With the 2011 season ending rather roughly this past week we've all had a chance to recollect on another season of baseball as it rushes past us once again. It feels like just yesterday that us Angel fans were a big heaping mess after the Angels stumbled through the opening series against the Royals, or when we got to see the first of what will be many Trumbombs. Regardless of how badly this season has ended there's no ignoring how great this season has been for the Angels, even if we did fall out of the playoffs race in a rather heartbreaking manner. This was not a failed season for the Angels, this was a jumping point for the future of the Angels organization, both on and off the field.
At least we ended our season with a shred of dignity, unlike other teams, but I won't name names.
Let's start at the beginning, Jered Weaver just came off his best year as an Angel and we were finally going to get to see a full season of Dan Haren, and what did we get from them? The best pitching performance of any 1-2 in all of baseball for the first month of the season, that's what. This is where the talks for Jered Weaver as a leading Cy Young candidate began, with his landslide win of AL Player of the Month. This was a great way to start off the season for the Angels, and it would only get much better.
This season saw the Angels open to doors to a bevy of rookies, ranging from the Angels Minor League Player of the Year Mark Trumbo to a welcome surprise in 21 year old Tyler Chatwood after Kazmir was joyously ousted from this ballclub. While not every kid on the roster stuck around until the end, there were 2 that proved immediate dominating forces on the roster, we wouldn't have to sit around and wait for them to get fair seasoning in the majors like most ML rookies. Those 2 rookies, Mark Trumbo and Peter Bourjos, have proved to be the players that the Angels needed now and in the future. After learning we would lose out on Kendrys for another season the Angels needed some new talent they could build a championship ballclub around, and these two proved to be those players. Peter Bourjos, hands down one of the best centerfielders to play in a long time, and Mark Trumbo, an Angels fan from Anaheim that could slug with the best in the game. Seeing these two players surge into the Majors gave many Angel fans a reason to smile and look optimistically towards the future, but the best was still yet to come.
On July 8th the Angels made a move that shocked not only Angel fans, but the entire world of baseball as a whole. That's the day the Angels called up future big league superstar Mike Trout to join them, and boy did he have a grand entrance. Well, not this time, as Mike Trout was sent back down August 1st after hitting for a .492 OPS, probably because he spent too much time with Jeff Mathis. He wouldn't leave without making some kind of mark, as he hit his first big league home run in the last game of his last series in Baltimore for all of his friends and family. We all knew that wouldn't be the last time we saw Mike Trout make history, but none of us expected us to see him come back and do it so soon. Just a mere month later, Mike Trout was back in the clubhouse, but this time it was a different player, a more confident player, and player ready to take down whoever stood in his way. During an August 30th game against the Seattle Mariners Mike Trout hit two home runs off opposing starting pitcher Anthony Vasquez to become the youngest Angel to hit 2 home runs in a single game.
Mike Trout wasn't the only Angel to find personal glory on a historical level this season, for on July 27th Ervin Santana became the 9th player in Angels hitter to throw a no hitter. Santana had struggled for most of the season prior to this game, though in his start before he carried a no hitter through 6 innings against the Orioles. Lightning would prove to strike twice, or one and a half times, or however you want to put it, as Ervin found that no-hit magic once again as he finished the job he set out the week before. At this point in the season the Angels carried the biggest and baddest 1-2-3 in the entire AL, no staff's came close to touching them, they proved themselves to be the best starting rotation to not make the playoffs.
But it's ok, as the Angels made sure to keep that core of that starting staff alive for as long as they could. August 21st proved to be the happiest moment of the season for every single Angels fan out there, being in the thick of the playoffs didn't matter, having a crappy bullpen and a wishy-washy offense didn't matter, on this day the Angels secured Jered Weaver to a long term extension. Everyone had been debating what would become of Jered Weaver up to this point, would the Angels let him ride out his last year on the squad in 2012 and try to win him back in free agency? Would be become a trade piece meant to pull in big minor league pieces to set up for our future? Our question was answered on that day, Jered Weaver was the future of our staff, even Reagins couldn't mess this one up. He wanted to stay in Anaheim because of personal values and a sense of pride with the Angels. For once baseball didn't have to deal with another prima-donna superstar chasing the fat stacks *cough*John Lackey*cough*, it was a breath of fresh air for baseball, but most importantly it was a huge sigh of relief for the Angels.
Next year looks to serve up a lot of memorable moments for the Angels, Jered Weaver gets to test out his shiny new extension, Torii Hunter plays out the final year of his contract (but hopefully not as an Angel), and the Angels get to go through another intense AL West race against the quickly growing Texas Rangers. Oh, and don't forget about Kendrys Morales and his return to the majors after being out of commission for two years. Are we going to get a shadow of his former self or a a resurgence of the Cuban Dynamo? Out of all the excitement that comes with the end of season and the hope that comes with heading into another offseason with a chance to improve there's once question I would like to ask Tony Reagins.
Is this finally going to be the year you cut Jeff Mathis???