This season has not been the kindest to Taylor Ward. The way he's closing it out, though, shows he's a player who still could be worthy of praise in seasons to come.
"I've learned a lot this year," Ward said this month. "It started off really hot and kind of cooled off. Just puts a season in perspective of how things can go and how it can change drastically.
"Probably take a few weeks off [when the season ends] and then focus on getting bigger, stronger, faster. I think that's gonna be the biggest thing for me is to continue to work out well [in the offseason] and eat healthy and really just get back to being healthy."
Ward has been on a tear through September.
He went two for four with a pair of singles and also stole a base in the Angels' 4-3 win over the Oakland Athletics on Tuesday night.
Through his last 22 games before Tuesday, he batted .325 with an on-base-plus-slugging percentage of .926. He had four doubles and four home runs in his 25 hits in that span, contributing 13 RBIs and 13 runs.
His last hitting streak, which lasted nine games and ended Saturday, included his ninth three-for-four game of the season, his 30th multi-hit game of the year, and a two home run game. These numbers pale in comparison with the trajectory he was on in May before injuries slowed him down.
Ward had been having the best start of his career, during a season he opened nursing a groin injury, before a neck stinger May 20 and a mild right hamstring strain June 3 hampered him and eventually sidelined him for almost half of June.
Before going on the injured list, Ward was batting .333 with a 1.087 OPS — he had an MLB-leading 1.197 OPS at one point — and was a solid All-Star candidate. Hitting coach Jeremy Reed still believes an All-Star berth is in Ward's future.
"I thought he was fully capable of having a spot on that roster," Reed said this month. "It was one chance that isn't going to be just one chance. It's going to be multiple opportunities for having the chance to play in that game."