Shohei Ohtani may need locked up the American League’s Most Beneficial Participant Award on Sunday, with seven dominant innings towards a visiting Seattle Mariners crew nonetheless combating for a spot within the postseason.
However his Los Angeles Angels in the end misplaced for the 82nd time in 2021, solidifying one thing else: a sixth consecutive dropping season in Anaheim, California.
4 of these have include Ohtani on the crew, the final of which occurred whereas he navigated arguably essentially the most uniquely spectacular season in baseball historical past. After Sunday’s 5-1 loss, Ohtani — ineligible free of charge company till after the 2023 season — was requested if he desires to stick with the Angels long run.
“I actually just like the crew,” Ohtani mentioned by way of his interpreter, including that he hasn’t spoken with the group a couple of potential extension. “I like the followers, I like the ambiance of the crew, however greater than that, I wish to win. That is the largest factor for me. I am going to depart it at that.”
Ohtani’s feedback got here a day after Mike Trout, who hasn’t performed since Could due to a hard calf damage, expressed urgency along with his want to beef up the roster, saying partly: “This offseason goes to be huge. We’ve some huge cash to spend.” Earlier within the week, Angels supervisor Joe Maddon expressed comparable, extra pointed frustration.
“This may’t proceed to go on,” Maddon instructed reporters earlier than Wednesday’s sport. “We will not yearly be on this place. This group is healthier than that. We deserve higher than that. We’ve to exit and earn it.”
The Angels acquired minimal manufacturing from the high-priced Trout, Anthony Rendon and Justin Upton in 2021 — to not point out Albert Pujols, who was launched earlier than the tip of Could — however an absence of high quality pitching continues to be a serious downside
Ohtani, at the very least, made important contributions on each side. He threw seven innings of one-run ball towards the Mariners, placing out 10 batters and strolling none to decrease his ERA to three.18 and lift his strikeout whole to 156. Offensively, Ohtani — with two triples on Saturday and 11 walks over the earlier three video games — is batting .258/.371/.595 with 45 house runs and 24 stolen bases. His 7.9 FanGraphs wins above substitute leads the majors.
And but, regardless of unprecedented contributions, the Angels rank 17th in runs per sport and 22nd in ERA.
“If nothing modifications on the crew,” Ohtani mentioned, “I feel it is gonna be actually exhausting to be in playoff rivalry.”
The Angels may have Pujols’ contract off the books this offseason, however they are going to be paying Trout, Rendon and Upton a mixed $99.45 million in 2022. (Upton will probably be within the last 12 months of his contract by then.) The Angels have a necessity at shortstop, however most significantly, individuals all through the game have mentioned, they should revamp their bullpen and add two front-line beginning pitchers if they honestly wish to contend.
Max Scherzer, Clayton Kershaw, Justin Verlander, Robbie Ray and Noah Syndergaard are among the many free-agent beginning pitchers who will quickly develop into out there. The Angels additionally might use both Jo Adell or Brandon Marsh to amass pitching assist, however the two younger outfielders have struggled within the main leagues.
The Angels have been one among baseball’s most profitable franchises within the 2000s, however they’ve made the playoffs solely as soon as over these previous 12 years — regardless of having Trout, arguably the sport’s greatest participant, for the overwhelming majority of that point.
“It’s extremely irritating, very disappointing,” Ohtani mentioned of lacking out on the postseason. “I all the time stay up for being within the playoff race on the finish and making an attempt to speak in regards to the playoffs with my teammates. I all the time give it some thought, so, yeah, it has been disappointing.”