ANAHEIM, Calif. — It was a cold and drizzly day at Angel Stadium on Sunday as the team wrapped their season with a win against the Oakland Athletics, finalizing their year with a 73-89 record, which matches their record from last season.
As the sun sets on the Angels ‘23 season, here are three takeaways from this season and looking into next.
Mike Trout continues to be a team leader
Despite his season being limited to 82 games this year due to a left hamate fracture, Mike Trout has continued to be a role model in the clubhouse and the dugout, said Phil Nevin before game No. 162 on Sunday.
Whether he’s trying to get better, interacting with his teammates or just walking through the door, Nevin said Trout is “a big part of that room,” and for young players like Zach Neto, Logan O’Hoppe and Nolan Schanuel who are launching their careers in the big leagues, it’s important to have veteran players like Trout to look up to and learn from.
“They see Mike. They watch him walk in the room. They watch him put his socks on. They watch everything he does, and Mike sets a great example in there for a lot of guys,” said Nevin. I don’t have to talk to him about stuff on the field, but he’s constantly asking questions trying to get better, and I think that’s a sign of a really good leader.”
Logan O’Hoppe is focused on next year
The young rookie catcher, who underwent surgery to repair a torn labrum in his left shoulder earlier this season, returned in August after missing 103 games, and he’s had quite the comeback.
The 23-year-old backstop has hit nine home runs in September, tied for No.1 in the American League for most home runs hit in the last 30 days. He’s hit 14 total home runs this season, 10 since his return from the injured list.
After hitting his ninth home run of the month on Saturday night, the Angels ultimately lost to the Oakland A’s, 7-3. After the game, O’Hoppe said he feels good physically, but the team needs to do more to find themselves in the win column.
“I’m happy with how I’m feeling now, but you have to put wins on the board. Try to pick apart where you can, get a better result next year and tie things together, but it doesn’t count if we don’t come out with a W,” said O’Hoppe.
Mentioned by Nevin as one of the core players for the future, O’Hoppe said his offseason plans will be completely geared toward achieving a better record next season.
“That’s how I’m going to spend every second this winter,” said O’Hoppe. “It’s going to be all focused on having a better result next year. I’ve said this before, but it’s not just going to make sure I’m getting my lifts in and going to train the right way. It’s going to be everything, making sure everyone in here is doing what they can to do the same thing. I’m going to do everything I can because this is not fun.”
Shohei Ohtani had another historic season
Reflecting on the Angels 2023 season wouldn’t be complete without mentioning Shohei Ohtani. Despite his season coming to an early end due to an oblique injury and having surgery to repair a UCL injury in his elbow, Ohtani strung together another historic season.
He was honored over the weekend with the Angels 2023 Team MVP Award, which is voted on by his teammates.
“Once the camera got on him in the dugout, I’m on the field and you can feel it — just as you do each night when he takes the field. That’s just what he has around him and the aura. He brings a different energy to anywhere he’s at,” said Nevin, who stood on the field beside Ohtani as he accepted the award on Saturday night.
As a hitter, the 2021 AL MVP ranks in the top four in the AL in home runs (44), total bases (325), extra base hits (78), slugging (.654), OPS (1.066), triples (8), runs (102) and batting average (.304). He was first player in the majors to reach 40 home runs this season and the only player to record more than six triples and 34 home runs this season.
Ohtani ended the season with the most home runs in the AL at 44.
“It’s quite an honor and I’m humbled when you think about the great players that have come before me that have played MLB from Japan,” said Ohtani in a statement after Sunday’s game. “Thank you to my teammates, coaching staff and fans that helped me to achieve this goal.”
On the mound, he pitched his first career complete game and first shutout against the Detroit Tigers on July 27, holding the Tigers offense at bay with one hit, three walks and eight strikeouts in the first game of a doubleheader. He also hit two home runs that day.
He was also selected as both a designated hitter and a pitcher for the 2023 All-Star team for the third year in a row, and for the first time in his career, he finished the season with the most popular jersey in MLB.
Although Ohtani’s future in Anaheim remains unknown as he will become a free agent after the 2023 World Series, the impact he’s had on the team and the young players in the clubhouse has been incredible, said Nevin.
“Guys walk into a room, and they want to know what Shohei is doing that day. They watch him eat. They watch everything he does and how he prepares for games and how he practices. If he’s looking at his iPad, I promise you the other kids are going, ‘What’s he looking at? I want to look at the same thing. That’s how I’ll get better.’”