Here's a simple rule for baseball - a team that has the best player in baseball and a seemingly bottomless appetite for payroll should not be so forgettable and frustratingly average as the Los Angeles Angels are. It's just wrong. And, frankly, it shouldn't be possible. The team formerly known as Anaheim sits right at .500 at 38-38 at the moment, and never has there been a more perfect record for a team. They win just as much as they lose, they don't seem to care either way, and they are in no hurry to do anything about it. It's a total mess.
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Sure, it's not an Oakland or Philadelphia mess, but this is almost worse. At least fans of those teams can point clearly to why they are so often unwatchable. When bettors can't be bothered to even remember this team exists they are fairly tough to deal with. They aren't bad enough to consistently fade, but they are far from good enough to trust with any regularity. Betting on the Angels is like flipping coins for money. Not my idea of fun. So, what's going on in Anaheim? And what does it mean for bettors in the second half? Here are five factors to ponder when considering those questions:
Lack of consistency: This team hasn't won as many as four in a row since May 17 and last won three straight on May 23. The good news is that they have only lost as many as three in a row once in that stretch. But for the last month-plus they have been incapable of getting any momentum rolling at all, and every time they make progress they give it right back. It's hard to get anywhere when you pair each step forward with a step back.
What are they?: Teams that shine tend to do at least one thing very well. This team isn't horrible at anything, but they don't shine, either. As it stands today they sit 10th in the 15-team American League in runs scored and seventh in runs allowed. Fittingly, their run differential sits a +3 - almost dead average and exactly middle of the pack in eighth in the AL. This team completely lacks an identity - something that is evident every time they take the field. It's not that tough of a formula to figure out - the three AL division leaders are the three best defensive teams in the league, and they all have elite-level offenses. Average inputs only get you average results.
Mike Trout: It obviously hasn't helped that Trout has been hurt, but you can't blame their issues on that - the team was underwhelming even when he was in the lineup the last couple of years. Really, his absence has been the least of the issues for this team. He was injured on May 28, and the team fell to 26-27 that day. That means that they have gone a slightly better 12-11 since he has been out. Obviously I'm not suggesting that the team is better off without their perennial MVP in the lineup - that would be an insane thought. It's just that it is as lazy to suggest that Trout's absence is the issue as it is to think that his return, which seems to be close, will do anything to improve this team significantly.
Mike Scioscia: I have nothing but respect for Scioscia, and I admire the loyalty the team has shown him in this era. The fact is, though, that he has been in the job since 2000, and it only stands to reason that some of what he is saying could be getting old. He's 16 full seasons removed from his World Series win, and aside from that 2014 season that featured a division win and a limp playoff sweep to the Royals the team has been consistently lousy since 2010. I don't think it is all his fault, but it would be a real shame for this team to wake up in a few years and realize that they have wasted the best years of Mike Trout's career. Sometimes change for the sake of change is what is needed, and after more than 2,800 games in charge it could be the time for new ideas. It goes beyond him to the front office, too. Scioscia runs the ship, and he won a showdown with Jerry DiPoto which saw the GM forced out in 2015. What this team is doing isn't working, and change simply has to include Scioscia. He'd e unemployed for about two minutes, and the change of scenery would likely be as good for him as the team.
Betting performance: The Angels are about as useful at the betting windows as you would expect. They have generated only a small profit on the moneyline this year, and at 34-38 on the totals they have done nothing more than break even on the "under". This team is as inspiring at the betting window as they are on the diamond.
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Read more articles by Trevor Whenham
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