MLB

Fallen Angel: How Los Angeles Completely Wasted Shoei Ohtani

Darren - August 4, 2023
MLB

Fallen Angel: How Los Angeles Completely Wasted Shoei Ohtani

Darren - August 4, 2023

The Athletic

Losing Culture

Few franchises have a losing culture like the Angels. It’s amazing because they also have one of MLB’s highest payrolls but that arguably holds them back. Their big players take up massive chunks of their payroll and this stops them from rebuilding their roster. Mike Trout went on a career-low 0-for-26 streak in 2022 as they hit a 12-game losing streak.

CNN

This was also bad news for Ohtani who was showing his MVP credentials again. But his teammate wasn’t performing at his peak while the Angels wallowed in mediocracy. But there was nothing that he could do except keep doing his best. Ohtani is a consummate professional and may win a World Series one day. But it won’t be with the Angels (via Front Office Sports).

Los Angeles Times

Overdependency

Another issue is that the Angels over-rely on their elite stars, Ohtani and Trout. This became obvious in 2023 after the latter suffered a fractured wrist. Then to make matters worse, third baseman Anthony Rendon also endured injuries. This left the team without depth and poured pressure on Ohtani to continue his elite form.

Los Angeles Times

To be fair to the Japanese icon, he didn’t take a step back as he outlined his MVP credentials. But one player can’t drag a baseball team to glory like in football or basketball. Unfortunately, this is the definition of a team sport and when one of Trout or Ohtani doesn’t play, the Angels’ chances drop rapidly (via The Guardian).

CNBC

Dodgers Glory

The Angels had a huge opportunity to become the biggest franchise in the region. But the Dodgers came along and casually won the World Series in 2020. They defeated the Rays to claim their seventh title. The Angels don’t even make the playoffs despite having two recent AL MVPs on their roster.

ESPN

It’s baffling that they’re so consistently bad and we almost admire them for it. The Dodgers showed the world everything that’s wrong with the Angels and their business model. But they still haven’t learned from their mistakes (via L.A. Times).

New York Times

Weak Leadership

The Angels showed their weakness in 2023 when they held onto Ohtani. He’s going to enter free agency in 2024 and will walk away with his head held high. Everybody knows that L.A. made a mistake because they could have secured their future. But they didn’t want to be the front office that traded Ohtani.

CNN

It’s reached the stage where even their diehard fans want the franchise to set Ohtani free. But they want to pretend that they’re still contenders and think that they’re fooling everyone. The reality is that they’re putting off the inevitable without a lucrative return. It was a garbage decision but we expect nothing less from them (via Forbes).

Yardbreaker

True Two-Way Talent

We already spoke about how Ohtani broke Babe Ruth’s longstanding record in 2023. The Japanese is a genuine two-way talent the likes of which fans have never seen before. It didn’t seem possible that somebody could produce this way in the modern era. Usually, athletes must focus on one discipline to become even half-decent at it.

Sports Illustrated

But Ohtani is making a mockery of this with his outstanding displays. Ohtani became the first player ever to have an eight-RBI game as a hitter and a 13-strikeout game as a pitcher. This would be like if an NFL player threw four touchdown passes and got multiple quarterback sacks in the same game. It shouldn’t happen but Ohtani is special (via Sports Illustrated).

AS USA

Record Breaker

Ohtani’s list of records is seemingly endless. In one game against the Brewers, he set the record for the highest home run. In another against the White Sox, he became the first player to strike out 10 batters and hit two home runs since 1963 (via AS).

Sportico

The Angels effectively have two elite players in one package but haven’t taken full advantage of this. He keeps overproducing but they don’t deliver on their side. It’s a shame that they can have a player who’s so good but never make the playoffs. Unfortunately, it may be too late for the franchise and its superstar.

Deadline

Damaging Baseball

The Angels won’t care about this because it’s not their problem. But they’re damaging baseball by holding back Trout and Ohtani. Imagine how exciting it would be to see this brilliant duo making a playoff run. It’s safe to say that would attract the nation’s attention amid falling viewership.

AP

Baseball is suffering a major decline in popularity compared to the NBA or NFL. Some moments give the sport an injection of adrenaline like Aaron Judge’s home run glory. However, this is a major missed opportunity for MLB and it’s frustrating to see it happen (via Millenial Magazine).

