Thursday, May 30, 2024

Don't Let it Go to Your Head This Time


Yankees-Angels is generally a low stakes series. Two teams on opposite sides of the country, opposite W/L records, opposite mentalities. It shouldn't generally be the sort of thing that a team can put that much stake in.

And yet. The last time the Angels and Yankees played each other, the Angels beat the Yankees so badly that they thought they were a playoff team, got a ton of players at the deadline and set themselves up for an intense letdown in August. What happened to the Angels last year was uniquely terrible, because they made things so much worse for themselves than if they had just...done nothing. The Yankees didn't base a playoff run off of sweeping the Astros last year. The Angels just got too greedy, and they mistook a good week for a good team, and...y'know...screwed themselves.

And seeing that the Angels have already taken one from the Yankees, I have to make it clear that just because the Yankees' hot streak has been winding down on a road trip, that doesn't mean the Angels are a good team. It is pure happenstance, differing wavelengths, and something more generic than the Angels, without Mike Trout, being an actual good team.

Now, there have been some wild things happening in Anaheim recently, mostly ex-Braves, but it's only moved the needle slightly. Kevin Pillar has been surprisingly amazing for the Angels, and right now he's hitting .431 with 5 homers and 20 RBIs in 17 games. Taking the place of Trout for a spell, Pillar is way above replacement level, and providing a sense of urgency to a team without much. Meanwhile, Luis Guillorme is filling in at 3rd for the oft-injured Anthony Rendon, and he's hitting .355 in 11 games. Guillorme is great at sneaky contact work and great infield play, and he's helping a fairly odd infield of people like Zach Neto and Nolan Schanuel who are doing in the majors what most people their age would regularly be doing in the minors.

And then there's Luis Rengifo, who's been wonderful this season in a starting role. He's currently hitting .338 with 17 RBIs and 12 steals, plus he leads the lineup in WAR. Rengifo always seemed like an extra hand thrust into a starting role after the midway point, but now he's proving he's more crucial to the Angels than just an extra infielder, and he's come into his own. Hell, even Jo Adell is finally performing well at an MLB level, he's got 10 homers and 23 RBIs, and he's succeeding as a power guy despite some general versatility issues. 

You probably wouldn't have expected much from a team 10 games under .500, but the Angels actually have a fair amount to work with right now, which explains why the Yankees series isn't an out-and-out rout like we all thought it would be. I'm not exactly expecting it to go as well for the Angels as it did last year, but I do think it'll get them above the A's in the standings.

Coming Tomorrow- He was traded for Nolan Arenado, and somehow he's having a better season than Arenado is. 

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