The Best in the League

World Series predictions. Graph by Nicole Troung.

World Series predictions. Graph by Nicole Troung.

Nicole Truong, Photojournalist

Watching baseball is a paradigmatic American pastime. Almost every person of every age, gender, and race enjoys the excitement, intensity, and thrill of watching this universal game and cheering and supporting his/her favorite team. This cosmopolitan, extant sport serves not only as an enjoyable pastime, but also as a means of bridging the gap between persons of different cultures. The sport includes players from several different countries, including Cuba, Japan, the Dominican Republic, Canada, and America. Fans watching this beautiful game all experience one unifying feeling: solidarity with the team and excitement from each play; there are no language barriers, no cultural differences, only baseball. And so, being an immense fan of baseball, there is no greater reward or feeling than to experience and view the success of your favorite team as they head into the postseason.


The last time the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim won the World Series was in 2002. The last time they won their division was in 2009. Now, in 2014, the Angels have not only won their division, but they have also clinched the best record in all of baseball with a 98-64 record, thus ending their five year playoff drought.


The Angels clinched the American League West division title over two weeks ago now and recently clinched the best record in baseball with the Orioles’ loss last week. With this, the Angels gain home field advantage in the upcoming American League Division Series as well as the American League Championship Series, should they advance this far. Because the American League won the MLB All-Star Game, the Angels will also receive home field advantage in the World Series should they advance to this final series. However, the past season and the road to the playoff was not a simple task; it was an arduous path filled with many obstacles and challenges, yet the Angels’ response to these challenges to gain the division title is the true story.


The Angels’ season did not commence well, as the team opened their season with a loss to the Seattle Mariners. The team also lost hitting coach Don Baylor on opening night after he broke his right femur catching the ceremonial first pitch. However, the Angels’ surmounted these initial challenges by finishing the first half of the baseball season 57-37 as they headed into the All-Star break. However, after this break, the Angels’ pitching struggles, already highlighted by C.J. Wilson’s inconsistent pitching, worsened as they lost first-year starting pitching phenom Garrett Richards to a torn patella injury. This, combined with left-field slugger Josh Hamilton’s hitting struggles, hurt the Angels’ baseball as they lost their first series after the All-Star break. Through these struggles, Mike Trout, arguably the best player in baseball and a 5-tool player, continued to consistently produce runs, RBI’s, home runs, and hits along with his stellar defense in center field. Trout leads the league in total bases, with 338 total bases, and runs scored with 115 runs. He is also second in the league with total RBI’s with 111, fourth in the league with home runs with 36, third in the league in slugging percentage with a .561 average, and fifth in the league with on-base percentage plus slugging with a .939 average. He is a front runner for the AL MVP is was runner up for the past two seasons. His outstanding play combined with the increased production of Albert Pujols, Howie Kendrick, and Erick Aybar allowed the Angels to score the most runs in baseball with 773 total runs. This paved the Angels’ way to the playoffs.


The American League Division Series started this past Thursday, October 2. The Angels play the Kansas City Royals in this five game series. The team aspires to win the pennant and the World Series and have many seasoned veterans to aid in this process, including Albert Pujols who enters his eighth playoff race and who has won two World Series Championships. Asked to give advice to his teammates, Pujols stated, “Let the game come to you. Don’t try to force things.”


With several teams headed into the playoffs, including the Baltimore Orioles, the Washington Nationals, the Detroit Tigers, the Los Angeles Dodgers, the San Francisco Giants, and many other teams, students at Yorba Linda High School were polled as to which team they believed would win the World Series. The results are shown in the beside graph.