L.A. Times

The Real MVP

Aaron Judge was always going to win the AL MVP award in 2022 after he broke Roger Maris’ record. His 62 homers were enough to prevent Ohtani from claiming consecutive awards. The Japanese won the prize for the first time in 2021 in his breakout year. He didn’t slow down the following season either and many fans thought he deserved it again.

Fansided

Meanwhile, in 2023, he demonstrated why we should rename the award after him. He made massive strides as a pitcher as he proved that he’s equally dangerous in both facets of his game. There’s a reason why the Dodgers, Mets, and Giants are licking their lips about his upcoming free agency (via Fox Sports).

ESPN

Ohtani’s Legacy

Another major problem is that this affects Ohtani’s legacy. It’s ridiculous but people will judge the Japanese star because of his lack of World Series success. There’s no denying that he’ll make it to Cooperstown but it will be much easier for fans to forget him. Short-term memories are very common and it will become fashionable to downplay his success.

San Diego Union-Tribune

The Angels have a responsibility to bring him to the next level and help him to become a contender. But they’re full of empty promises and false dawns. It’s a shame and hopefully he doesn’t have too many regrets when he retires. He will have many individual accolades but not the team glory he craves (via InsideHook).

Axios

World Baseball Classic

Sadly and shockingly, the only time baseball fans saw Ohtani and Trout together in a meaningful game was at the World Baseball Classic in 2023. This time the pair were rivals as they proudly represented their nations on the international stage. Ohtani defeated Trout’s Team USA as Japan pulled off a dramatic victory.

AP

The Japanese hero struck out his teammate in a sensational fairytale ending. Furthermore, the world saw Ohtani’s star power because he received louder cheers than any US player in Miami’s LoanDepot Park. This was a glimpse of what Angels fans could enjoy if their front office handled the team properly (via The Guardian).

Yardbreaker

Desire to Win

Many fans and analysts question the Angels’ desire to win the World Series. Mike Trout also attracted criticism when he signed a new contract with the franchise. They said that he showed a lack of ambition and was part of the problem in L.A. The Angels had an opportunity to trade their star and rebuild the team.

L.A. Times

Sometimes it’s necessary to take a big step back to take multiple steps forward. That’s why all eyes were on Ohtani in 2023. The Japanese star made no secret of his desire to win and gave the team a final chance. However, nobody now trusts Arte Moreno’s motivations or the front office’s business acumen (via Sportskeeda).

Sports Illustrated

Poor Roster Construction

The Angels’ front office couldn’t build a roster to save their lives. They make first-round picks with the logic of a drunk man flinging darts at a board. We must go back to 2009 when they last made a brilliant selection. Mike Trout was a hit but since then it’s been one disaster after another (via Pitcher List).

CNN

Meanwhile, we could write all day about their free agents and trades. Over the years, they’ve gone all-in on big names like Josh Hamilton and Albert Pujols. But there are two problems with this approach and it’s held them back. First, the stars underperform or they hit their salary cap hard and this holds them back.

Reuters

No Support

Ohtani can have a brilliant record-breaking performance but the Angels still find ways to show they’re inept. They failed to provide him with the support he needs to close out games and beat opponents. For example, the Halos lost against the Royals in 2022 after Ohtani drove them to extras.

Los Angeles Times

He went three-for-four with a dazzling display but this didn’t inspire his teammates. They went seven for 37 at the plate and showed why he can’t do it by himself. This is a small sample of the uphill struggle Ohtani faces in L.A. every week. He deserves better, and hopefully one day he’ll achieve it (via Fansided).

Money INC

Empty Promises

There’s a good reason why Arte Moreno is one of the least-popular Major League owners right now. The man is full of empty promises and fails to deliver when it looks impossible to fail. Los Angeles had so much potential as he poured money into the team. But there was no vision behind the crazy spending.

Sports Illustrated

Then he went full General Custer by going all-in on Ohtani in 2023. He knew that the Japanese star could walk away as a free agent after the summer. It left the team with a massive and potentially generation-defining choice. However, nobody trusts Moreno to do the right thing because he never does (via Belly Up Sports).

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