It’s odd to think of a team that has been around for 53 years as an “expansion team,” but that’s what the Angels are. They, along with the version of the Washington Senators which became the Rangers, started play in 1961, representing the first expansion in Major League Baseball since the American League came online in 1901. Then came expansion in 1962 with the Mets and the Colt .45s (Astros) and 1969 with the Expos, Pilots (Brewers), Royals and Padres. Then 1977 with the Mariners and Jays, followed by the Marlins-Rockies in 1993 and the Devil Rays-Diamondbacks in 1998.
But despite all of that expansion history, no expansion team sat at .500 or above as play began last night. With their win over the Blue Jays last night, the Angels are now even at 4,272 wins and 4,272 losses.
Now, they aren’t the first expansion team to break .500. As Dbacks’ Vice President Josh Rawitch noted on Twitter last night, Arizona was 652-644 between 1998 and 2005, getting over the .500 hump and staying there for a time after their first couple of seasons. Such early success for an expansion team is unusual, however, and they have since sunk below sea level. The Angels were above .500 twice in their first four seasons, but they had not been at .500 in the aggregate since they were 1-1 following the second day of the 1961 season. They’ve spent over 50 years climbing out of the hole they dug. Pretty cool.
Also cool, at least if you’re an Angels fan: they have the second best record in all of baseball this year and, since May 7, they top everyone with a 36-19 mark. This is a very good Angels team right now, folks.
Yesterday Mike Trout left the Marlins-Angels game after hurting his thumb while sliding head first into second base. After the game the Angels talked about it as if it were just a sprain. Trout had an MRI today, however, and the diagnosis is far worse: he has a torn thumb ligament.
While a treatment option has not yet been chosen, surgery is a possibility. A certainty is that he’ll miss, at the very least, several weeks of play. He has been placed on the disabled list for the first time in his career.
Trout, the reigning AL MVP and, without question, the best player in baseball, is batting .337/.461/.742 with 16 home runs, 36 RBI, 36 runs scored, and 10 stolen bases in 206 plate appearances this season. Even with the one of the weaker supporting casts in baseball, Trout had the Angels near .500 and in at least arguable contention in the AL West.
Without him, they are likely sunk. Without him, baseball is worse off.
SAN FRANCISCO — Nationals slugger Bryce Harper and San Francisco reliever Hunter Strickland both landed punches to the head during a wild brawl that erupted Monday after a hit by pitch.
Harper was hit in the right hip by Strickland’s 98 mph fastball in the eighth inning with Washington ahead 2-0.
Harper pointed the bat toward Strickland, charged the mound and fired his batting helmet wide of the pitcher. They started to swing away and they each connected as the benches and bullpens emptied.
At least two Giants players forcefully dragged Strickland from the middle of the brawl all the way into the dugout. Harper and Strickland were both ejected.
In the 2014 NL Division Series, Harper hit two home runs off Strickland. After the star’s second shot, in Game 4, he stared at Strickland as he rounded the bases.