The LA Angels (72-90) finished in 4th place in the AL West 35 games behind 1st place Houston. They were 25 games behind 2nd place Oakland, 6 games back of 3rd place Texas and just 4 games ahead of last-place Seattle. In recent years it has been rough being in the same division as the Astros, your best hope is a wildcard and the Angels were even 24 games away from that in 2019.
PROJECTED STARTING LINEUP
1B Tommy La Stella (Tommy came out of nowhere to hit 16 home runs last season topping his total of 10 in his 5 previous seasons. He also hit .295 with 44 rbi’s while scoring 49 runs. I know some of those numbers seem low, but that is because he broke his leg in July and ended up with only 80 games played last year. I am sure the Angels are looking forward to seeing if his sudden power surge is for real or not)
OF Mike Trout (Ok, Mike had a decent season back in 2012, but can he sustain those numbers? LOL! Listen, I am not even going to talk about him. If you don’t know about Mike and how great he is, you don’t follow baseball at all. He is a machine that just keeps on going and going who does it all)
3B Anthony Rendon (The LA Angels won the Anthony Rendon sweepstakes in the offseason. Rendon had a career-high in runs scored (117), home runs (34) and rbi’s (126) last season and led the NL in doubles for the 2nd straight season. His strikeout rate was also a career-low for him while he continued to rack up walks. He just had one of those seasons where everything fell into place. Now the Angels just need to hope like in so many cases when a player signs a huge contract, their numbers fall the next season)
DH Shohei Ohtani (Although he is a very solid player, in my opinion, he has been a bit of a disappointment so far in his two years in the majors. Part of that is due to health and I also think unreasonable expectations. Many thought of a 20 win pitcher who hits 30 home runs a season. I doubt we ever see that. I don’t think the human body is meant to do that. I think Shohei to have the most success needs to make a choice of where he wants to play on the field and concentrate on that. This is just my opinion, maybe I am way off base here. Last season he hit .286 with 18 homers, down 4 from 2018, with 62 rbi’s and 51 runs scored)
1B Albert Pujols (There is no question that Albert is on the downside of his career and that makes me sad. He was one of the greatest, most likable players in the game. Last year he hit .244 with 23 home runs, 93 rbi’s and scored 55 runs in 131 games. He still gets his rbi’s because he is strategically placed in the lineup where they figure he will have baserunners for him to knock in, something he has always done well even with his declining power numbers in recent years. When his contract is up with the Angels he will have played 10 seasons with them and 10 with St Louis. I get the feeling he will walk away from the game at that point)
OF Justin Upton (Justin started the year on the injured list and ended the year on the injured list and played just 63 games between and those were not a memorable 63 games batting a career-low .215. He hit 12 home runs, knocked in 40 runs and scored 24 runs in 218 at-bats. His most value at this point in his career is probably his power, he is still capable of hitting 30 homers a season if he stays healthy)
OF Brian Goodwin (Brian was signed last spring as a replacement when Upton was hurt and stuck around filling in where needed. He did a nice job and then cooled off as the season went along. On average he did a nice job and earned a starting job this season, but it has been mentioned it may only be until one of their prized prospects is ready to come up. He ended up hitting .262 with 17 home runs and 47 rbi’s scoring 65 runs. He also stole 7 bases and had three triples so he has some speed. Even if he eventually loses he starting spot it sounds like a guy worthy of a roster spot for sure)
SS Andrelton Simmons (At one point in his career he was supposed to be Atlanta’s SS of the future, so how bad can this guy be? His numbers fell from 2018 considerably. He hit .264 with 7 homers and 40 rbi’s and 47 runs scored. He also stole 10 bases. That fall could come from a bum ankle that caused him two stints on the injured list. He is among the best at making contact only striking out 37 times. Look for his batting average to return to closer to .300 with an increase in stolen bases and runs scored with the return of a healthy ankle this season)
