Los Angeles Angels
The Angels have regressed in each of the last two seasons. They finished 4th in the AL West 21 games off the pace. It was their lowest win total since 1999 (70-92). LA allowed 52 more runs than 2015 (675) while their offense gained 56 runs. Los Angeles ranked 6th in the American League in runs (717), but they struggled to hit HRs (156 – 14th).
In the offseason, the Angels lost SP Jered Weaver, SP C.J. Wilson, SP Tim Lincecum, and C Geovany Soto to free agency. They retained IF Yunel Escobar and RP Andrew Bailey. LA acquired OF Cameron Maybin from the Tigers for SP Victor Alcantara. Los Angeles added IF Danny Espinosa from the Nationals for SP Kyle McGowin and RP Austin Adams. C Jett Bandy was traded to the Brewers for C Martin Maldonado and RP Drew Gagnon. IF Luis Valbuena was added for depth in the infield.
LA finished 12th in the American League in ERA (4.28). Their bullpen ranked 18th in ERA (3.77) with 24 wins, 22 losses, and 29 saves.
The depth behind OF Mike Trout in the starting lineup looks mediocre after OF Kole Calhoun and DH Albert Pujols while the bench looks to have more power and experience.
Their starting rotation looks to be in transition while their bullpen lacks impact arms. I don’t expect a great season from the Angels in 2017.
1. OF Cameron Maybin
The Angels desperately need someone to take the leadoff job and run with it. Cameron is a former first round draft pick that has failed to live up to expectation while rarely staying healthy for a full season. He’ll turn 30 in early April, and he’s in a contract year. In 2016, Maybin spent the first six weeks of the season on the DL with a left wrist injury, which he suffered in early March. Cameron hit over .275 in every month in 2016 while delivering empty at bats on many nights. Over his first 145 at bats of the season, Maybin hit .358 with one HRs, 21 RBI, and eight SBs. He suffered a left thumb injury in August leading to another trip to the DL. Cameron had success against RH (.323) and LH (.296) pitching with improvement in his K rate (17.7) and walk rate (9.2). His swing path delivers too many ground balls (56.5 in 2016 and 55.9 in his career) to expect a huge step forward in power. He had a low HR/FB rate (6.7), which was partly due to his wrist and thumb injuries. If he repeats his approach, Maybin will be given the leadoff opportunity in LA. His jump in success in batting average was due to a huge step forward in his CTBA (.393). Excellent backend gamble while offering a 10/30 skill set. I expect him to have his best season of his career.
2. OF Kole Calhoun
Calhoun has benefited from hitting in front of Mike Trout over the last three seasons. His AVH (1.615) remains in a tight range, which gives him a 20 HR opportunity. He showed growth in his walk rate (10.0) with improvement of his K rate (17.6 – career best). Kole did a nice job against lefties (.290 with six HRs and 24 RBI over 155 at bats). Calhoun played his best ball over the three months of the season (.288 with 10 HRs, 42 RBI, and two SBs over 299 at bats). He seemed to lose his way in July and August (.234 with three HRs and 17 RBI over 197 at bats) while regaining his power stroke in September (.296 with five HRs and 16 RBI). In his career, Kole has done a nice job with runners on base (16 percent RBI rate), but his chances (369) tend to be low due to a weak player hitting at the top of the Angels lineup. His HR/FB rate (9.4) was the lowest of his career. After the season, Calhoun had surgery to repair a core muscle, which may have been part of the reason for his fade in power. Nice player with a chance to score over 100 runs with 20+ HRs and 80+ RBI. With a slight rebound in his CTBA (.338), Kole should offer a slight edge in batting average.
