We all love to think we know our team so well that we could predict exactly how the season would play out before it even started. But now, as we pass the halfway mark of the Angel season, I think we would all see just how unpredictable a baseball season can really be.
Try and transport your mind back to the month of February as the Angels were about to start Spring Training. Think about all the assumptions you held back then and just how confident you were in them. Now, with those assumptions firmly in mind, consider how you would feel if I had told you so many of the various things that have come to pass already this season.
If I had told you the Angels would be 1.5 games back at the half?
Admit it, you would have been ecstatic. Even the most optimistic of us weren't firm believers in the Angels' ability to hang with the Rangers, but sure enough, they've done that so far. Almost every single expert had written the Angels off entirely, predicting a third place finish, yet here they stand with a very good chance of taking the divisional lead before the end of July.
If I had told you the Angels would be 42-40?
I'm guessing you probably would have nodded knowingly. Most every expert had the Angels pegged for about 85 wins, so a 41-40 record is right on pace for that kind of finish. What this also shows us is that maybe we shouldn't be too excited about the Angels being 1.5 games back since it seems like that has a lot more to do with the Rangers underachieving than the Angels overachieving (because, you know, they're not).
If I had told you Kendrys Morales would have zero at-bats?
I'm not saying that it would have crushed everyone's hopes, but I do suspect season ticket sales would have been way down had we all known back in February that K-Mo would miss the entire season. A lot of folks questioned how effective he would be when he came back, but I don't think any of us truly believed that there was a legit chance that he wouldn't play at all this year.
If I had told you that Vernon Wells wouldn't get his average over .200 until mid-June but would still be hitting cleanup?
And let's throw in that Torii Hunter is hitting under .240 and batting second. I don't know about you, but I would have just gouged my eyes out if someone had told me that before the season. Those guys were supposed to be the heart of the order and they have both stunk out loud so far this season. I actually think those two being so bad in the first half is a great sign for an improved second half. Wells and Hunter literally can't be much worse than they were in the first half, so this clunker of a lineup might actually start running a little smoother and more efficiently once these two start playing better (and we are already seeing that with Wells' recent surge).
If I had told you Scott Kazmir would only start one game and then get released?
OK, plenty of you could have called that one and I'm sure many more would have danced on the street to know that fate would befall in the infamous Kazmir.
If I had told you Jered Weaver would have an ERA under 2.00 and would NOT be the clear Cy Young frontrunner?
Stupid, Justin Verlander! Weaver leads Verlander in ERA and WAR, but Verlander has a better WHIP and more strikeouts. More importantly, Verlander has become a media darling since he almost threw back-to-back no-hitters, so voting for Verlander is going to be considered "sexier." Ugh, the award isn't voted on for four more months and I am already upset about how badly Weaver is going to get jobbed.
If I had told you Kevin Jepsen and Michael Kohn would get sent down and Rodney would lose the closer job in the first series?
Many would have taken this to assume that the bullpen would be a raging forest fire, rather than the small brushfire that it has turned out to be. I'm almost embarrassed that I actually thought Jepsen had a shot at closing this year, but I am amazed that the Angel bullpen has imploded despite having three relievers that were positioned to play prominent roles all underperform so badly, and I haven't even mentioned Hisanori Takahashi's struggles either. Now that I think about it, I still don't know how the Angels are surviving with such an awful bullpen.
If I had told you the Halos' would be getting a .284/.334/.412 slash line from their leadoff hitters?
The Angels must've made a trade, that would be the only logical conclusion for how the Angels would be getting such solid production from a lineup spot that we all agreed the team had no personnel to adequately fill. Considered BY FAR to be the biggest hole in the Angels' lineup, Mike Scioscia has managed to find the perfect way to juggle various players through that slot to produce a collective leadoff hitter that has been been pretty darn good and silenced any and all speculation that the team would actually pursue a trade for a "real" leadoff hitter.
If I had told you Hank Conger would have almost as many at-bats as Jeff Mathis?
Tears of joy? A parade? A national holiday? I don't even care that Conger has struggled this season. We were all led to believe before the season that Conger had almost no chance of making the Opening Day roster and that the much-maligned Mathis would be given a vast majority of playing time at catcher. Needless to say, the prospect of a season where Mathis might get 450+ at-bats caused a massive spike in anti-depressant prescriptions being written for Angel fans. All that Prozac, Zoloft and Paxil was for not though as Scioscia cured all of our blues by keeping Conger around and essentially giving him Mike Napoli's vacated playing time. It isn't perfect as Mathis still plays regularly while Bobby Wilson rots on the bench, but it is better than the doomsday scenario we were facing back in February.