on his successes. From 1901 onwards, 26 pitchers have tossed 10 or more strikeouts while allowing zero runs on Opening Day. Only these 2023 Angels lost any of those games.