3. OF Mike Trout
The upside of Trout is just insane. He turned into a walk machine (116) in 2016 due to a career high walk rate (17.0). His ability to take walks has led to Mike leading the AL in runs scored in four of the last five years. He’s scored over 100 runs in five straight seasons. His RBI total hasn’t been as impactful due to weakness in front of his in the starting lineup. Last year he had the most RBI chances (419) of his career with a winning RBI rate (17). His CTBA (.420) has been over .400 in every year in the majors, which points to future batting titles. His AVH (1.746) came in short of his last two years (2014 – 1.919 and 2015 – 1.971). His GB rate (41.2) has risen in back-to-back years while posting a shorter FB rate (36.7). Even with a downtick in HRs (29), Trout had his third highest HR/FB rate (19.0) of his career. He even had a rebound in his SBs, which completes his skill set. Mike is just reaching the prime of his career. Next step: a 40/40 season with a batting title. As good as it gets in the Fantasy world, enjoy one hell of a ride.
4. 1B Albert Pujols
When looking at Pujols for the 2017 season, one number should shine through. By batting behind Mike Trout, Albert had a major league high 525 RBI chances. Trout was on base 260 times in front of him (173 hits + 116 walks – 29 HRs). Pujols continues to be tough to strike out (11.5) while his walk rate (7,5) has been well below his career average (11.5) over the last six seasons. His HR/FB rate (15.0) has been below his career average in four of the last five seasons with a slight uptick in his GB rate (43.9). After a short April in batting average (.176), Albert hit .285 with 25 HRs and 104 RBI. He had the most success against lefties (.279 with nine HRs and 30 RBI over 140 at bats). Pujols needs 175 hits to reach 3000 and nine HRs to reach 600. He’s driven in over 100 runs 13 times in his career. His loss of foot speed and lower CTBA (.307) does limit his upside in batting average. Hall of Fame player with one of the best RBI chances in the majors. His swing and experience should lead to another 30+ HR season. Overlooked in the early draft season with an ADP of 127 as the 15th first baseman off the table.
5. 1B C.J. Cron
Cron started off slow in April (.203 with one HR and four RBI) while falling to get full time ta bats. His bat had more life in May (.286 with four HRs, 20 RBI, and one SB over 91 at bats). He hit .303 in June with short production (one HR and nine RBI), but the Angels refused to put him in the starting lineup every day. C.J. broke his left hand in early July leading to six weeks on the DL. With full time at bats in September, Cron hit .240 with two HRs and nine RBI over 104 at bats. His bat had the most value against RH pitching (.290 with 14 HRs and 56 RBI over 314 at bats). He needs to improve against lefties (.236 in 2016 - .252 in his career). His HR/FB rate (12.1) was shorter than his previous two seasons. Over six seasons in the minors, C.J. hit .291 with 67 HRs, 305 RBI, and 14 SBs over 1490 at bats. Cron had growth in his K rate (16.9) in 2016 with a short walk rate (5.4). Cron has surgery on his left thumb at the end of October. If LA gives him 550 at bats, 25+ HRs and 80+ RBI with a neutral batting average should be expected.
6. 3B Yunel Escobar
Yunel has hit over .300 in back-to-back seasons while delivering minimal HRs (5) and RBI (39). Escobar has a low K rate (11.8) with his third year of regression in his walk rate (7.1). He hit well against both RH (.301) and LH (.314) pitching. From May through August, Yunel hit .330 with no HRs and only 27 RBI. This was disappointing after hitting three HRs over 96 at bats in April. Escobar has a rising ground ball rate (58.1) with a short HR/FB rate (5.3). With a fading AVH (1.287), Yunel has no value in the Fantasy market. His on-base average (.355) isn’t high enough to command a full job at the top of the order plus he lacks any value in speed. One trick pony with his batting average not being a lock if his CTBA (.349) fades to his 2012 (.289), 2013 (.299), and 2014 (.296) form. Player to avoid.
