By Bob Garcia IV @bgarcia90 on July 6, 2014
The Los Angeles Angels have been one of the best teams so far this season as they possess the league's best home record, including winning their last nine games in Anaheim. Much of that success has been due to the improved play of the pitching staff and fire power of their offense that is in the top five in several categories. Here are the five biggest surprises from the Angels through the first half of the season.
It has been a complete 180 for the Angels playing at home compared to last season (39-42) where they were atrocious. In 2014, Los Angeles has made it a priority to win their home games as they hold the league's best home record (29-14), and are currently on a nine-game win streak playing in Anaheim. If they can continue their high level of play at home into the second half of the season, it will pay huge dividends come October.
Prior to this season, the 29-year-old had a career era of 4.07, but in 2014, he is in the midst of a career-best season with a 2.31 ERA and 44 strikeouts and 35.0 innings in 41 games played. Jepsen has quietly been one of the Angels' best relievers as he has not allowed a run in all but three of his appearances this season. This also includes not giving up a hit in 25 of the games that he has played in. In simplest terms, he has been lights-out.
Entering the 2014 season, C.J. Cron was regarded as one of the Angels' best prospect and was seen as a year away from making the leap to the majors. Plans quickly changed when David Freese suffered a finger injury in early May, and from that point on, Cron has been nothing short of outstanding with his bat. His quick adjustment to the majors has been a pleasant surprise and he has been a valuable part of the team.
Much of the Angels' turnaround this season can be directly correlated to the improved play of the team's starting pitching. They currently rank fourth in wins (36), third in BAA (.236), fourth in strikeouts (468) and ninth in innings pitched (524.1). It has been quite remarkable given that their staff featured three first-time full-time starters in Garrett Richards, Tylers Skaggs and Hector Santiago.
Garrett Richards entered the season as a full-time starter for the first time in his career, and has surpassed every expectation that was in front of him. Through 17 starts, Richards has a 9-2 record with a 2.81 ERA, 108 strikeouts, 1.07 WHIP and is second in the league with a .194 BAA. The 26-year-old has been the backbone of the pitching staff so far this season and is an early AL Cy Young award candidate.
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