Listen, we know it’s tough to catch up on everything happening in the baseball world each morning. There are all kinds of stories, rumors, game coverage and Vines of dudes getting hit in the beans every day. Trying to find all of it while on your way to work or sitting at your desk just isn’t easy. It’s okay, though, we’re going to do the heavy lifting for you each morning and find the things you need to see from within the SB Nation baseball network as well as from elsewhere. Please hold your applause until the end, or at least until after you subscribe to the newsletter.
* * *
Mike Trout has been in the majors for four full seasons now. Despite being MVP-worthy in all four of them, despite putting up an age-20 through age-23 stretch that hasn't been seen since the days of Ted Williams, despite a hefty payroll and Albert Pujols and a strong base of homegrown talent, the Angels have only managed to make the playoffs during one of them. They have finished in third place in the AL West in the other three seasons, with 89, 78, and 85 wins, and were only that close because of Trout: Trout's wins above replacement, while not a direct comparison for actual wins, have come in at 11, 9, 8 and 9 the last four years.
The offense was below-average this season, and the Halos' ERA+ was only better than that of the Mariners and Tigers. That last bit isn't a shock, as the only time the Angels' pitching has been any good under Trout was in 2014, when they won the AL West on the backs of unexpected performances from Garrett Richards and Matt Shoemaker that were not repeated -- even then, their overall pitching was just a little better than average. The offense that has kept them on the cusp of relevancy during Trout's time in the majors is what failed them in 2015, though: this summer was the first with Trout where Los Angeles didn't finish in the top-three in the AL in OPS+, instead finishing 10th.
Maybe they'll be able to finally add the complementary pieces that will help them take advantage of Trout, who is in the process of becoming historically relevant. If they do, it will be thanks to new general manager Billy Eppler, whom the Halos pried from the front office of the Yankees. Of course, Eppler will need owner Arte Moreno to stop meddling, and he'll need manager Mike Scioscia to listen: Jerry Dipoto was a promising GM candidate when he took over the Angels, too, and despite the presence of Trout, he could never quite get it done, maybe thanks to all that other noise.
- One reason the Angels didn't make the playoffs was the Rangers, who surged to the top of the division in spite of all of their major injuries.
- The Rangers mocked the Astros upon clinching, but Houston did manage to secure that second wild card spot and will face the Yankees in Baseball Thunderdome on Tuesday.
- Don Orsillo called his final game as the Red Sox play-by-play announcer, and fans and players saluted him on his way out.
- Former Red Sox manager Terry Francona flipped off the NESN cameras. Again.
- Mark Buehrle failed to reach 200 innings in a season for the first time since becoming a full-time starter in the majors in 2001. On top of that, he won't be on the Blue Jays' ALDS roster.
- On Sunday, Ichiro Suzuki pitched for the first time in his career. The 42-year-old reached 88 miles per hour, and as great as this is, let's hope that it isn't a sign Ichiro is calling it a career.
- It took all 162 games to get there, but we finally know the who and where of the Wild Card round.
- The Tigers could use these seven players to jump right back into contention in 2016.
- There is a lot of talk of "clubhouse chemistry" on the A's all of a sudden. Maybe they just miss Josh Donaldson.
- The Mets announced some of their NLDS roster against the Dodgers. You can't just be releasing all that information at once, you know.