Los Angeles Angels 2024 preview

Two-time MVP Shohei Ohtani played 701 games in a Los Angeles Angels uniform and never played in a playoff game. For a large portion of those 701 games, he was batting in a lineup that also featured Mike Trout. The Angels were 301-346 with Ohtani in the starting lineup. They were 50-36 on days when he was the starting pitcher. He’s now a Los Angeles Dodger.

The Angels have one playoff appearance since 2009 and those represent the only postseason plate appearances for Trout. It doesn’t look like he’ll be getting any this season either, as the Angels have a win total line in the low 70s and face long odds in the Yes/No playoff market.


It seemed like the team and its fans were going to get a break when it was announced that owner Arte Moreno was looking for a buyer, but he backed off of that when he saw how happy it made people to know that the team was potentially up for sale. So, poor Angels fans will have to continue to suffer.

With Trout missing over half of the team’s games over the last three seasons and the best player on the planet playing across town, expectations haven’t been this low since the mid-1970s. Could that actually be a buy sign for the Halos?

2024 Los Angeles Angels Odds

(odds from DraftKings as of Mar. 10)

World Series: +15000

AL Pennant: +8000

AL West: +4500

Win Total: 72.5 (-105/-115)

Make Playoffs: Yes +900 / No -1400

Los Angeles Angels Preview: Offense

Trout has missed time with a torn calf muscle, a back injury that was said to be ongoing, and a broken hamate over the last three seasons. I don’t know if the back is truly a problem on an annual basis, but the other things are pretty freaky. That being said, Trout will turn 33 in August and the escalating K% over the last three seasons are concerning. Trout still hit 40 homers in 2022, but he struck out 27.9% of the time. He’s struck out over 28% of the time in the other two seasons, including last year’s 28.7% for a career-worst mark.

When he makes contact, he still does special things and hits the ball extremely hard, but his Contact% the last three seasons have been 73.8%, 72.9%, and 75.2%. More importantly, his Z-Contact% (percentage of contact on pitches in the strike zone) have been 80.1%, 78.6%, and 81.7%. He hadn’t been lower than 85.5% in any other season. League average last season was 84.9% with the league average Contact% at 76.3%.

It is possible that Trout stays healthy, makes more contact, and has another MVP caliber season. This is the first time since 2011 that the Angels haven’t had the AL MVP favorite or co-favorite (Albert Pujols, Mike Trout, Shohei Ohtani). Maybe it is a good time to buy low-ish on Trout, but I do see the red flags.

Interestingly, it is actually the Rookie of the Year market where the Angels are represented, as Nolan Schanuel is +1000, tied for the fifth choice on the board. The 22-year-old Florida Atlantic product was actually drafted 11th overall this past June and made his MLB debut later in the year. He had a total of 97 plate appearances in the minors and walked more than he struck out over 132 MLB PA.

In three seasons with the Owls, Schanuel batted .386/.516/.698 and only struck out 57 times in 810 plate appearances. In terms of homegrown prospects, he’s the most promising hitter since Trout. Zach Neto is another good homegrown talent. He got a crash course with the leap to MLB last season when he posted just an 89 wRC+ over 329 PA. He insists on batting ninth to be the guy to turn the lineup over and, while I get the sentiment, you’d rather have your better hitters higher in the order to get more plate appearances.

The Angels finished 14th in wRC+ at 101, but Ohtani had a 180 wRC+ and Trout had a 134. It is possible that the Angels stay somewhere in the realm of league average, even without Ohtani. Brandon Drury had a 114 wRC+ and so did Mickey Moniak and Luis Rengifo. Catcher Logan O’Hoppe had a 113 wRC+, but he hit 14 homers in just 199 plate appearances. Taylor Ward was also an above average hitter by that metric.

Of the top eight in plate appearances, only Neto and Hunter Renfroe were under 100 by wRC+. I like Neto moving forward and Renfroe is gone. This offense lacks standouts and stars beyond Trout and possibly Schanuel, but there could be quite a few good hitters on this team.

Los Angeles Angels Preview: Pitching

The Angels finished 23rd in ERA and 24th in FIP last season. They amassed 11.3 fWAR as a team. Ohtani was responsible for 2.3 fWAR and had a 3.14 ERA with a 4.00 FIP. Obviously Ohtani’s absence will have an impact, but Patrick Sandoval and Reid Detmers both showed a little bit of growth last season and Griffin Canning actually turned in a decent season as well.

