The Los Angeles Angels were one of the winners of the 2012-2013 off-season, but had an incredibly rough time of it on the field once the 2013 season got underway.
This off-season has been a little more understated. They did trade Mark Trumbo and acquired some pitchers, but haven’t made a move that even comes close to the splash of the last two signings when they signed Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton, respectively.
So, how do things look for the Halos as the 2014 season approaches?
Projected 2014 Angels Offense
|1. Erick Aybar||SS||30||S||550||84||7||48||12||.276|
|2. Mike Trout||CF||22||R||590||116||28||95||40||.325|
|3. Albert Pujols||1B||34||R||515||77||24||91||1||.282|
|4. Josh Hamilton||LF||33||L||540||78||27||89||4||.265|
|5. David Freese||3B||31||R||480||61||14||68||2||.275|
|6. Raul Ibanez||DH||42||L||435||52||22||58||1||.237|
|7. Howie Kendrick||2B||30||R||515||55||10||61||9||.287|
|8. Kole Calhoun||RF||26||L||485||57||16||70||12||.278|
|9. Chris Iannetta||C||31||R||330||37||11||41||1||.233|
- Crackerjack Fantasy Options: Erick Aybar, Mike Trout, Albert Pujols, Josh Hamilton, Howie Kendrick
I have to start with the obvious here and mention Mike Trout. We’ll get a little more in depth on him in a bit, but with the possible exception of Miguel Cabrera, Trout is the clear No. 1 fantasy guy for 2014. As for the others…
– Aybar: Playing the thin SS position helps the value of Erick Aybar, but if he really does bat at the top of the order, Aybar should at least be good for some runs scored. The problem is that there are a lot of similar players in the Angels’ order, so he does need to start well or risk getting relegated to the 6-9 spots, which would make a player of his style completely useless for your fantasy team.
– Pujols: Judging by the last few years, it’s pretty obvious that Albert Pujols is a player on the decline. Having said that, he’s still got more than enough power to be viable as a fantasy player and if he even hits .275, his power is still good enough to be a first baseman in a fantasy league of any size.
– Hamilton: I’m guessing that Josh Hamilton is going to fall in the drafts, which is a good thing. Hamilton had a dismal first year with the Angels, but actually finished the year pretty well and much like Pujols, should be good for some power, even if he struggles elsewhere.
– Kendrick: If Aybar can’t hold one of the first two spots in the order, Howie Kendrick has to find one of those two slots. The difference is that unlike Aybar, Kendrick has a little more power and can still be at least a viable deep league starting 2B from the bottom part of the order.
Projected 2014 Angels Pitching
- Crackerjack Fantasy Options: Jered Weaver & Ernesto Frieri
We’ll elaborate a little bit on Hector Santiago shortly. But C.J. Wilson walks way too many hitters to be a good fantasy pitcher, Garrett Richards is good at throwing strikes, but not nearly good enough given the amount of hits he allows, and Tyler Skaggs may have a bright future, but he hasn’t shown anywhere enough to put on your fantasy team unless it’s a dynasty league.
As for Jered Weaver, he doesn’t strike as many hitters out as he once did, but is still one of the best at preventing both runs and runners. You probably do need to budget a trip to the DL or two if you roster him but he’ll be one of the best in the business when he’s out there.
Ernesto Frieri is coming off of a down year, but if what he did in 2013 is as bad as you’ll get from him, he’s a viable option. The Angels did sign Joe Smith, but the closer job appears to be Frieri’s. Given his strikeout rate, he is a closer that you want on your team, as long as you don’t overpay for him.
- Fantasy Star: Mike Trout
I dare you to argue this one. Trout is one of the best players in the game in pretty much every fantasy category and is only 22. I do wish he’d bat third, but Mike Trout is the top guy on this team (and probably the league) no matter where he bats.
- Fantasy Bust: David Freese
He misses too much time and is just not a good enough hitter when he’s out there. At a pretty deep 3B position, David Freese isn’t even worth considering.
I’d like him a little more hitting in a better hitter’s park, but I doubt that Freese will even get into the Top-15 fantasy 3B by season’s end.
- Prospect Watch: C.J. Cron
He’d appear to be blocked by Albert Pujols at 1B, but Pujols will certainly have to spend some significant time at DH, especially towards the end of the year. It shouldn’t be long before we see C.J. Cron in the majors.
You also may want to keep an eye on Taylor Lindsey. It certainly wouldn’t be surprising to see Howie Kendrick moved at some point, and Lindsey has shown 15-20 HR potential in the minors from the shallow 2B position.
- Fantasy Sleepers: Kole Calhoun, Raul Ibanez, and Hector Santiago
In the minors, Kole Calhoun showed that he can absolutely hit. With Mark Trumbo and Peter Bourjos out of town, Calhoun’s spot as an everyday outfielder is really not in question. When you see that from a guy who was a .317 hitter in the minors and hit .354 in AAA last year, it’s pretty natural to be excited about the potential, especially from a guy like Calhoun who can also run and hit for power. At the end of your drafts, this is a guy you’ll want to think about adding.
If you’re looking for a guy who can provide some cheap power, Raul Ibanez is about as good an option as you’ll get. Now, you’ll need to be able to work around an average that will be below .250, but he should be good for about 20-25 bombs.
Santiago has done a good job keeping runs off of the board, despite having a well below average walk rate and pitching in a good hitter’s park. Now, he’s in a great pitcher’s yard and as he continues to get older, should be better at throwing strikes, which will keep the WHIP down.
If his history has shown us anything, it’s that Hector Santiago will likely be somewhere better than 8 K’s per 9 innings, which will make him a good fantasy arm if he can have an ERA around 3.50 and a WHIP below even 1.30.
- Final Thoughts:
There’s a lot of potential on this team, but the only guy worth a big auction amount or a high draft pick is Mike Trout. Everyone else on the team is packed with question marks. Will Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton bounce back, or are there best days just well behind them? Will anyone step up and truly take hold of one of the top two spots in the order? Can anyone besides Jered Weaver pitch, and how many innings will he be able to throw?
Trout is the best player in the game and absolutely worth one of the first two picks in the draft and he’ll be good anywhere in the first four spots of the Angels order. Other than that, you’re looking at a lot of potential inconsistency and shuffling from Mike Scioscia, I wouldn’t put too many LA Angels on your roster.
- Fantasy Baseball First Base Profiles: Albert Pujols
- Who’d You Rather: Howie Kendrick vs. Omar Infante?
- David Freese Angels: How New Home will Impact Fantasy Baseball Value
- Ernesto Frieri: Angels Closer Has Value to Fantasy Owners in 2014
- Josh Hamilton: Evaluating OF’s 2014 Fantasy Value
- Mark Trumbo Trade: Fantasy Impact of Three-Team-Deal from Winter Meetings