The 2018 LA Angels season didn’t end how fans wanted it to but there were still many performances that deserve credit.
The Los Angeles Angels have missed the postseason for a fourth straight season. Despite that, there were still players who made the most of their seasons. While two teams in the AL West enjoy postseason berths, let’s sit back, relax, and enjoy the Halo Awards
Underrated Star: Andrelton Simmons
In 2016, the Angels traded then prospect Sean Newcomb and 10-year Angel Erick Aybar for Andrelton Simmons. Simmons was seen as the best defensive shortstop in the league. His downside, however, was how poor offensively he was. That narrative changed last year after setting career highs in home runs and RBIs.
This season, Simmons continued his offensive development by setting his new career high in RBI’s with 75. He hit 33 of his RBI’s in high leverage situations. His strikeout rate of 7.3% was the lowest in the MLB. While Simmons is not the typical modern hitter because of his low on-base percentage of .337, his production should not be undermined.
Simmons is not talked about a lot, but he is one of the best shortstops in baseball. His defense, along with a .292 average, 75 RBIs, 11 home runs, and 26 doubles are why Simmons is the underrated star of the Angels.
Reliever of the Year: Jose Alvarez
While relievers like Cam Bedrosian or Blake Parker are easy choices, they do not compare to the incredible year Jose Alvarez had. The 29-year-old reliever led the 19th ranked bullpen, in terms of ERA, with a 2.71 ERA in 63 innings.
Alvarez set career lows in ERA and WHIP while tying his career high in strikeouts. Opponents hit just .215 against him, thanks to his team-leading 21.3% soft contact rate. When opposing hitters did get contact, Alvarez did a fantastic job of keeping the ball in the field, highlighted by an infield fly rate of 10.4%.
A mix of soft contact and groundballs allowed Alvarez to dominate this season. Despite not being the teams’ primary closer, he excelled in his role and for that Jose Alvarez is the Angels Reliever of the Year.
Rookie of the Year: Shohei Ohtani
The “Japanese Babe Ruth” showed Major League Baseball why he was the most coveted Japanese prospect since Ichiro Suzuki. Shohei Ohtani won’t be seen on a mound anytime soon, but Angels fans can be just as excited for his bat.
In 367 plate appearances, Ohtani hit 22 home runs and 61 RBI. Over 162 games this means he would average 34 HR and 95 RBI. Those stats would rank him second in home runs and first in RBI on the team.
It’s already impressive that a rookie could produce these type of numbers. However, Ohtani has been hitting with a damaged UCL since September 6. Since then, he has hit .278/.341/.519 and a 134 wRC+. His production will be a welcomed addition to the Angels lineup for years, but for this year Ohtani deserves the Angels Rookie of the Year Award.
SHO TIME (again)!!
CY Young: Jaime Barria
Jaime Barria made his MLB debut April 11 and was seen as the sixth starter to accommodate Ohtani’s pitching schedule. After injuries rattled the rotation, Barria became a stabilizing force for the Angels.
The 21-year-old rookie had a 3.41 ERA in 129.1 innings. He led the Angels in starter ERA and gave up hard contact on only 34.3% of hits. His walk rate could use improvement, but his 8.8% walk rate makes his accomplishments all the more impressive.
Despite struggling with typical rookie problems of control, Barria was able to give consistency to an Angels rotation. For that, Barria is the Angels CY Young this season.
MVP: Mike Trout
Mike Trout has been the best player in baseball for almost his entire career, making the decision for team MVP too easy. In another injury-shortened season, Trout led the MLB in OBP, OPS, and wRC+. Despite only hitting 79 RBI, Trout continued to dominate in other facets of his game.
Trout has been criticized for never winning a Gold Glove award. With seven outfield assists and zero errors committed in 1076.2 innings, he might win his first Gold Glove of his career. Trout also tied for the MLB lead in double plays turned by an outfielder.
The 26-year-old center fielder cements his legacy every year he plays. This season is no different, proving he can be a defensive and offensive star. While he may not win his third AL MVP, he certainly deserves to be the Angels’ MVP.
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