Daily Distractions: The ugly signifiance of 9-15 for the Angels.

Josh Hamilton

The Angels couldn’t come back from a 9-15 start last year. Will Josh Hamilton make the difference this year? (Associated Press photo)

The Angels are 9-15.

If that sounds familiar, it’s because that was the Angels’ record on May 1 of last year — otherwise known as The Day The Angels Turned It Around A Little Too Late.

The Angels went 80-58 after May 1, 2012. Will that be enough for them to catch at least two of the three teams ahead of them in the American League West standings? (And would a wild-card berth even be a satisfying outcome for this team?)

History says the answer is no.

Sports Illustrated’s Jay Jaffe wrote today about the Toronto Blue Jays’ odds of overcoming their 9-17 start, which leaves them a distant fifth in the American League East. He threw out a series of dire stats, all of which are applicable to the Angels:

• Since 1995, the first year that the postseason included wild card entrants, only six teams have gone 11-15 or worse through their first 26 games and still made the playoffs. That’s six out of 146 (4.0 percent) who either won the division or a wild card spot.

• Only one of the six teams, the 2001 A’s, had a worse record than the Blue Jays [and Angels] at this juncture, yet they still finished with more than 100 wins, offering a sliver of hope that Toronto might still be a juggernaut.

• Three of the six reached the postseason by securing wild card slots (something that’s even easier now given the expanded format that added two playoff teams last year). Two of those teams, the 2005 Astros and 2007 Rockies, went on to win pennants, though they were both swept in the World Series.

Any way you look at it, the Angels’ odds aren’t good. If you desire a dose of optimism, Baseball Prospectus still gives the Angels a 37 percent chance of making the playoffs, and a 3.7 percent chance of winning the World Series. Study the chart, and BP’s simulated seasons also acknowledge that the Angels are in a really tough division.

My Monday bullet points:

• Since condolences to Angels pitcher Tommy Hanson and his family. Hanson is off the bereavement list and starting tonight, one day after revealing that his half-brother died in Georgia last week.

• A’s starter Dan Straily has only faced one team more than once in his career: The Angels. Tonight will be his third career start against the Angels, who scored eight times off Straily in 11 ⅓ innings against him last year, a 6.35 ERA.

• The Angels are opening a new facility in the Dominican Republic, attached to those of the Mets and Phillies, MLB.com reports.

• Yesterday, historian Michael Beschloss offered a baseball photo on his Twitter feed. That’s a young Frank Sinatra on the left, a retired Lou Gehrig in the middle.

• When NBC forced viewers to switch from watching a Raiders-Jets game to the movie “Heidi” on Nov. 17, 1968, an important rule was born: Finish showing the game, no matter the score. The Raiders scored two touchdowns at the end of the game to beat the Jets, but no one saw it. Pittsburgh Pirates fans didn’t miss a dramatic ending yesterday, but they did miss the end of the game when the Pittsburgh station switched to a Penguins game instead.

• The movie “42″ unwittingly highlighted sports’ backward stance toward gay athletes, Yahoo! Sports’ Jeff Passan wrote on April 15. Today, on the anniversary of Robinson’s first game as a Brooklyn Dodger, we know that NBA center Jason Collins is gay.

• These are a few of my favorite samples, contained in one song, “Finally Moving” by Pretty Lights:

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About J.P. Hoornstra

J.P. Hoornstra covers the Dodgers, Angels and Major League Baseball for the Los Angeles Daily News, Long Beach Press-Telegram, Torrance Daily Breeze, San Gabriel Valley Tribune, Pasadena Star-News, San Bernardino Sun, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin, Whittier Daily News and Redlands Daily Facts. Before taking the beat in 2012, J.P. covered the NHL for four years. UCLA gave him a degree once upon a time; when he graduated on schedule, he missed getting Arnold Schwarzenegger's autograph on his diploma by five months.