7. 2B Danny Espinosa
I’m still pissed at Espinosa for playing well last June (.309 with nine HRs, 21 RBI, and two SBs over 81 at bats). I owned SS Trea Turner in one important league. The success of Danny led to Turner coming up later than expected. Over the first two months, Espinosa hit .199 with six HRs and 20 RBI with 46 Ks (23.7 percent). Over the second half of the year, he hit .186 with nine HRs, 31 RBI, and five SBs over 269 at bats. During this stretch, Danny struck out 107 times (34.7 percent of the time). His bat had no value vs. righties (.212) and lefties (.202). Espinosa did hit 24 HRs with reasonable runs (66) and RBI (72). He finished with a career-high in his HR/FB rate (17.1) with a change in his swing path (43.1 percent fly ball rate). Tough to believe his bat is worthy of an everyday role.
8. C Carlos Perez
Perez had a huge drop in his CTBA (.256) leading to much shorter batting average (.209). His K rate (16.8) improved slightly with a step back in his walk rate (4.1). Carlos has similar failure against lefties (.208) and righties (.209). His only month of value came in July (.333 with two HRs and 10 RBI). Over nine years in the minors, he hit .282 with 25 HRs, 275 RBI, and 30 SBs over 2045 at bats. Perez did play well over short at bats (39) at AAA in 2016 (.359 with three HRs and 10 RBI). Not a lock to earn a starting job. With 450 at bats, 10 HRs with 50 RBI may be reachable.
9. SS Andrelton Simmons
Simmons is one of the toughest players to strike out in the majors (7.9 percent – career best) with a below par walk rate (5.8). His CTBA (.307) remains low while improving in each of the last three seasons. He posted identical stats in HRs (4) and RBI (44) over the last two seasons. His low AVH (1.302) leads to minimal upside in power even with a big swing. Andrelton played well over the last three months of the season (.312 with three HRs, 33 RBI, and nine SBs over 285 at bats) with his surge in power coming in September (three HRs). Simmons broke his left thumb in early May leading to five weeks on the DL. His swing continues to deliver a high volume of ground balls (54.9 – 51.4 in his career). His HR/FB rate (3.8) remains in a losing area. His 17 HRs in 2013 still stand out on his major-league resume plus Andrelton flashed a little more speed in his minor-league career (55 SBs over 954 at bats). To the stats guru, there isn’t a ton of excitement here. From the scouting side, Simmons could pop soon. Talented player with a plus glove. Bench flier with double digit HRs and steals within reach with an improved swing path.
BN: Luis Valbuena
Valbuena has a more stable bat than Danny Espinosa and his swing offers way more upside than Yunel Escobar. Over the last three years, Luis hit 54 HRs with 146 RBI over 1208 at bats. His K rate (23.7) was a career high while taking a high volume of walks (12.9) for the fifth straight year. Most of his power comes against RH pitching (70 over 2074 at bats). From May through July, Valbuena hit .280 with 13 HRs and 36 RBI over 232 at bats. His season ended in late July due to a hamstring injury that required surgery. His ability to hit HRs will give him a chance at 450+ at bats while filling in multiple position in the infield.
C Martin Maldonado – Over six years in the majors, Martin hit .217 with 28 HRs and 111 RBI over 965 at bats. He’s never had a starting job in the big leagues with his success coming in his rookie season in 2012 (.266 with eight HRs and 30 RBI over 233 at bats). He had a spike in his walk rate (13.8 – nine intention walks) in 2016 with some growth in his K rate (22.1). Maldonado hit seven of his HRs off RH pitching while coming up short in batting average (.188). Possible starter with double digit power and batting average risk with 400+ at bats.
IF Cliff Pennington – Cliff is expected to be the utility infielder on the Angels in 2017. In his major-league career, Pennington hit .243 with 33 HRs, 221 RBI, and 81 SBs over 2576 at bats. Last year he battled a hamstring injury that led to two months on the DL. Fading bat with no upside if needed to start.
