ANAHEIM — Mickey Moniak wanted to make it back to play this final weekend to be sure that his breakout season ended on a positive note.
Although Moniak missed most of September with a back injury, he was activated for the final three games so he “get the feels and go into the offseason knowing I was ready to go,” he said.
It’s an offseason like none of the others in his career because it’s following a season in which he finally began to live up to the potential that came with being the No. 1 overall pick in the 2016 MLB Draft.
“I feel like I proved to the people who believed in me that they were right, and to the people who doubted me that, maybe they were wrong,” Moniak said. “This is a big year for me going forward. There’s always work to be done. I definitely don’t think it was the best year that I could possibly have had. I think there’s room for improvement and learning. I’m excited to get into the offseason.
“My ultimate goal is to get into the playoffs and the World Series. We didn’t do that this year. So once the game ends on Sunday, I’m going to take a few weeks to reflect and kind of figure out what I need to do to get better in order to put us in a better position to win.”
Moniak, 25, did plenty already. Among all the Angels players who had been in the major leagues before this season, Moniak was arguably the one who most exceeded expectations.
Coming into Saturday’s game, Moniak was hitting .282 with 14 homers and an .809 OPS in 320 plate appearances. In 167 plate appearances spread over the previous three major league seasons, Moniak hit .157 with a .486 OPS.
Moniak has said the adjustments he made began in the winter before the 2022 season. He was happy with where he was prior to last year, but three hand injuries spoiled that season.
Moniak worked out last winter with Phil Plantier, the Angels’ new assistant hitting coach, and developed a routine and approach that carried into this season.
“I stuck to that same program last year and obviously it’s shown to be successful again this year,” Moniak said. “Always looking to grow, always looking to add new things, but I felt like I do have a good base as far as what I need to do to get ready.”
Moniak said one of the signs of his development came in the way he rebounded from occasional slumps throughout the season. He hit .186 with a .484 OPS over a 27-game stretch into late August, but he responded by hitting .311 with an .815 OPS over his next 12 games before he hurt his back.
“I feel like that’s what’s been lacking in my game at times prior to this year,” Moniak said. “Going into those slumps and almost digging myself deeper into it. Obviously this year, I proved to myself and to this organization and to whoever follows me that I can get myself out of those situations.”
Catcher Matt Thaiss, who has not played since Sept. 13, said his shoulder “just didn’t progress as well as we wanted it to.” Thaiss has been available to pinch-hit since then, but Manager Phil Nevin said he didn’t want to use him unless it was absolutely necessary. Thaiss said he doesn’t believe he needs a procedure on his shoulder over the winter. “This offseason, a big priority will be strengthening it and making sure nothing like this happens again,” he said. …
Outfielder Randal Grichuk has hit .282 with an .812 OPS in 24 games since he cleared waivers at the end of August. Grichuk had hit .168 with a .567 OPS in his first 28 games with the Angels after they acquired him from the Colorado Rockies. “I think in August, coming here wanting to try and do too much, I was tinkering a little mechanically, mentally,” Grichuk said. “Then I just kind of said ‘Screw it. Stop tinkering and just try to hit the ball hard.’”
A’s (LHP JP Sears, 5-13, 4.49 ERA) at Angels (TBD), Sunday, 12:07 p.m., Bally Sports West, 830 AM