Inbox: Will Trout get enough PAs to qualify?

Beat reporter Maria Guardado answers questions from fans

Inbox: Will Trout get enough PAs to qualify?

When will Mike Trout be eligible for official MLB stat consideration? What is the criteria?
-- Gary B., Anaheim

A qualified batter is a hitter who logs at least 3.1 plate appearances per game, which amounts to 502 plate appearances over a 162-game season. After missing 39 games with a torn thumb ligament, Trout entered Thursday with 310 plate appearances. He'll have to average at least 4.09 plate appearances over the Angels' final 47 games to end the season as a qualified batter.

Should the Angels go American League Wild Card or bust this year? Or just play out the schedule and see where they end up?
-- @dda_46 via Twitter

I don't see why the Angels would "just play out the schedule" when they're still in the thick of the AL Wild Card race. Their goal is to reach the postseason, and they still have a viable path there, so there's no point in straying from it. After their 6-3 homestand, the Halos leapfrogged two teams in the standings and pulled within two games of the Mariners for the second Wild Card spot, setting up a big four-game series in Seattle this weekend.

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The Angels are viewed as long-shot contenders, with a 14.4 percent chance of making the playoffs, according to Fangraphs, but they're currently one of seven teams that are within 2 1/2 games of a Wild Card berth. The crowded playoff landscape in the AL means they'll likely play meaningful baseball for the rest of the season, which is all players can ask for at this point in the year.

What do you think is the organization's view of Parker Bridwell? Do they see him as a long-term piece?
-- @KevinDeKock2 via Twitter

I think Bridwell has been a welcome surprise for the Angels and has provided some much-needed stability to their injury-riddled rotation this season. He's drawn frequent praise for his confidence and poise on the mound, and the Halos are 10-1 in games that he's pitched, which they probably didn't expect when they acquired him from the Orioles for cash in April.

Bridwell's outstanding start

That said, I don't think Bridwell's success this season guarantees him a rotation spot in 2018. Garrett Richards, Andrew Heaney, Tyler Skaggs, Matt Shoemaker, JC Ramirez, Alex Meyer, Nick Tropeano and Bridwell are all expected to be healthy next spring, so it's tough to predict who might end up cracking the Angels' rotation. I think Bridwell will be in the mix, but it's also possible that he could open the season in Triple-A and help give the Halos some pitching depth in the upper Minors.  

Who are the possible free agents the Angels could target in the offseason?
-- Daniel G., Riverside, Calif.

The Angels will have several holes they'll have to fill, most notably at second base, third base and left field. Given all the question marks surrounding their starting rotation, they could also stand to fortify their pitching staff. The Halos have not been big players in the free-agent market over the past couple years, but they'll have far more payroll flexibility this offseason when Josh Hamilton's contract comes off the books. I could see the Angels making one or two notable additions, though I don't think they'll be able to address all their needs with free agents.

They have been viewed as a potential landing spot for third baseman Mike Moustakas, who grew up in the San Fernando Valley. They could also try to make a run at a front-line pitcher, such as Jake Arrieta or Yu Darvish. I think the Angels are more likely to try to fill their void at second base via trade, as they've been linked to players like the Marlins' Dee Gordon and the Phillies' Cesar Hernandez.

Maria Guardado covers the Angels for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.