9/12/2013 9:10 P.M. ET
Affiliates far exceed outside expectations
By Alden Gonzalez / MLB.com
TORONTO -- A year that began with the Angels' farm system being ranked the worst in baseball will end with the most successful season ever for the team's Minor League affiliates.
Ironic, isn't it?
With Class A Inland Empire's 15-inning win Wednesday night, each of the Angels' top three affiliates -- Triple-A Salt Lake and Double-A Arkansas being the others -- have qualified for the championship series of their respective leagues for the first time in franchise history.
Some of that is deceiving when it comes to evaluating the young talent in the Angels' system, particularly because the Triple-A club has been mostly filled out by former independent league players and veterans on Minor League contracts. But the Angels have nonetheless seen some good signs out of their young prospects at Double-A and Class A, many of whom are getting a taste of postseason baseball.
The Angels have not had any two affiliates win league titles since 1994 and any three affiliates win league titles since 1991.
Scioscia: Team record hurts Trout's MVP chances
TORONTO -- One would be hard-pressed to find someone more complimentary of Mike Trout's success and skill than his own manager, who sees Trout every day yet still marvels at the things he does at age 22.
But even Mike Scioscia will tell you the Angels' standing should affect Trout's Most Valuable Player Award chances.
"I still feel that unless a player's stats are just so far out ahead of the rest of the pack -- I mean just unbelievable numbers where you're going, 'This is the most incredible season out there by far' -- it should be weighted to where your teams are," Scioscia said.
"If you have four guys with very similar statistics -- some guys might be heavily weighted in home runs and some guys in runs scored -- I do think that the deciding factor will be the impact he had for his team. And a team that he has a year like that for and leads into the playoffs should be part of the equation. I believe that."
Trout's support for MVP is nowhere near as fierce as it became in 2012. Not with the Angels 9 1/2 games out of the second Wild Card spot in the American League -- despite winning 14 of 19 heading into Thursday's series finale at Rogers Centre -- and not with Miguel Cabrera of the Tigers and Chris Davis of the Orioles having fantastic offensive seasons for teams that have been in contention all year.
But some would argue that Trout's 2013 season is even better than the one he had in 2012 -- one that was considered one of the best in baseball history -- and should warrant the MVP no matter the Angels' record.
Entering Wednesday's games, Trout ranked second in the AL in batting average (.336) and third in OPS (1.004), raised his on-base percentage by nearly 40 points (.399 to .437) and could become the first player in his age-21 season or younger to combine 25 homers (currently at 23) with 30 steals (32), 100 runs (101) and 200 hits (180).
Trout also once again easily leads the Majors in wins above replacement. His current score, using FanGraphs.com's system, is 9.9. Second is the Pirates' Andrew McCutchen (7.5), third is Cabrera (7.2) and fourth is Davis (6.9).
That means without Trout, the Angels would be 17 games below .500, rather than just seven.
"Does that impact your season as much?" Scioscia said. "You're out of the playoffs still."
And that logic is the main reason why Trout -- like it or not -- is not expected to finish any better than third in AL MVP voting, with Cabrera (.349 average, 43 homers, 133 RBIs, 1.099 OPS) and Davis (.295 average, 49 homers, 128 RBIs, 1.032 OPS) basically going head to head.
For an example of an exception, Scioscia pointed to Steve Carlton's 1972 season, when he won 27 of the Phillies' 59 games and took home the National League Cy Young Award.
"But it was because his numbers were so far off the charts compared to everyone else that there was no doubt," Scioscia said. "I think when you're talking about Cy Young, MVP, I do think the team's performance does come into the occasion to validate the impact you've had on an organization. … Not everybody looks at it that way, and that's fine."
To progress, Weaver suggests looking back
TORONTO -- Jered Weaver is winding down his eighth season with the Angels. And in that time, the ace right-hander has seen a lot of change, from slap-hitting to power, under-the-radar to grand expectations and, most importantly, winning to losing.
The Angels entered Thursday with 14 wins in their last 19 games but need more than a miracle to avoid a fourth consecutive postseason absence.
In some ways, Weaver believes they need to get back to their old style.
"I think we changed our approach as far as how Angels baseball [was]," Weaver said. "When I first got here, it was doing the little things -- stealing bases, first-to-thirds -- and we didn't really sit back and wait for home runs and things like that. I think that now, we have some guys with some sock in the lineup and guys who hit home runs. The lineup is a little different from that regard.
"At the same time, we still have guys like [Mike] Trout and [Erick] Aybar that steal bases and things like that. But if you look at the lineup in '07 compared to now, it's definitely different."
Weaver, however, still believes the Angels can get back to that way with the present-day personnel. Asked if this current crop is good enough to be a playoff team if given a clean slate next year, the veteran starter said: "Everybody healthy, yes."
But each of the last two seasons, the Angels have dug a deep early hole out of which they have not been able to climb. Last year, they brought in Albert Pujols, lost 25 of their first 43, surged back into the race, then faded down the stretch. This year, they brought in Josh Hamilton, went 9-17 in April and, until recently, have not played any sort of consistent baseball.
"We have a lot of talent in this clubhouse, man; it's just a matter of time before it starts clicking," Weaver said. "I think that the way we used to go about things and the way we go about things now has taken a little bit to get used to. We've seen glimpses of us working together and playing well, and there's obviously been times where it hasn't worked out and we've been struggling. We have to find that happy medium where we're playing good, consistent baseball."
• Weaver said his right forearm, which got a little tight during his start in Minnesota on Monday, feels perfectly fine. He threw a bullpen Thursday and will take the ball against the Astros on Saturday.
• Trout served as the designated hitter for the second time in the Angels' three-game series at Rogers Centre as an extra precaution against the turf. Scioscia said Trout had been occasionally experiencing some tightness in his lower left leg but would play center field basically every day the rest of the season.
• Tommy Hanson had a second straight encouraging start for Triple-A Salt Lake on Thursday, pitching 6 1/3 innings of one-run ball on four hits and four walks while striking out four. But Scioscia said Hanson's "ball-strike ratio wasn't great" and remained non-committal about Hanson's role on the Major League club down the stretch.
Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Gonzo and "The Show", and follow him on Twitter @Alden_Gonzalez. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.