Despite having the best player in baseball and a resurgent Albert Pujols, the Los Angeles Angels are off to a disappointing 11-12 start, failing to take advantage of spring injuries to Texas and Oakland that seemingly had opened a window of opportunity. Even with all their big contracts, the Angels haven't been more than a single game over .500 since the end of 2012.
Thanks to the otherworldly performance of Mike Trout, along with Pujols, Howie Kendrick and friends, the problem hasn't been the offense, but rather a pitching staff that ranks in the bottom half in ERA, FIP and xFIP. Not that this is necessarily a surprise, of course; the Angels' pitching staff was a big problem last year, and even with the additions of Hector Santiago, Tyler Skaggs and Joe Smith, it was expected to still be a weakness this year, too.
There are more than a few reasons why that is -- Jered Weaver's declining velocity and sudden homer problem chief among them -- but here's one that may not be immediately obvious when watching the games: The Angels' pitchers throw fewer first-pitch strikes than any other team in baseball. In fact, since data first became available back in 2002, this particular Angels team has thrown fewer first-pitch strikes (52.8 percent) than any other team on record.