The Los Angeles Angels have been eliminated from playoff contention for quite some time now, with a record of 73-87 and sitting 31.0 games back of the division-leading Houston Astros. Missing the playoffs has become the norm in Anaheim, as the Angels have not clinched an MLB postseason berth since 2014.
Not only that, they have not fielded an above .500 record since 2015. This is their seventh consecutive season finishing below .500 and eighth consecutive season missing the postseason. Luckily, prior to Monday night, there were longer playoff droughts than the Angels.
However, that is no longer the case, as the Philadelphia Phillies clinched their place in the 2022 MLB Playoffs on Monday. They were previously the holders of the longest playoff drought in baseball, having not made it since 2011. Now, that distinction belongs to the Angels and Detroit Tigers.
The Angels and Tigers both last made the playoffs in 2014, where both were swept out of the American League Divisional Series. The Angels were swept by the Kansas City Royals, who would go on to lose to the San Francisco Giants in the World Series.
The Tigers were swept by the Baltimore Orioles, who would lose to the Royals in the ALCS. The Tigers have arguably fallen on even harder times since their last playoff appearance than the Angels.
Like the Angels, the Tigers have had one season above .500 since 2014, as they went 86-75 in 2016, but failed to make the playoffs. However, they have reached 70 wins just three times in the last eight seasons, including an abysmal 47-114 season in 2019.
The Angels have won at least 70 games in every full season since 2014, even winning 80 games three times. But they have been unable to make the necessary moves to get over the hump and into the playoffs.
So as the Angels now own the distinction of longest MLB postseason drought, they enter perhaps the most critical offseason in team history.
Shohei Ohtani is in the final year of arbitration, and is slated to hit free agency next winter. Mike Trout and Anthony Rendon are both in their 30s with injury issues, and some of the team’s highly-touted young prospects have failed to meet expectations.
If they cannot find a way to build a winning roster in 2023, Ohtani could easily leave for a historic free agent contract, and the Angels would be left in an impossible situation. This winter is the time to decide if they want to load up one more time, or wave the white flag altogether and start over.
Patrick Sandoval tosses six scoreless
One of the biggest reasons for hope is the young and talented starting rotation of the Angels, in part led by Patrick Sandoval. In his final start of 2022, he held the Oakland Athletics scoreless over 6.0 innings. Sandoval finishes the season with a 2.91 ERA over 148.2 innings.