Thursday, March 22, 2012

Los Angeles Angels Preview/Prediction

Now that we got the division predictions done it is time to dig a little bit deeper.  Between now and the opener in Japan each team will get their own prediction/preview.  I am going to go in alphabetical order.

Our next post takes us to Anaheim, where the biggest signing in Major League history is trying to drown out the fact that the outfield is old and feeble.  How will they do?  Let's take a look!

Infield:  Chris Iannetta at catcher, Albert Pujols at first base, Howard Kendrick at second base, Erik Aybar at shortstop, and Alberto Callaspo at third base.

Chris Iannetta came over from the Rockies, and it will be interesting to see how he fares without the help of the thin air in Coors Field.  The most expensive free agent in baseball history is now Albert Pujols.  No pressure on him at all right?  I think he will do just fine this year as the anchor in that lineup and be right up there in the MVP race. It will take him a month or so to adjust to the American League, but he will be devastating once he gets all the pitchers down. Howard Kendrick changed his name to sound more grown-up and his game became grown-up last year as well.  Hitting in the 2 hole with Pujols behind him will give him even more good pitches to hit and make him even better this year.  Erik Aybar is in a contract year this year and he is a pesky lead off hitter in the Chone Figgins mold.  Back when Chone Figgins was good of course.  Aybar gets on base, steals bases, and scores runs.  Not really much else you could ask for from him.  Callaspo doesn't strike out very often, but he doesn't hit for a lot of power either.  He only had 29 extra base hits in 145 games last year, and with Mark Trumbo hot on his heels for playing time at third base, he is going to need to step it up in a big way.

Who will have the best season of these guys? Albert Pujols.  A lock every year for a .300 batting average, 35 home runs, 100 runs batted in, 100 runs scored, good defense at first base, and very good base running makes him a legitimate baseball super duper star and a surefire first ballot hall of famer.

Outfield:  Vernon Wells in left field, Peter Bourjos in center field, and Torii Hunter in right field.

The funny thing is the five year ago, the two corner outfielders were two of the best center fielders in the game.  Now Vernon Wells is knows for having the worst contract in all of baseball, which means that the Angels have no shot in hell of trading him.  They could cut him and eat the remainder of that money, but he did hit 25 home runs last year, albeit with a .218 average.  Bourjos came out of nowhere last year to excel in center field, and it was because of him they were able to keep Mike Trout in the minors for so long. He had double digit triples and double digit home runs last year, something you don't see very often.  Torii Hunter still shows flashes of brilliance but he has lost a step and has been relegated to right field. Even though he still has some pop in his bat, I will be very surprised if he is a full time starter in 2013.  

Who will have the best season of these guys? Bourjos, but only because Wells and Hunter are so far removed from what they were a few years ago he wins this by default.  He will be solid, hit around .280 with double digit doubles, triples, home runs, and steals.  The real gem in the outfield is Mike Trout, but he doesn't figure to have an opneing day starting spot with the team, so we will see how it goes.

Starting Pitching:  Jered Weaver, Dan Haren, C.J Wilson, Ervin Santana, and Jerome Williams.

Talk about an embarrassment of riches.  The top four pitchers in this rotation all could be #1 guys somewhere else.  Three of them have been.  Last year Weaver went 18-8 with a 2.41 ERA.  He has good stuff and a bulldog mentality, and all he does is win. I do think he has the fourth best stuff on this staff though, and that is how talented everyone else is.  Haren has very good stuff and struck out almost 200 hitters last year.  He might be the most consistent starter on this team winning between 14-16 games in six of the last seven years.  That 7th year he won 12.  C.J Wilson is the other big free agent signing the Angels brought in, and it helps that they stole him from Texas.  Another huge plus that Wilson provides is he is the only left hander the Angels have in the starting rotation this year. He needs to stay healthy this year, although with the last two years we have no reason to think he won't.  Ervin Santana might have the best pure stuff of any of these pitchers, but he doesn't have the mental make up of the other 3.  Saying that about your #4 starter is a luxury that not many other teams have.  Just to top it all off, the #5 starter is a former first round pick that went 4-0 in six starts last year.  This staff is filthy.  I think 3 all-stars at of this rotation is very doable.

Who will have the best season of these guys? I think it will be Dan Haren.  Weaver, Santana or Wilson would not surprise me, but I think it will be Haren.  He will finally win over 16 games and will continue to rack up the strike outs and make life miserable in the American League West.  As a Mariner fan I know.

Bullpen: Jordan Walden, Latroy Hawkins, Scott Downs, and Hisanori Takahasi.

I have to admit that Jordan Walden was my best fantasy pick up last year.  I got him in the 20th and last round and all he did was save 32 games and strike out 67 in 60 innings. He will get to 40 this year.  It seems like Latroy Hawkins has pitched for every single team, and yet every single year he gets traded to a team that needs relief pitching and ends up making the post season.  Unlike other lefties I have written about, Scott Downs is actually a good pitcher.  He had an ERA of under 1.5 last year and he is sensational against both left handers and right handers.  Takahasi pitched in 61 games last year for the Angels and they are keeping him around so I guess he did alright.  I don't remember him pitching once though, and for a reliever that isn't a necessarily a bad thing.

Who will have the best season of these guys?  Even though Walden led the league in blown saves last year he still will be the guy this year.  Averaging almost 98 with his fastball, he is no longer a rookie and should cut his blown saves in half.  I see him getting to 40 easy this year like I said above and continue to have a sterling ERA.  I don't thin i will be able to get him in the 20th round this year.   

Record 99-63, 1st in the American League West

Next up:  Los Angeles Dodgers

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