2015 Fantasy Outlooks: Los Angeles Angels

The Los Angeles Angels are coming off of a successful AL West winning season in 2014 that they will be desperate to repeat in 2015. The major additions are Josh Rutledge and Matt Joyce on offence but the biggest addition is in the pitching staff with the arrival of Andrew Heaney from the Marlins via the Dodgers. The Rutledge addition doesn’t completely cover the loss of Howie Kendrick to the Dodgers in the Heaney trade but it softens the loss. The major loss may well be Josh Hamilton to injury/suspension but in general the line-up doesn’t look hugely different. They have one of the biggest splits from best fantasy relevance to worst but then having the best player in baseball does mean there must be some massive drop off somewhere.

Hitting

Predicted Line-up (courtesy of www.rosterresource.com)

  1. Kole Calhoun, OF
  2. Erick Aybar, SS
  3. Mike Trout, OF
  4. Albert Pujols, 1B
  5. Matt Joyce, OF (vs RH), Johnny Giavotella, OF (vs LH)
  6. David Freese, 3B
  7. J. Cron, OF
  8. Josh Rutledge, 2B
  9. Chris Iannetta, C

Fantasy Superstar: Mike Trout, OF

Projected stat line of 110+ runs, 35 homers, 100+ RBI, 10-15 steals all at a greater than 0.300 average is pretty much all you need to hear. However, let me add this; he won MVP last year in a down season. If he doesn’t go number 1 in your league then you should kick that person out of the league immediately.

Ageing Power: Albert Pujols, 1B

Every year a fair portion of people will say he is done and this year is that ye….. In 2014 he bounced back from a terrible, injury hit, 2013 thanks to having over 600 AB’s. If he can manage that many again this year then 25ish homers with 90-100 RBI is more than possible. He isn’t a lock for top 10 anymore in my opinion but if he snuck in at 8/9/10 it wouldn’t shock me. A lot depends on him being on the field batting behind Trout because at least 3 out of 10 times he will find the best player in baseball on the paths in front of him and that must make life feel rosey for Mr Pujols. Mid-late 4th feels right for me and if he sneaks into the top ten then you will find you got some value. Runs may be an issue with his declining speed and the underwhelming looking 5/6//7 combo that will come to the plate behind him.

The Run Machine: Kole Calhoun, OF

As much as I love that Calhoun allows you to get the benefits of a 20 homer hitter who can score close to 100 runs by batting at the top of the order it frustrates me to no end that he isn’t going to bat 5th and drive in 100+ while still scoring a relatively decent amount of runs.  Calhoun isn’t going ridiculously early but there are definitely players who will have more balanced stat lines or have greater upside I would prefer, JD. Martinez and Melky Cabrera, which are going behind him in drafts.

No Excitement, No Damage: Erick Aybar, SS

As a guy who looks for upside everywhere I can late in drafts I hate the fact Aybar is even drafted in 12 team leagues. He doesn’t threaten to hit double digit home runs and 15 steals is unlikely but people value the fact the job is his and his 0.280 average won’t hurt your average in roto leagues. Personally I think there is so much upside in the likes of Chris Owings, JJ Hardy, Wilmer Flores, Brad Miller and Andrelton Simmons that I would rather take the risk on one of them coming good than I would plug Aybar in and settle for mediocrity. Obviously if you sacrificed average for power earlier in the draft then there is merit to Aybar but personally it’s a no thank you from me.

Any Other Business?

  • David Freese: In a standard 12 team roto league Freese is just on the brink of draftable players. The main reason I wanted to highlight him is because I don’t think he is far off Pablo Sandoval in terms of end of year value and Sandoval is going in the 10th Basically what I am saying is there is a ton of depth at third base so reaching for mid-level third baseman is not necessary when you can fall back on Freese types.
  • Josh Rutledge: One day I will stop believing in Rutledge and I thought that day may be when he left the power potential of Colorado. However, the move to a less hitter friendly park may be a benefit to Rutledge as it may stop him swinging for the fences quite as much and allow him to have an average increase. Another SS eligible player I would debate over Aybar.
  • CJ Cron: The value is rising for Cron with Hamilton out injured and facing a suspension. Cron now appears to have a path to every day playing time with Joyce in the outfield and him manning the DH. Still not quite someone I would be desperate to roster but he has 20 homer potential if he plays a full season.

Chris Iannetta is a borderline #2 catcher in two catcher leagues but even that is a push for him I feel. Don’t see him as much above a 30th ranked catcher and so you need to be in a 14+ team league for him to be a feature for you. Do I even need to say about Joyce and Giavotella? There are projected to be a platoon and frankly that means I don’t want to touch them unless one wins the job outright.

Pitching

Projected Rotation:

  1. Jered Weaver
  2. J. Wilson
  3. Matt Shoemaker
  4. Hector Santiago
  5. Andrew Heaney

(DL: Garrett Richards, Tyler Skaggs)

Fantasy Superstar: Garrett Richards

He may miss the first few weeks but right now Garrett Richards could be an absolute steal in the 11th round. When healthy Richards showed top 10 upside last season and there is no reason he shouldn’t be able to do that all over again. Currently going at third SP value which feels like a floor if he is healthy so right now the 10th/11th round is definitely a place I would be looking to grab Richards

Weaver is someone I think could end the season as a bargain but he feels so hit and miss it is hard to put a lot of faith in him even at low end #3 high end #4 starter. There is top 25 upside but there is quite a lot of risk and disappointment potential mixed in there. Shoemaker is generally considered a sleeper and again he is someone currently being drafted below his projected stat line so is someone I would look to grab if I still needed a #4 as the rounds draw on. Heaney is the only other pitcher I would consider drafting in a 12 team mixed roto league and that is solely based on the upside he has as a top prospect.

Projected Bullpen

CL: Huston Street

SU: Joe Smith

SU: Fernando Salas

MR: Michael Martin

MR: Vinnie Pestano

MR: Cam Bedrosian

LR: Cesar Ramos

There is no major rival for Houston Street and his biggest competition is his own ability to stay healthy which has not been a sure thing in the past. Smith is the logical next in line but there are some decent pitchers in this bullpen that could compete with him. Street is the only player worth drafting and that is in the high end #2 closer range solely because of his injury history.

Prospect Report

  • Alex Yarbrough, 2B: If Rutledge struggles we could see him reasonably early. However, they main turn to Giavotella first. Yarbrough is not a highly touted prospect and is someone whose value will need to be judged based on the situation of his call up. It’s likely he won’t arrive until September and then he will be depth and have no value.
  • Kyle Kubitza, 3B: Another September potential call up unless Freese is out for a long period and they decide to turn to the future sooner rather than later. A long shot but a name to pay attention to in a farm system that isn’t stacked.
  • Nick Tropeano, SP: Finally an intriguing big league option. With Richards coming back and 5 other guys ahead of him he needs some bad spring performances or injuries to be relevant to start the year. General wear and tear of the rotation may see him get an opportunity during the season.

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