Now, here’s something you don’t see every day.
The Los Angeles Angels and the Los Angeles Dodgers are roughly equal in the standings. Starting the week, the Halos had 36 wins and the Blue Crew 37.
Historically, it hasn’t often been that close. Since 1961, when the (major league) Angels came into the Los Angeles area market, the Dodgers have won five World Series rings and the Angels one. The last winning record for the Dodgers was, uh, last year. As for the Orange County team, there hasn’t been a finish above .500 since 2015.
Of course, things haven’t always been all bad for the Halos. From 2002 to 2014, the Angels won a World Series, an American League pennant and six AL West titles. So what was the difference between then and now?
Two things stand out: depth and relief pitching. The Angels had lights-out closers in Troy Percival and Francisco (K-Rod) Rodriguez. If the Angels had a lead going into the eighth or ninth innings, fans could light up (metaphorically) a victory cigar because they knew they were just a few strikes away lighting up the Halo.
The other thing recent Angel teams have lacked is depth. Aside, perhaps, from Vladimir Guerrero, the teams of that era didn’t have superstars. But they had solid hitting up and down the lineup with Tim Salmon, Troy Glaus, Garrett Anderson and Torri Hunter, etc.
Recent Angels’ teams have two future Hall-of Famers in Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani, but not much else. This year, finally, there’s more talent spread throughout the batting order like Hunter Renfro (11 home runs), Brandon Drury (10) and Gio Urshela (.300).
Carlos Estevez is looking the best, as opposing batters are hitting .194 against him. If he keeps that up and finds a compadre or two in the bullpen, it could be a very nice season.
They might even do better than the Dodgers.