Los Angeles Angels 2024 MLB Spring Training Storylines

From the bullpen to behind the plate, these are some of the things to watch this spring with the Los Angeles Angels

TEMPE, ARIZONA - FEBRUARY 24: Manager Ron Washington(L) of the Los Angeles Angels smiles against the Los Angeles Dodgers during a spring training game at the Peoria Sports Complex on February 24, 2024 in Tempe, Arizona. (Photo by Masterpress/Getty Images)

Stuck in a tough American League West and without Shohei Ohtani in the lineup, there are plenty of reasons to shrug off the Los Angeles Angels before the 2024 season even begins.

However, if you’re looking for a team with intangibles led by a new manager (Ron Washington) who could well prove just how important a change in culture can be in a clubhouse, then the Halos may very well be your late-night must-watch this season.

While we are in the early stages of spring training and everyone is still in the best shape of their collective lives, let’s break down some of the things to watch in Tempe as the Angels look to form their identity in Cactus League play.

Run Angels Run!

Sure, it’s early, but the Angels have found their wings on the basepaths in Arizona.

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Through their first five games of Cactus League play, the Angels were second among all MLB teams with 11 stolen bases. Yes, it’s early and yes it’s spring training, but the Halos running certainly feels different than last year’s Angels team that finished 29th among MLB’s 30 squads with just 72 swipes all season.

While young prospect Nelson Rada paces the Angels with three stolen bases, there are interesting names who already have stolen a base before the calendar turned to March.

That list includes Mickey Moniak, Logan O’Hoppe … and Anthony Rendon. These are all players who will be playing when the 162-game schedule begins, so perhaps there is something to watch regarding the attitude on the bases in Anaheim.

What can we expect from the Angels? Well, Washington and new third base coach Eric Young Sr. both came to Anaheim from Atlanta this offseason and the Braves ranked 10th overall last season in stolen bases (yes, thanks in large to Ronald Acuna Jr’s record-setting 73 swipes).

In an interview with Sam Blum of the Athletic, new first base coach Bo Porter spoke about why the Angels are prioritizing being a threat on the basepaths this season.

“It’s understanding that when the other team has to defend every aspect of the game, your team becomes dangerous. You only allow a team to relax when you become predictable.” Porter explains.

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Behind the Plate

I mentioned O’Hoppe above, and this is certainly a season where Angels fans are hoping to get a firm grasp of what the 24-year-old backstop can bring to the team.

O’Hoppe got in just 182 at-bats last season thanks in part to a shoulder injury suffered in late April. When he returned, it took him a bit to get back on track, hitting just .111 in 36 August at-bats. However, the numbers in September (.261/.292/.587 slash line in 92 September at-bats) were enough to whet the appetite of Angels fans for what he could do this season.

One of the biggest things to watch during Cactus League play is the potential power that O’Hoppe could display in 2024 for the Halos. In 51 games last season, he smacked 14 home runs. Extend that out over 162 games and that’s a 44-homer season. Will we see flashes of that power this spring?

Is Carlos Estevez Safe as the Angels’ Closer?

It would likely take an injury or a complete fall of a statistical cliff this spring for the 31-year-old right-hander to not be labeled as the closer in Anaheim on Opening Day. Washington has said that Estevez is his closer, so the conversation is likely moot … for now.

However, there is still plenty to watch after a second half of 2023 where Estevez posted a 6.59 ERA in 27.1 innings. Estevez chalked up the fall from earning a spot in the All-Star Game to “thinking too much” in the midst of what was a tough second half for not only him, but the Angels as a whole.

There are new faces in the Angels bullpen this spring, including Robert Stephenson, who was signed to a three-year, $33 million deal this offseason. After posting some eye-popping numbers with Tampa Bay in 2023 (2.35 ERA in 38.1 innings while striking out 60 batters and walking just eight), Stephenson will be a high-leverage reliever at Washington’s disposal.

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If all goes well, a rebuilt bullpen will be the set up pieces for Estevez. If Estevez struggles this spring, however, expect more questions to Washington about just how long the leash might be on his closer in March and April.

Jo Adell’s Future and His Battle with Aaron Hicks

I talked plenty about what may happen with Adell and the battle for playing time between him and Aaron Hicks in this recent article.

Adell has shown well early, going 2-for-6, with those two hits being a double and triple. He’s plated a pair of runs and also struck out twice, so the storylines of flashes of brilliance undercut by the whiff are still there.

Hicks, meanwhile, also posted an early double and triple while going 3-for-4 out of the gate. He also made one of the highlight reel throws of the early spring.

Can Zach Plesac Find His Stride?

The Angels signed the 28-year-old Plesac to a one-year deal, banking on the hope that his 2023 season with the Cleveland Guardians was an anomaly.

After making 49 starts for the Guardians in 2021 and 2022, totaling a 4.49 ERA/4.59 FIP/1.258 WHIP in 274.1 innings, Plesac crashed in 2023, making just five starts while struggling to a 7.59 ERA and 1.969 WHIP. However, with a 4.47 FIP, during that season, there is the thought that Plesac encountered more than his share of bad luck.

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Los Angeles is counting on that, signing him in the hopes that he can add depth to the rotation or perhaps work in long relief. Plesac is in the mix for a rotation spot, but struggled in his first outing of spring for the Halos, giving up two runs on three hits in 2.0 innings.

Watching how Plesac fits into the pitching mix heading into the season will be interesting, especially knowing he has a minor league option available.


While much of the attention may fall on Mike Trout’s health or Anthony Rendon’s commitment level this spring, there are plenty of other underlying storylines that will determine exactly what Ron Washington will be working with when the season begins on March 28 in Baltimore.