OF Ben Revere – After one game in 2016, Revere was on the DL for a month with an oblique injury. He struggled in May (.170 with one HR, six RBI, and two SBs). Ben only had one more of value (June - .274 with seven RBI and eight SBs). Over the last three months of the season, Revere hit his way out of the starting lineup (.218 with one HR, 11 RBI, and four SBs over 170 at bats). Over the previous five seasons, Ben hit over .300 with 156 SBs. In the mix for a starting job and possibly the leadoff slot.
OF Jefry Marte – In his first chance to get at bats in the majors, Marte handled himself well (.252 with 15 HRs, 44 RBI, and two SBs over 258 at bats). His K rate (20.8) came in league average with a short walk rate (6.3). Over nine seasons in the minors, Jefry hit .259 with 62 HRs, 392 RBI, and 62 SBs over 3094 at bats. Last year he played 1B, 3B, and OF. Nice bench option with enough talent to work his way into a semi at bats.
1. SP Garrett Richards
Richards was only able to make six starts in 2016 due to a right elbow injury (UCL tear). He decided not to have TJ surgery, which is always a risky decision. Here’s a look at last season profile: Richards lost some value in 2015 after his breakthrough season in 2014 (13-4 with a 2.61 ERA). Garrett was limited in spring training with a left knee issue (patellar) that required surgery the previous August. He ended up only missing one start. He showed growth in his first pitch strike rate (60 - 55.4 in 2014), but his walk rate (3.3) had regression (2.7 in 2014) leading to a shorter K rate (7.6). His arm had the most value against LH batters (.226) with solid success against righties (.247). Most of his failure in walks came in September (26 in 46.1 innings - 5.1), but he still pitched well (3.11 ERA). Overall in 2015, Richards didn't dominate in any month while struggling in August (5.17 ERA) when LA was free falling in the standings. His AFB (95.5) remained elite with a slight step back from 2014 (96.3). He leans on his slider (.194 BAA) as his number two pitch followed by a upside curveball (.192). In his breakout season in 2014, Garrett threw his two-seam fastball about 43.9 percent of the time, which helped the value of his four-seam fastball (.221). Last year he threw his two-seam fastball only 21.5 percent of the time leading to less value by both fastball options (two-seam [.290] and four-seam [.255]). Richards has a rising GB rate (54.9) leading a short FB rate (28.0). His regression in his two-seam fastball led to huge spike in his HR/FB rate (12.0 - 3.9 in 2014). Explosive arm with more upside with better command. Locating his fastball will be the key to his success in 2016. If he ever figures out how to throw an above average off-speed pitch, Garrett could have CY Young upside. Possible sub 3.00 ERA with 200+ Ks. His high volume of slider could eventually lead to TJ surgery. I’m always hesitate to invest in a pitcher with injury risk. These elbow injuries don’t go away. He’s expected to be ready for spring training. Buyer beware…. Garrett has an ADP of 257 in the early draft season in 15 team leagues.
2. SP Matt Shoemaker
Shoemaker pitched his way out of the rotation for one start after a disastrous April (9.15 ERA). He threw the ball well in his one start at AAA (one run allowed over six innings with eight Ks). After a below par outing in May (seven runs and 16 baserunners over nine innings), Fantasy owners grew weary of his future value leading to a trip to the free agent pool in the Fantasy market. The light bulb clicked on in his next two starts (two runs over 15.2 innings with no walks and 23 Ks). Over a seven-game stretch including his two elite starts, Shoemaker had 1.87 ERA with 68 Ks over 57.2 innings. Over the next two months, Matt had a 3.66 ERA with 51 Ks over 71.1 innings. His season ended in September after getting hit by a line drive. He had an elite walk rate (1.7) with a K rate (8.0) that fell in line with his resume. Shoemaker didn’t have an edge over RH (.270) and LH (.263) batters. He had a low FB rate (36.5) with a spike in his LD rate (23.7). His AFB (92.3) was the best of his career. His velocity was down in April (91.6). Matt throws a split-finger fastball (.193 BAA) as his number one pitch. Batters had success against both his four-seam (.301) and two-seam (.348) fastballs. Control pitcher that has an edge when he’s pitching ahead in the count. His success at times in 2016 was helped by an improved first pitch strike rate (68.5). Possible 3.75 ERA with a career high in Ks.
