After a big push at the waiver trade deadline, the Los Angeles Angels still finished in second place in the AL West, and missed the playoffs with an 80-82 record. With most of the team looking pretty ugly, the Angels had work cut out for them. Let\’s take a look at what they did this offseason.
Notable additions: P/DH Shohei Ohtani, 2B Ian Kinsler, 3B Zack Cozart, OF Chris Young, C Rene Rivera, OF Jabari Blash, RHP Jim Johnson, RHP Noe Ramirez, LHP Ian Krol, LHP John Lamb, 1B Chris Carter, OF Rymer Liriano.
Notable subtractions: 2B Brandon Phillips, RHP Ricky Nolasco, RHP Bud Norris, 1B C.J. Cron, 3B Yunel Escobar, OF Ben Revere, SS Cliff Pennington, RHPs Jesse Chavez, Yusmeiro Petit, David Hernandez, RHP Fernando Salas, OF Ramon Flores, OF Shane Robinson.
What they did well: They pretty much won the offseason. Ohtani, the 23 year old Japanese two way star is nicknamed the Japanese Babe Ruth, and is on an international rookie deal. Kinsler and Cozart are two really good additions as well. They didn\’t lose anything, either. Kinsler and Cozart are better than Escobar and Phillips, and well, no more Ricky Nolasco!
What they did bad, my column:
Sneaky Sleeper: If I asked you who led the Angels in WAR, and finished eighth in the league in that category, you\’d guess Mike Trout, like an educated baseball person. But, I guess most educated baseball persons (don\’t judge my grammar, it\’s for fun) are wrong. The player who was the right answer is Andrelton Simmons, who had a 7.14 WAR. He had lots of help from his defensive WAR of 4.17, which led the league. The runner-up there? Reds catcher Tucker Barnhart, who had a 2.82 defensive WAR. Simmons is undoubtedly our generation\’s Ozzie Smith.
Incoming outbreak: At age 25, Parker Bridwell finally got some MLB time, with a 3.64 ERA in 21 appearances, with 20 of them being starts. Though his strikeout numbers are low (5.4 K/9), Bridwell is still good enough to be in their rotation this season.
Unsuspected slump: After a promising 2015, Kole Calhoun has been unable to match his numbers in two seasons since. He hit 26 homers in 2015, but has hit 18 and 19 in the next two seasons. Also, despite a 15 point raise in batting average from 2015 to 2016, Calhoun\’s BA dropped 27 points to .244 in 2017. Not very good. Let\’s face it. Calhoun has fallen in his prime, an odd thing to see.
Blue-chip Bopper: Well, this is easy. I don\’t think I need explaining when I say Mike Trout, Mike Trout and Mike Trout. he\’s just simply baseball\’s best player.
Astounding ace: Since we don\’t know what to expect from Shohei Ohtani, I\’ll go with someone else instead. Though his last two seasons were cut short, Garrett Richards has been great since 2014, when he posted a 2.61 ERA in 168.2 innings. If Richards can finally stay healthy, you\’ll see his full potential.
Here is the Angels projected roster, starting with their lineup.
2B Ian Kinsler (R)
SS Andrelton Simmons (R)
CF Mike Trout (R)
LF Justin Upton (R)
DH Albert Pujols (R)
3B Zack Cozart (R)
RF Kole Calhoun (L)
1B Luis Valbuena (L)
C Martin Maldonado (R)
Also, DH Shohei Ohtani (L) will get a lot of lineup time
Here\’s their projected rotation.
RHP Garrett Richards
RHP Shohei Ohtani
LHP Andrew Heaney
RHP Parker Bridwell
RHP Matt Shoemaker
LHP Tyler Skaggs
RHP JC Ramirez
Obviously, one (probably Ramirez or Bridwell) will be moved to the pen.
Blake Parker (R) is their closer, with Cam Bedrosian (R), Keynan Middleton (R), Jose Alvarez (L), Jim Johnson (R), Luke Bard (R) and Ian Krol (L) are in the bullpen.
C Rene Rivera (R), OF Chris Young (R), INF Caleb Kowart (S) and OF Eric Young (S) are on the bench.
Finally, for my prediction, I think the Angels, a team that improved drastically over the offseason, will make the playoffs as the second wild card team in the American league.