Los Angeles Angels 2017 Team Preview

2016 Recap: 74-88, Fourth in the AL West. Where to start with this mess? The Angels had the seventh highest payroll in all of baseball last season at just north of $180 million, almost $40 million of that was to players who spent the majority of the season on the disabled list. Maybe the most embarrassing payroll fact for the Angels is that they are currently paying Josh Hamilton $26 million to play in AAA for the Rangers. That is not a good allocation of funds to say the least. The Angels do have some salary relief for 2017 as the terrible contracts they handed out to starters Jered Weaver and CJ Wilson are finally off the books. This winter, the Angels went bargain bin shopping in an attempt to fill the many holes they have on their current roster. Hopefully the Angels can get things turned around sooner rather than later so they do not waste all of Mike Trout’s prime.

Offseason Moves:

Significant Additions: INF Luis Valbuena, OF Cameron Maybin, 2B Danny Espinosa, C Martin Maldonado, OF Ben Revere, RHP Jesse Chavez

Significant Subtractions: C Geovany Soto, C Jett Bandy, RHP Jhoulys Chacin, RHP Jered Weaver (cheers from the crowd), RHP Tim Lincecum

Projected Lineup and Breakdown:

  1. 3B Yunel Escobar
  2. RH Kole Calhoun
  3. CF Mike Trout
  4. DH Albert Pujols
  5. 1B Luis Valbuena
  6. LF Cameron Maybin
  7. 2B Danny Espinosa
  8. SS Andrelton Simmons
  9. C Martin Maldonado

This is not a good lineup outside of Trout, Pujols, and Calhoun, however it should be an improved lineup over the horror that was 2016. The Angels finished tenth in runs scored last season despite having the best hitter in baseball and good campaigns from Pujols and Calhoun. Although LA did add some solid MLB caliber players, there is still major questions about this lineup’s ability to get on base consistently. None of the Angels new projected starters have a career on base percentage above .322, while Andrelton Simmons and Yunel Escobar both have career walk rates below 8%. So while this should be an improved lineup, I’m still not very optimistic that the Angels will be in the top half of the league in runs scored in 2017 either.

Projected Rotation, Bullpen, and Breakdown:

Rotation –

  • RHP Garrett RIchards
  • RHP Ricky Nolasco
  • RHP Matt Shoemaker
  • LHP Tyler Skaggs
  • RHP Jesse Chavez

Bullpen –

  • RHP Huston Street – Closer
  • RHP Cam Bedrosian
  • RHP Andrew Bailey
  • LHP Jose Alvarez
  • RHP JC Ramirez

As bad as the Angels lineup is, their pitching staff has the potential to be even worse. I like Garrett Richards potential, but the young right hander is currently pitching through a partially torn UCL in his pitching elbow. Yankees right hander Masahiro Tanaka has already paved the way for alternative treatment in avoiding Tommy John surgery, but there are still a lot of reasons to be concerned about Richards’ ability to hold up over the course of the season. Outside of Richards, LA has young lefty Tyler Skaggs who also has a laundry list of past injuries and has made just 28 big league starts since the beginning of the 2014 season and righty Matt Shoemaker who despite showing flashes (3.00 ERA in the second half of 2016) has also missed time in each of his three big league seasons. If all three of these young arms can stay healthy, it could potentially be the strength of this team outside of Trout, but more than likely the Angels will have to dig deep to find extra starters again in 2017 like when they brought Tim Lincecum back from the dead last season.

Fantasy Analysis:

Stud: OF Mike Trout. If Mike Trout is not the first pick in your draft this season, whoever passed him up should be immediately kicked out of your league and then completely removed from society. Trout’s 162 game average for his career is 34 homers, 29 steals and a .963 OPS. Trout could call it a career today and there would be a real Hall of Fame case to be made for him. Mike Trout is the best hitter of this generation. We should all take a step back and truly appreciate his greatness.

Sleeper: RP Cam Bedrosian. The Angels are not a good source of saves regardless of who their closer is as they converted just 29 as a team in all of 2016. Veteran Huston Street is currently scheduled to be the team’s closer mainly because Mike Scioscia has quietly become one of the worst managers in the league and doesn’t understand you do not need “experience” to pitch effectively in the ninth inning. Between Street’s injury history and terrible performance (6.45 ERA in 2016), Cam Bedrosian will easily take this job by the start of May and should be able to give you some quality innings while doing so as Bedrosian struck out 51 batters in just over 40 innings last season.

Bust: SP Garrett Richards. This wasn’t easy to do considering the Angels only have a handful of players being drafted high (or at all) in most leagues, but someone has to get the bust label so here we go. I’ve already discussed Richards’ injury issues and because of that I’m avoiding him in most situations. Even as the 71st starter off the board, in most leagues I would rather take a chance on someone who has a fully intact UCL. I was off Masahiro Tanaka last draft season for the same reason and was proven dead wrong, but every injury is different and I’m just not willing to take the chance on Richards unless the discount is even greater than it already is.

2017 Record Prediction: Unless the Angels can get some real production from their starting pitchers, it will be another wasted Mike Trout season. Let’s hope 2018 will finally be the season we can see Trout back playing in October. 77-85, 4th in the AL West.

-Randy Haines

Check out our other 2017 team previews here.

Photo credit: MLB Mayhem

Statistics are courtesy of Baseball reference and Fangraphs

Projected rosters are courtesy of rosterresource.com and accurate as of 2/28

Fantasy ADP data courtesy of STATS.com and The NFBC

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