As Angels fans, we have more time on our hands than usual with no baseball for the foreseeable future. Why not take a trip down memory lane and reflect on all of the postseason appearances in Angels franchise history?
Today marks the seventh part in a 10-part series documenting every Angels playoff appearance. I’ll go chronologically, going from the first playoff appearance all the way to their most recent appearance. Next up on the list is the 2007 team that kicked off a three-year stretch of pure dominance in the AL West.
PART 1: The 1979 Season
PART 2: The 1982 Season
PART 3: The 1986 Season
PART 4: The 2002 Season
PART 5: The 2004 Season
PART 6: The 2005 Season
After missing the playoffs in 2006, the Angels won 94 games in 2007 and kicked off a three-year stretch of winning the division. During this stretch, they averaged 97 wins and won the division by an average of 12.3 games a year. While this was partially due to the atrocious play of the rest of the division, the Angels also developed an extremely good and sustainable roster. With the 2002 title a half-decade in the rearview mirror, the Angels started to churn out a ridiculous amount of quality players through the system. As a result, the Angels were set to win a lot and play fun baseball over the next three seasons.
After a down 2006 season (17 fWAR was 31st in team history), the position players rebounded with a strong 2007 performance. The offense’s resurgence (100 wRC+) helped place the Angels in the top-10 in baseball for fWAR (21.6). The offense’s m.o. followed typical Scioscia small-ball style: lots of contact (4th-best average and strikeout rate), very few homers (fourth fewest), and plenty of stolen bases (third-most). As usual with the small-ball teams, the Angels led baseball with their 55 runners caught stealing. Defensively, the Angels finished as baseball’s 10th-best unit according to Total Zone Runs (13).
Once again, Vladimir Guerrero led the way for the Angels offense with his 143 wRC+ and 27 home runs. Perhaps more impressive was Vlad’s production in the clutch when he posted an absurd 185 wRC+ in high-leverage situations. Despite finishing third in AL MVP voting, Vlad wasn’t even the best or second-best position player according to fWAR. Orlando Cabrera led position players with 4.7 WAR due to his 12.6 Ultimate Zone Rating that earned him a Gold Glove. In just 115 games, Chone Figgins posted 4 WAR thanks to his career-best 122 wRC+ while stealing 41 bags. The club had plenty of depth behind those three players, with seven other Angels ranging between 1.3 to 2.7 WAR. Several of those players were part of the next wave of Angels talent, including Howie Kendrick, Mike Napoli, Maicer Izturis, and Casey Kotchman.
The 2007 Angels staff was one of the best in franchise history. By fWAR, they finished sixth in Angels history (20) and finished 10th in ERA- (94) and tied for fifth in FIP- (93). The Angels were also a top-10 unit in baseball in 2007 by those three measures, finishing behind only the Padres and Indians in WAR. 2007 was a role reversal of sorts, where the rotation drastically outperformed the bullpen.
The Angels rotation was the second-best unit in baseball by fWAR (16.7) and FIP- (92) and fourth in ERA- (94). John Lackey (5 WAR) and Kelvim Escobar (4.8 WAR) were two of the legitimate best pitchers in baseball, giving the Angels a combined 419.2 innings of frontline production. Jered Weaver, in his second season, was above-average in both run prevention (87 ERA-) and peripherals (92 FIP-). Rounding out rotation were two youngsters in Joe Saunders (99 ERA-) and Ervin Santana (128 ERA-). In his last season in Anaheim, Bartolo Colon was a disaster (141 ERA-) in 99.1 innings.
After establishing themselves as one of baseball’s elite units, the Angels bullpen took a big step backward in 2007. By WAR (3.4), ERA- (94), and FIP- (96), the Angels bullpen was a thoroughly mediocre unit. Francisco Rodriguez, firmly established as one of baseball’s best relievers, was the only Angels relievers to stand out (1.9 WAR). Scot Shields (0.8 WAR) regressed from an elite performer to a slightly above-average performer. Justin Speier performed extremely well in the run prevention category (64 ERA-). Darren Oliver, Chris Bootcheck, and Dustin Moseley provided depth behind them.
ALDS vs Boston
Once again, the Angels had a dreadful and forgettable ALDS performance against the Red Sox. After getting swept by Boston in the 2004 ALDS, the Angels experienced the same result in 2007. The Angels were shut out in Game 1, lost on a Manny Ramirez walk-off home run over the Green Monster in Game 2 and lost 9-1 on their home turf in Game 3 in Anaheim. The Angels were outscored 19-4 in the series, posting a lousy .503 OPS while Boston hitters posted a .864 OPS. In all fairness to the Angels, Boston was an absolute force in 2007, winning 96 regular-season games and sweeping two teams in the playoffs, including the Rockies in the World Series.