For a team that boasts Mike Trout and Shohei Otani, the LA Angels are definitely losing a lot of games: 61 so far and just 44 wins.
But Thursday night’s game was supposed to be especially annoying.
Hosting an even worse Oakland Athletics, the Angels received two homers from Otani and one each from Kurt Suzuki, Taylor Ward, Joe Adell, Jared Walsh and Mickey Moniak. Seven in total, setting a club record set in 2003.
And still they lost.
How could this happen? How could versions of this happen so often that tweet about the lack of prospects of the team despite its generation of stars, has become a hallmark of the franchise?
Well, it certainly didn’t help that all seven of Thursday’s explosions were single shots—another first for a team that’s grown accustomed to its singularity. Even so, seven runs should be enough to win most ball games. But the Angels certainly gave up eight, most of them in the third inning with six runs. Janson Junk, the team’s starter, pitched two and third innings and is credited with six earned runs.
Eighty-five teams have hit seven homers per game, and their record is 79-6. Although games dragging back before the victory of the Philadelphia A in 1921, all the defeats occurred in our time, since 1995. Indeed, the Minnesota Twins lost to the Detroit Tigers in a seven-goal game 17–14 just last year, and even during the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, the Toronto Blue Jays managed to lose despite seven long balls. .
The team had eight or more homers all 31 times, thankfully winning the game, though one of them, the 2006 Braves, took 11 innings to beat the Cubs 13-12 at Wrigley Field. The record for most home runs in a game is still held by the 1987 Blue Jays. who spanked 10 Against the Baltimore Orioles on one occasion that same season, Ernie Witt hit three balls. The score then was more like expected: 18-3.
For many traditionalists who don’t like the way baseball is changing, Thursday night’s game would be a prime example: lots of home runs, but few base runners. The Angels had only two other hits in the game, a single and a double, and drew only two times and scored nine times.
“I guess they always say single home runs don’t beat you, but you feel like if you hit seven you can,” Angels interim manager Phil Nevin told reporters after the game. “It didn’t work for us.”
The team’s batting average per game, .257, was the lowest in a game with seven or more homers. A typical average in such games is around 0.400.
The Angels are slightly above average in homers this season, but are fifth last in scoring. While Trout (currently on the injured list), Otani and Ward are hitting, the rest of the team is putting up boring numbers.
Of the 13 batters with 100 plate appearances, eight are hitting below .250, and some just a little below. Don’t pick on Walsh because there are plenty of candidates, but a first baseman hitting .231 with 20 walks at this point in the season won’t win you too many games despite his Thursday home run.
Angels are below average in all positions except pitching. WAR version from Baseball Referenceexcept, unsurprisingly, center field (usually Trout) and the designated hitter (usually Ohtani).
And, as this viral tweet suggests, Otani’s massive play hardly guarantees the Angels a win. Thursday’s game was his 11th two-homer game in major tournaments. Angels total 6-5 in those games.
The chance to see Otani and Trout means there are few teams that will grab the attention of neutral fans more than the Angels. But these viewers are getting used to seeing two great players, a decent number of home runs, but few wins.