The Los Angeles Angels have high hopes for 2022.
The team made some key additions in free agency before the MLB lockout went into effect, and the hope is that some of those moves will help L.A. reach the playoffs.
A trip to the postseason in 2022 would be the Angels’ first since 2014.
It’s been too long, especially considering how much superstar talent the club has on its roster.
Today, we’re going to look at a few players who will be crucial to whether or not the Angles have a successful 2022 campaign.
These guys are L.A.’s X-factors.
3. Aaron Loup
The 2022 season will be Aaron Loup’s first in an Angels uniform.
Aaron Loup deal with Angels, per source: Two years, $17M.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) November 22, 2021
He put together a fantastic 2021 campaign with the New York Mets, and the Angels are hoping to see more of that from him in the upcoming season.
L.A.’s bullpen was a disaster last season, as the unit posted an ERA of 4.59.
In order for the relief staff to improve in 2022, Loup is likely going to have to be a key piece of the formula.
The lefty certainly has what it takes.
In 2021, he registered a tiny 0.95 ERA over 65 appearances.
He also had a 2.45 FIP, which suggests his ERA actually could have easily landed somewhere in the mid 2s, but even still, an ERA in that ballpark is something the Angels would take in a heartbeat.
Loup is still trying to win the first ring of his career, and he’d surely love to get it with L.A. in 2022.
2. Noah Syndergaard
It might not be fair to expect Noah Syndergaard to look like his old self in his first full season back from Tommy John surgery, but for L.A. to make the playoffs in 2022, the righty is going to have to deliver.
BREAKING: Right-hander Noah Syndergaard and the Los Angeles Angels are in agreement on a one-year, $21 million deal, pending physical, sources tell ESPN.
The Angels bolster their staff with the highest-upside arm on the market — and pay a heavy price, plus a second-rounder.
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) November 16, 2021
The Angels did not have a good rotation situation in 2021, as the staff pitched to an ERA of 4.78.
That ERA ranked 22nd in all of baseball.
Syndergaard is going to have to help the group turn things around.
It’s no secret what he’s capable of.
The flamethrower maintained a 2.93 ERA, 132 ERA+, 2.66 FIP, and 1.13 WHIP over the first four seasons of his career.
But after a surgery like Tommy John, only time will tell which version of Syndergaard the Angels get in the upcoming season.
1. Mike Trout
Mike Trout tops this list for a very simple reason: His health could be the difference between the Angels’ 2022 season being a success or failure.
He was limited to just 36 games in the 2021 season, he missed a few weeks in the 2019 season, and he missed 48 games in the 2017 season.
Obviously, when Trout is on the field, he’s a force to be reckoned with.
He has a career OPS of 1.002, OPS+ of 176, and he averages a ridiculous bWAR of 8.7 per 650 plate appearances.
Mike Trout's first bomb of the season was 110 mph off the bat
(via @Angels) pic.twitter.com/GdxLqisGGt
— B/R Walk-Off (@BRWalkoff) April 5, 2019
But with all of that said, it’s hard for any player to make an impact from the dugout.
The three-time MVP needs to find a way to steer clear of injuries in 2022 and contribute for the Angels throughout the full 162 (or close to it).
If he can do so, L.A. will be a fun team to watch.NEXT: Should The Angels Regret The Albert Pujols Signing?