C Jason Castro (Jason is just getting back into the swing of things. This will be his first season with the Angles. He missed most of 2018 with a knee injury and the Twins were careful bringing him back slowly allowing him to play in just 79 games last season. He has never been a full-time starter in the big leagues but appears to be the main guy this season. In those 79 games, he only hit .231 but did manage 13 homers with 30 rbi’s and 39 runs scored. I don’t think they are expecting miracles from him but at the very least would like to see what his career averages have been)
Shohei Ohtani (He will miss the start of the season and likely not be back until the end of April and once he is back they said he will pitch once a week and not every five games, they want to bring him along slowly. He did not pitch in 2019 and made just 10 starts in 2018 going 4-2 with a 3.31 era in 51.2 innings of work)
Julio Teheran (Don’t get me wrong, Julio is a nice addition to any staff, but he is not an elite pitcher like some people may think. Maybe it is because he was an Atlanta Brave. In fact, he is not even a top-50 pitcher anymore and is closer to 100 than he is 50. His numbers are still ok though. He was 10-11 with a 3.81 era in 33 starts. He struck out 162 and gave up 148 hits in 174.2 innings of work while walking 83. His numbers could have been much worse, he seems to have had a way last season of getting himself out of jams. There is a reason the Angels signed him to just a one-year contract, but he is more than capable of turning it around and having a rather good year especially after changing leagues)
Andrew Heaney (Heaney is a pitcher with plenty of upside who knows how to miss bats and the Angels were excited for a possible breakout season last year but injuries go in the way. Elbow problems delayed his season until late May and a shoulder issue set him back a month in mid-July delaying and progress or continuity he could get going. Even so, he went 4-6 with a 4.91 era but what was encouraging was he struck out 118 batters in 95.1 innings, but he did allow nearly a hit an inning as well. If he ever puts it all together he is going to have some really good numbers)
Dylan Bundy (What do you think? Is Dylan glad to escape Baltimore? His number was not too bad considering. He even had two winning seasons before the team really started stinking it up the past two seasons. Last year he was 7-14 with a 4.79 era allowing pretty much one hit and one strikeout per inning pitched. It sounds like he was just surviving out there. I think Dylan is a better pitcher than his stats showed and moving over to the Angels and pitching in a much more pitcher-friendly park may revive his career)
Patrick Sandoval (In Patrick’s first big league season he went 0-4 with a 5.03 era in 9 starts pitching just 39.1 innings. Kind of makes you wonder how he made the rotation this year. The Angels are struggling and shorthanded in that department, but Sandoval does have potential striking out 9.61 per 9 innings but needs to walk less and do a better job keeping the ball in the ballpark. All things young kids learn as they go, so why not give him a try?)
Griffin Canning was supposed to be in the starting rotation but injuries will keep him out until at least mid-April.
CLOSER – Hansel Robles (Hansel finally stepped into his own as a closer in 2019. He converted 23 of his 27 save opportunities with his fastball reaching a career-best 97.1 mph. He added an improved changed up to that already increased fastball making it look even nastier. He was able to improve on most things including home runs and walks allowed. He ended up going 5-1 with a 2.48 era with 23 saves and only 4 blown saves. He struck out 75 in 72.2 innings pitched while giving up just 58 hits and walking just 16. He better be careful or he is going to end up becoming one of the better closers in the American League)
I want to take over, I really do. I love Mike Trout, I love Pujols, but I cannot see them improving by 14 games from last season. Trout will continue to do his thing. As much as I love Pujols, father time is catching up with him. I am not a fan of Shohei Ohtani even if he could stay healthy. Is Rendon really worth all that money? He had a career-year and won a world series and signed a huge contract.
We know what usually follows. And let’s face it, the pitching staff is not going to make anyone shake in their shoes. The Angels are being over-valued this season in my opinion and I am jumping on the UNDER as I cannot see that big of an improvement this season and I like the Angels.