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Los Angeles Angels are on a roll

The Los Angeles Angels were picked by many to win the American League West for a second consecutive year, but things did not start out so promising. The lineup appeared to be paper thin beyond Mike Trout and Albert Pujols, and the rotation got off to a bumpy beginning with Jered Weaver pitching terribly in April.

However, the Angels were able to maintain order and stay around the .500 mark, keeping within earshot of the suddenly surging Houston Astros. While Houston is certainly an improved club that does not lack for power throughout the lineup, it is also a flawed team. The Astros strike out constantly and as a team, hit for one of the lowest averages in the league. The rotation is also suspect at best behind the brilliant Dallas Keuchel, who rightfully earned his first trip to the Major League Baseball All-Star game this year.

What does all this talk about Houston have to do with the Angels? It means that Houston was eventually going to regress, giving Los Angeles a chance to swoop in and take over the top spot in the West.

Entering Wednesday night, Los Angeles had won four straight and was a season-high seven games over .500 at 45-38. The Angels are actually tied with the Astros in the loss column, but have simply played four fewer games. Los Angeles still has some issues like depth of the rotation and a lineup that tends to be hot and cold, but the horses in the middle are more than doing their part to drive the engine.

Pujols, who many people gave up on two years ago amidst injuries, has become one of the best hitters in the league once again. The slugger is going to be participating in the Home Run Derby and is an All-Star once more, currently hitting a respectable .264 with a team-leading 26 home runs and 56 RBI. Then there is Trout, undoubtedly the best all-around player in the game. Trout is on his way to winning another gold glove and has a chance at another MVP season, sitting on a .302 average with 22 home runs and 48 RBI.

It will be interesting to see if interim general manager Bill Stoneman tries to pull off any large moves at the trading deadline. The Angels don’t have one of the stronger farm systems, so Stoneman’s hands could be tied even if he wants to go for broke. Of course, Stoneman only recently took the position over after Jerry DiPoto up and quit last week after a dispute with manager Mike Scioscia.

All in all, Los Angeles is right where it needs to be heading into the All-Star break. If history tells us anything, the experienced, balanced team tends to pull ahead down the stretch.

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