The emergence of a healthier Garret Anderson in the second half gives the Angels a productive left-handed bat in the middle of the order as they enter postseason play against the Red Sox this week.
Anderson, 35, had two stints on the disabled list early in the season with an injured hip, but the three-time All-Star returned in early July and a couple weeks later began feeling like himself again.
"When I got on the field and started playing every day, that's when it really started to take off for me," Anderson told MLBPLAYERS.com in the latest Players Talk interview.
Anderson, who came in fourth in MVP balloting after the Angels' championship season in 2002, batted .305 and hit 13 of his 16 homers and 65 of his 80 RBIs following the All-Star Game this year.
The physical reassurance, in turn, allowed Anderson to focus more on pounding opposing pitchers.
"Mentally, I didn't have to worry about the drag of playing when I probably shouldn't, or playing hurt or injured," Anderson said. "I was able to put it behind me."
Anderson is in his fourth postseason of his 14-year career. He had the game-winning hit in Game 7 of the 2002 World Series -- a tiebreaking, three-run double. He comes off a September in which he batted .333 with five homers and 22 RBIs and helped the Angels coast to a six-game margin of victory in the AL west.
"Just getting to the finish line and finishing first is very gratifying," Anderson said. "But now you turn the page. It's a new season and you hope you don't have any two- or three-game losing streaks."
Anderson, who came up with the Angels as a 22-year-old in 1994, leads the franchise in hits, total bases and games played.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.