Two seasons in a row, the Los Angeles Angels picked up the best free-agent hitters in baseball. Last season ended by missing the playoffs while Albert Pujols underperformed for most of the year. This season is off to a terrible start, even after signing Josh Hamilton, as the Angels continue to struggle.
On paper, the Angels might be the best team in baseball. They resemble a roster from a video game after a series of signings and trades that feed off the shortcomings of artificial baseball intelligence. After bringing in arguably the greatest player of this generation, the Angels poached the best hitter from their division rival a year later. Somehow, neither move has panned out.
Pujols joined the Angels and went into a power drought. He posted decent numbers when the season was finally over, but failed to live up to lofty expectations. By signing a huge contract and leaving the only team he’d ever played for — a team he’d won a championship with just months earlier — Pujols put a target on his back. In the end, his Angels fell short of even a playoff berth.
When Hamilton joined the Angels and presumably put two of the best hitters in baseball back to back in the same lineup, expectations were again high. Beyond money spent to fix pitching and fill in holes on a talented roster, the heart of the lineup seemed invincible. This year, Hamilton’s Angels are 11-22 to start the season.
With higher expectations and poor performance, it seems likely that Josh Hamilton and Albert Pujols would have been happier staying put. Both of the franchises they left behind have moved on without them, and the team they’ve gone to now seems to be destroying their careers.