3. SP Tyler Skaggs
Skaggs was electric in his quest to get back to the majors last season. Over 49.2 innings in the minors, he had a 1.60 ERA with only eight walks and 53 Ks. Tyler dominated in his first two starts back in the majors (no runs over 12.1 innings with 13 Ks). He struggled in his next four outing (19 runs and 40 base runners over 17.2 innings) due to a loss in command (11 walks). Skaggs rebounded in his next three starts (three runs over 18 innings with 21 Ks). He developed a forearm issue in mid-September, which ignited fears of another elbow injury. The Angels gave a Tyler a start in October, which fell into the disaster category (one runs and six baserunners over 1.2 innings). His AFB (93.4) was the best of his young career. Batters struggled against his curveball (.170 BAA). Over seven season in the minors, Skaggs had a 3.23 ERA with 599 Ks over 541 innings. Upside arm who may need one year to reach his full potential. This year I can’t see over 150 innings. Possible 150+ Ks with a sub 3.50 ERA. If he has any negative news this spring, Tyler is off the draft list.
4. SP Ricky Nolasco
Nolasco pitched well over his 11 starts with the Angels (3.21 ERA). Prior to the trade to LA, Ricky had a 5.13 ERA with 93 Ks over 124.2 innings. He didn’t allow an earned run over his last 21 innings on the year with 16 Ks. Nolasco allowed four runs or more in 14 of his 32 starts. He struggled with righties (.278 with 18 HRs over 417 at bats). His AFB (91.1) was close to his last three seasons. Ricky had the most success with his split-finger fastball (.232 BAA) and his slow curveball (.204 BAA). He threw a slider as his top pitch (.249 BAA) while four-seam (.317) and two-seam (.284) had downside risk. Veteran arm with more risk than reward. Over 279 starts in the majors, he has a 4.53 ERA. Do I need to say more?
5. SP Jesse Chavez
Based on the Angels roster in mid-January, Chavez may be asked to be a gap starter in 2017. Over 67 innings as a reliever in 2016, Jesse had a 4.43 ERA with his struggled tied to 18 HRs allowed (1.6 per nine). He finished with his lowest walk rate (2.4) of his career with respectable Ks (8.5 per nine). Chavez struggled with lefties (.307 BAA). In his career as a starting pitcher in the majors, he has 4.14 ERA with 256 Ks over 284.2 innings. His AFB (94.1) gained value in the bullpen. Jesse had success with his cutter (.238 BAA) and curveball (.185) while batter crushed his four-seam (.328 BA) and two-seam (.539 BAA) fastballs. Low upside arm with possible short-term value if he’s throwing strikes.
6. SP Andrew Heaney
After making one start in 2016, Heaney landed on the DL with a left forearm injury. He tried a platelet-rich plasma injection to no avail leading to TJ surgery at the end June. Even with a fast recovery, his arm will have minimal value in 2017. Here’s his profiles headed in 2016: Heaney looked like an elite upside arm prior to him pitching at AAA. Over the last two years, Andrew went 11-6 at AAA with a 5.22 ERA and 165 Ks in 162 innings. He had a rough spring training leading to a trip back to the minors. Heaney pitched well in his nine starts at AAA (3.02 ERA with 49 Ks in 50.2 innings). Over a five-game stretch in late May and in early June, he allowed 24 runs and 52 base runners in 27.2 innings. The Angels needed a starter late in June and Heaney received the call. His lack of success led to some (including me) Fantasy owners avoiding Andrew when he was called up. He allowed two runs or fewer in nine of first 10 starts back in the majors (2.43 ERA with 44 Ks in 63 innings). The Blue Jays ripped him for eight runs and 10 base runners in 3.1 innings on August 22nd. Heaney finished the year with a 3.66 ERA in his last seven starts with 31 Ks in 39.1 innings. Heaney had strength vs. lefties (.228) with just above league average success against RH batters (.255). His AFB (91.4) was better than 2014 (90.4) in the majors. His number two pitch was a plus curveball (.174) followed closely by a changeup (.274) than had less value. Over four seasons in the minors, Andrew went 25-13 with a 3.22 ERA and 336 Ks in 338 innings. He had a solid walk rate (2.5) in the minors with a solid K rate (8.9). His walk rate (2.4) was repeated at the major-league level, but his K rate (6.6) was much less than expected. Solid minor league resume with a half season of success in the majors, which points to further growth in 2016. This former first round draft pick (9th overall in 2012) has a chance to be a nice Fantasy option this season with improvement in his changeup. Andrew may emerge as an option in September, but I tend to avoid pitchers coming off elbow surgeries.
