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Fantasy Baseball Team Previews – Los Angeles Angels
The Los Angeles Angels were disappointed to have missed out on the playoffs in 2015, having lost out for a wildcard spot by one game to the Houston Astros. The Angels were arguably the favourites entering the season to win the division but they never seemed to be the in-form team in the division. Houston got off to a fast start and then Texas came roaring back in the second half to take the glory and deny the Angels. As always, they have Mike Trout so they will always be a team that is worth viewing but this line-up looks so ugly. With no help ready in the farm, they are a team you won’t want to spend a huge amount of time watching or investing too much in for fantasy.
You look at their additions and losses and you would question how come they are expected to be so much worse than last year. They lost Iannetta and Gott as well as trading away Aybar, but that final loss is negated by the fact they added Andrelton Simmons who improves their defense hugely. They then added Yunel Escobar and Geovany Soto so there is a definite net gain for them this offseason. The problem is they have an ageing team and a lot of players who don’t look to have a huge amount of potential left. Add in that the farm system is stripped completely bare of prospects and there is not a lot they can do to make this roster look exciting this year
|AL Central||AL West||NL East||NL Central||NL West|
|Cleveland||Los Angeles A||Miami||Cincinnati||Colorado|
|Oakland||New York M||Milwaukee||
Los Angeles D
Projected Starting Line-up
- Yunel Escobar
- Kole Calhoun
- Mike Trout
- J. Cron
- Daniel Nava
- Carlos Perez (vs RH), Geovany Soto (vs LH)
- Andrelton Simmons
- Todd Cunningham (vs RH), Craig Gentry (vs LH)
- Johnny Giavotella
Mike Trout, OF
A testament to just how good a baseball player that Trout is is that not even being lumbered with one of the worst offenses in baseball cannot stop him being an elite fantasy option. He has scored over 100 runs each of the last four years and has driven in 90 in three of those. And I think 200-210 combined runs and RBI are well within his reach, even in this weakened line-up. Power wise he has averaged 38.5 homers in the last two seasons and I think he gets somewhere close to that again, especially if Cron can be competent batting behind him. 0.300 looks to be about what we can expect his average to be but 0.310 is definitely possible if everything clicks. 15 steals would be a bonus and I think 10 is perhaps more likely. Trout is a lock top three pick and frankly I am happy whichever of the three (Trout, Harper, Goldschmidt) I get, but I think Trout may actually be my number two overall behind Goldy right now, especially in three OF leagues.
Kole Calhoun, OF
I expected more out of Calhoun in terms of his counting stats last season given that he spent most of the year batting in front of Trout. However, his batting average dipped down to 0.256 and his OBP fell accordingly which hurt the opportunities for Trout to drive him in. I think there is some regression to come in that batting average back up towards the 0.270 that it was in 2014. Interestingly, we did also see a spike in power to 26 homers which is partly due to the fact he played 32 more games in 2015 than 2014. The decrease in batting average is largely due to a massive increase in strikeouts from 104 to 164. I think we can see some regression in the strikeouts and batting average without the power dropping below the 20 mark making Calhoun a low end number two/high end number three outfielder who can be had around the 120th overall pick.
CJ Cron, 1B/DH
I can’t help but feel disappointed when I look at Cron’s numbers from last year, and I didn’t even have anything invested in him. 16 homers in 378 AB’s is fine enough, and a 0.262 batting average is okay, but I just expected to see 20 homers, probably with a worse average, though. At just 26 he has room to grow and frankly his biggest concern has always been playing time; well, take one look at the Angels roster and you will see that playing time won’t be the issue this year. If Cron cannot play 130 games this year, he will never do it. I’m going to be bold on Cron and say there is no way they can avoid playing him 140 games at either first base or DH. That stat line comes up 22 homers at a 0.260 average with 140-150 runs and RBI, giving us a top 15 first baseman. Strip those homers back to 20 and he falls right into that 15/16/17 range among the position. At a cost of, at the worst, a 283rd overall selection, I will take the chance that he can give me that without hesitation.
Albert Pujols, 1B/DH
Pujols is an aging slugger who spent the whole of last season limping around the field, and now he’s about to hit 36 and will be coming off surgery which may delay the start of his season. That scares the life out of me frankly, and no talk of his 40-homer 2015 is going to make me feel better if I’m brutally honest. Yes, he hit 40 homers but his average dropped nearly 30 points to 0.244. If he plays 150 games he has a chance to hit 30 homers (he hit 28 in 159 games in 2014), but let’s be realistic and say 130 games is a ceiling and 125 is a safe-ish bet. At 125 games the projections say 25 homers at a 0.260 average, three steals and 140 combined runs and RBI. That puts him in the Santana, Lind, Belt and Myers region over the course of the season and close to Carlos Santana on a per-game basis according to my projections. Right now he is going 50 picks above any of them wayyy too high inside the top 100.
Any Other Business?
- Yunel Escobar, 3B: I like this guy in deep leagues simply because of opportunity. Batting atop the Angels order is fine because he will have Calhoun, Trout, Cron and Pujols to drive him in and 100 runs is definitely on the cards
- Carlos Perez, C: No better than a deep two-catcher league guy. No real power or speed upside and not a great average either. Only worth a mention because he is a catcher.
- Craig Gentry, OF: In an outfield this bad there is a real chance he could stumble into PA’s and if he does the steals will be there. Worth monitoring
- Garrett Richards
- J. Wilson
- Jered Weaver
- Hector Santiago
- Andrew Heaney
Coming off a great 2014, Richards had a relatively poor 2015 season with his ERA increasing by a whole run, his WHIP increasing by 0.2 and his K/9 falling by over a strikeout to 7.6. These stats are closer to the pitcher he was pre-2014 before he became a regular starter. I do expect a little bit of improvement from Richards but not back to the great numbers of 2014. I have Richards in the region of 30th overall pitcher in a group with Zimmermann, Liriano, Quintana and Iglesias.
Heaney profiles as a low end starter with upside and if he can increase his strikeout rate he has top 50 upside. He is currently going about 250th overall and is one of the better upside plays in the guys who can be taken around him. However, he isn’t a guy I am targeting either given that there are other upside plays who can be had later in the draft.
Hector Santiago & Matt Shoemaker
Santiago may become fantasy relevant as more than a spot starter at some point in the year, but to start the season this pair aren’t draftable in anything smaller than 14 team mixed.
He is kind of the closer by default because the team doesn’t have anyone remotely interesting behind him; Jow Smith is a good pitcher but doesn’t throw anywhere near hard enough to be a long term closer. Street is old, he is limited in the amount of innings he can pitch, doesn’t have a great K rate or amazing ratios but he is a fairly safe guy to keep the role and get 35-ish saves and he comes at a decent enough price.
- Kyle Kubitza, 3B: We saw some of Kubitza last season and it wasn’t pretty. In fact he struck out 38% of the time. He has some power but the signing of Escobar means it could be a while until we see it. This is a guy to monitor who might provide some power mid-season but it really doesn’t get more exciting than that.