2024 Los Angeles Angels O/U: Why the Angels Will hit the OVER

The 2023 Los Angeles Angels were a letdown of epic proportions. They finished with a 73-89 record and were fourth in the AL West, the fifth time they ended in fourth place in the last six years. At the trade deadline, when it seemed likely that they would miss the playoffs again, they elected not to trade two-way superstar Shohei Ohtani. He left during the offseason and signed with the rival Dodgers, breaking the hearts of Angels fans everywhere.

To make matters worse, Mike Trout, Anthony Rendon, and Taylor Ward, the team’s best three hitters not named Ohtani, only played in 222 games combined. The pitching staff was also disappointing, finishing with a 4.64 ERA, the 12th-worst ERA in the American League.

Most people don’t see the Angels getting any better this season, especially without Ohtani and with an aging Mike Trout. FanDuel has set the Angels’ season win total at 72.5 wins, but here is why the Angels will win OVER 72.5 wins in 2024.

Why the Angels Will Win More than 72.5 Games in 2024

Mike Trout’s return to dominance

Trout is a former Rookie of the Year, a nine-time Silver Slugger, an 11-time All-Star, and a three-time MVP. He has done it all in his time with the Angels, except win in the playoffs (But that’s a conversation for another time.) Unfortunately, he’s struggled with injuries in each of the last three seasons and is entering his age 33 season.

But Trout is completely healthy now and looking to return to the player he was just a few years ago. Despite playing in just 82 games last season, Trout still performed well: he slashed .263/.367/.490, hit 18 homers, and was worth 2.9 WAR.

His advanced metrics paint his season in an ever-better light. According to Baseball Savant, his expected weighted on-base average was .389, which ranked in the 95th percentile of all MLB players. His barrel rate and hard hit percentage were also in the 95th percentile, his chase rate was in the 92nd, and his sprint speed was in the 96th!

So, his physical abilities to hit the ball hard, run fast, and make good swing decisions are clearly still intact. The only roadblock preventing Trout from reaching his MVP-candidate-level production will be injuries, and if Trout can avoid injuries, then he’ll help the Angels exceed expectations and make it to at least 73 wins.

The Improvement of Young Players

In the last two years, the Angels have had three very young and exciting players join the big league roster: Logan O’Hoppe, Zach Neto, and Nolan Schanuel. The 24-year-old O’Hoppe was acquired in a trade with Philadelphia for Brandon Marsh and he was ranked as the Angels’ top prospect and the 67th-best in baseball. O’Hoppe only played in 51 games last season after suffering a torn labrum that sidelined him for most of 2023.

He’ll be the starting catcher this year and by all accounts is a very mature young player and is a strong leader, which is something the Angels are looking for in someone other than Trout. He plays solid defense behind the dish and displayed good power last year, hitting 14 home runs. Although he didn’t have enough at-bats to qualify for the leaderboard, he had a 15.6% barrel rate and a 46.7% hard-hit rate. (Both of these are elite or near-elite level numbers. For reference, Trout’s rates were 16% and 51.9%.) Again, O’Hoppe will need to stay healthy, but his presence will do wonders for the Angels.

Neto and Schanuel are younger and less proven, but will both be heavily relied upon this season. Neto is still just 23 and he played good defense in his 84 games in 2023. He also dealt with a back injury that visibly impacted his hitting ability late in the year, but he has all the tools to be an above-average MLB shortstop.

Schanuel was drafted in June of last year and debuted just two months later. He started his career getting on base safely in 27 straight games, the fourth-longest streak since 1900. He finished with a slash line of .275/.402/.330 and walked more than he struck out (20:19), which was pretty remarkable for a guy who had been facing college pitchers just a few months prior.

He has a big frame but only hit one home run last season, so the Angels will want him to focus on hitting the ball harder this year, but he has already shown he can handle big-league pitching.

Mickey Moniak and Jo Adell are two other young players who could greatly help the Angels this season. Moniak struck out far too much last year, but he put up solid numbers and figures to see a lot of playing time in the outfield. Adell, who is out of options and could be traded if he doesn’t make the major league roster, is still just 24 and was a former top prospect. If he can tap into his potential, he could also be a key contributor on a solid Angels team in 2024.

The Pitching Staff Finally Steps Up

For years now, experts and fans alike have been saying that if the Angels could just get some pitching, they should make the playoffs. Well, this year there is no expectation that the Halos will even sniff the postseason. However, the LA pitching staff may be what determines just how many games the team can win this year.

Reid Detmers is the only starter with ace potential, but he’s been inconsistent in his first three years as an Angel. He took a step back in 2023 after improving in 2022, a year in which he threw a no-hitter and posted a 3.77 ERA as a 22-year-old. His growth into a bonafide ace or number-two starter would help the Angels fill the gaping Ohtani-shaped hole at the top of the rotation.

The middle of the rotation will be manned by Patrick Sandoval and Griffin Canning, both of whom can and should be number-three starters. If they can perform as they did last season, and if Canning can remain healthy, they will be reliable innings-eaters at the very least.

The bullpen is where the Halos made most of their offseason additions, signing players like Robert Stephenson, José Cisnero, Matt Moore, and Luis Garcia to shore up a ‘pen that had the sixth-worst ERA in 2023. Stephenson will be a late-inning or setup pitcher and could move into the closer role if Carlos Estévez struggles. With all of these new additions, the Angels look to be much improved in the bullpen and will have depth if they lose players to injuries.

Final Thoughts

The Angels aren’t expected to play well in 2024, but FanDuel’s win projection line of 72.5 seems pretty low. The Halos still have one of the game’s best players in Mike Trout, multiple young bats who will improve and lengthen the lineup, and a solid collection of pitchers. Competing for the playoffs might be a stretch, but if things break just right and the team stays healthy, Los Angeles could reach 80 wins this year and will certainly break the 72.5 threshold.

Main Image: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

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