The numbers weren’t all that eye-popping, as Sandoval had a 4.11 ERA with a 4.18 FIP, Detmers had a 4.48 ERA with a 4.13 FIP, and Canning had a 4.32 ERA with a 4.29 FIP, but league average for starters last season was a 4.45 ERA and a 4.42 FIP.

Given that Sandoval had issues with a decreased strikeout rate and an increased walk rate, not to mention an unlucky 65% LOB%, the fact that he pitched better than league average was a huge accomplishment. He’s only a season removed from a 2.91 ERA and a 3.09 FIP over 148.2 innings. I’m looking for a bounce back here. He continues to have excellent contact management numbers and his SwStr% of 12% was above the league average by a good bit (10.8%). 

Detmers deserved a better fate as well. His K% jumped to 26.1%, a big bump from 22.6% in 2022, and experienced a velocity spike. He also altered his pitch usage a bit to go with more sliders and that generated more swings and misses. The weird thing is that Detmers had much worse results on his fastball despite more extension and more velocity, which doesn’t really add up to me. I think he could be in line for a really big season, especially if he cuts down on fastball usage and goes with more curveballs.

Opposing hitters posted a .191 BA and a .326 SLG on Detmers’ curveball, but he only threw it 19.4% of the time. His slider usage increased at the expense of his changeup, but he never made an adjustment to throw more deuces and fewer fastballs. I’ll be curious to see if that’s a change that the Angels employ with a new manager in Ron Washington and a new pitching coach in Barry Enright. Enright was with the Diamondbacks and pitching guru Brent Strom.

Ironically, too many fastballs is Canning’s problem. This past season, he shaved 5.8% off of his fastball usage per Statcast and threw more sliders and curveballs. That led to his best – and healthiest – season as a professional. Using Linear Pitch Type Run Values, the Angels were 23rd with fastballs last season, but Ohtani was the only starter with a positive run value on fastballs. Collectively, the starters outside of Ohtani were -34.7 runs with the fastball.

I will be curious to see if Enright and the other coaches see what I see. Also, the Angels stunk defensively, as they ranked 27th in Outs Above Average. Washington has been a defense and fundamentals coach throughout his career, so that should help.

The Angels bullpen was bad last season as well. They were 25th in ERA at 4.88 and 29th in FIP at 4.83. It appears likely that five free agent signings will make the Opening Day pen, including Robert Stephenson and Matt Moore. New arms back there can’t hurt.

Los Angeles Angels Player to Watch

SP Patrick Sandoval

I’ve been a big proponent of the “Free Patrick” movement, as I’d love to see what he could do with a better defensive team and a team that actually understands pitching. He’s been close to a strikeout-per-inning guy with an elite ground ball rate, but he’s fallen victim to high BABIPs and shoddy defense. He allowed 23 unearned runs last season.

I can’t really quantify this, but I’m guessing the walk rate spike for Sandoval came from trying to be too fine and nibbling because he doesn’t trust his defense to convert batted balls into outs. His SwStr% was still above average. His Zone% was actually the second-highest of his career and highest in a non-COVID year. He didn’t get as many chases last season as the previous two seasons, but he’s a guy that I’ll never be able to quit. This is a more athletic team this season, though, so maybe he’ll get some better play behind him.

Los Angeles Angels Season Win Total Odds & Prediction

The Angels had Trout and Ohtani the last two seasons and only won 73 games in each of them. I can understand why we’ve seen a big adjustment in their expectations and why this total is sitting as low as it is. However, this was a team that had the Ohtani cloud hanging over them since it was clear that he wasn’t going to stay. They had a lame-duck manager in Phil Nevin and now have a master motivator in Ron Washington.

I think things are actually looking up a bit more now. It won’t be a media circus filled with scrutiny. This is just a baseball team now. There are some guys that could be traded this season, like most of the bullpen arms and other guys reaching their final Arbitration seasons, which is a little bit concerning, but I think this team is actually a little bit undervalued at present.

It could all go really far south and the huge loss of Ohtani, who was collectively worth 9 fWAR as a hitter and pitcher, may lead to them bottoming out, but they’re on a list of teams I’m strongly considering from a win total standpoint.

Strong Lean: Over 72.5

Get all of our preseason coverage in the 2024 MLB Betting Guide.