7. SP John Lamb
Over 24 starts in the majors, Lamb has a 2-12 record with a 6.17 ERA and 116 Ks over 119.2 innings. He’s allowed 22 HRs in his major league career (1.7 per nine). RH batters hit .311 against him with 12 HRs over 209 at bats). Over six starts in June (3.09 ERA with 27 Ks over 35 innings), John threw the ball well. Lamb had surgery in late October to repair a herniated disk in his back. Over eight seasons in the minors, he had a 3.74 ERA with 626 Ks over 652 innings. John is expected to start the year on the DL. His arm may bounce back if the back issue was the reason for his failure in 2016.
Last summer Cam was closer-worthy. He didn’t allow a run over 22.1 innings in June and July with only five walks and 30 Ks. Just when he had a chance at closing, Bedrosian landed on the DL with a blood clot issue that required surgery. Cam dominated righties (.173 BAA) with more K ability against LH batters (34 over 70 at bats). His walk rate (3.1) still needs work, but it was much improved in 2016. This led to a jump in his K rate (11.4). His AFB (96.0) was electric with solid success (.226 BAA). His best pitch is a slider (.164 BAA). Over six seasons in the minors, Bedrosian had a less than stellar resume (4.38 ERA with 274 Ks over 246.2 innings). His lack of success was due to 4.5 walks allowed per nine innings. His fastball screams 9th inning, but I’ve lost this battle many times in high stakes Fantasy career. Experience tends to win over fastball with a veteran manager.
Street just about pitched his way to the curb in 2016, but the Angels still owe him $9 million. Batters hit .337 against him with five HRs over 92 at bats. He has no answer to righties (.388 with five HRs over 49 at bats). Houston pitched well over his first 10 outings (one run over 8.2 innings with four Ks and five saves). His AFB (88.7) was a career low with three straight seasons of regression. Street had season-ending knee surgery last August. Earlier in his year, he had an oblique issue. His failed season was due to injuries, but his arm isn’t where it once was. With 324 saves on his resume, Huston should get the first shot at saves even though he isn’t the best arm in the bullpen.
Bailey had a squirrelly resume in 2016, but he pitched well in September (2.38 ERA over 11.1 innings with eight Ks) when asked to close (six saves). His arm looked dead in the water over 18 appearances in June and July (19 runs and 32 base runners over 18.1 innings), which led to a trip back to AAA to recharge his batteries. His AFB (92.8) is well below his top value in 2012 (95.1). Bailey has above league value with all three of his pitches (four-seam - .232 BAA, curveball - .250 BAA, and cutter - .256 BAA). Worth a flier if the spring training reports are positive.
Baseball America Prospect Handbook. (n.d.).
Baseball-Reference. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.baseball-reference.com/
Brooksbaseball.net. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.brooksbaseball.net/
Fangraphs. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.fangraphs.com/
Roster Resource. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.rosterresource.com/mlb
Rotowire. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.rotowire.com/
RotoWorld. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.rotoworld.com/
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