The Los Angeles Angels built their team around a bulk of their offensive firepower being from the right side with Mike Trout, Anthony Rendon, Hunter Renfroe and Taylor Ward all being big pieces to the puzzle.
But with some cold spells and bouts with nagging ailments, manager Phil Nevin has needed to find a bit of patience.
Now in his 6th season in Major League Baseball, Ward broke out last season, posting an .833 on-base plus slugging in 135 games.
This year, he’s only mustered a .616 OPS with four homers, but according to Jeff Fletcher of the O.C. Register, Nevin understands there will be stretches when Ward is battling with himself:
“I’m on record saying between Mike (Trout) and Shohei (Ohtani) I have two legitimate MVP-caliber guys, and (Anthony Rendon) has been in that conversation before,” Nevin said. “There’s no reason with the talent that Taylor has that he’s not in that conversation as well. And I still feel that way. When he’s going right, he’s one of the best hitters in this game. Our job is to get him going right again.”
Ward had a similar start to this season as he did in 2022 when he shot out of the gates and had as good of a run as anyone in MLB. However, as many streaky players are, he had one issue that turned into multiple ones:
“With him, it’s timing,” Nevin said. “As things snowball, you want to swing and swing more. For him, that can be a little bit of a detriment. He’s got such good knowledge of the strike zone, such good swing awareness. He swings at the right pitches when he’s going great.
“And right now he’s kind of caught in between, if you will, whether it’s timing or anything like that. So I know they’re working hard. He’s working hard. Been out here every day. It bothers him, as it would anybody that’s putting on a uniform. Like I said, we’re a better team when Taylor Ward is playing left and he’s at the top of his game. And we expect to get him back there.”
At 28-24, the Angels have kept pace in the American League West even with Ward’s underperformance. As it remains from seasons prior, the Houston Astros have found their stride, and the hot-hitting Texas Rangers have scored more runs than any club in MLB.
Pitching has, and will be, the biggest of Nevin’s worries, but Ward regaining his peak would provide the Angels with a huge force from the right side of the plate.
Mickey Moniak adding spark to Angels lineup
Zach Neto, Livan Soto, Logan O’Hoppe and a number of young arms have supplemented the big league roster. With Taylor Ward going through a bit of a cold spell, the Angels called up Mickey Moniak on May 12, and since then he’s been one of the most productive hitters in baseball.
In his 28 at-bats since his season debut, Moniak has posted a 1.341 OPS with three homers and six RBI. The former first overall pick in the 2016 Draft is finding a rhythm in Nevin’s lineup with consistent playing time.
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