Team Preview #21: Los Angeles Angels
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2018 Record: 102-60, 1st Place AL West, Won 2018 World Series
2018 was another banner year for the Angels and their fans. They took home their 3rd title in the last 4 years, steamrolling through October with a pair of sweeps. Will 2019 see the City of Angels take home yet another ring?
RP Trevor Rosenthal (FA)
RP Zach Thornton (BOS via Trade)
RP Anthony Meo (FA)
LF Hideyori Kuwabara (FA)
RP Brett Cecil (FA)
RP Aroldis Chapman (FA)
RP Fautino De Los Santos (FA)
RP Kenley Jansen (FA)
C Jackson Williams (FA)
Offensively, what’s not to like with the Angels. They were 2nd in the AL in scoring last year with a mix of power and speed while leading the AL with a .351 team OBP. Honestly, I don’t think that outcome is even their ceiling. A pair of All-Star OF lead the way, CF Mike Trout (.304, 71 SB in 100 G) and Nomar Mazara (.326, 20 HR, 95 RBI). Joining them in the lineup are a trio of power bats, 3B Kaleb Cowart (.284, 33 HR), 1B Albert Pujols (.291, 26 HR, 100 RBI) and DH Masutaro Ohayashi (32 HR, 104 RBI). Helping set the table is All-Star 2B Daniel Paolini (.285, 105 R) and rounding out the lineup is C Charles Cutler (.278, 29 2B), LF Jing-Bo Xun (19 HR) and slick-fielding rookie SS Anthony Kerr (.340 across AA & AAA last year)
On the mound the Angels are good, but not nearly as impressive as their lineup. Ryan Copeland (17-4, 2.54 ERA) leads the way. #2 man Jordan Lyles (14-8, 3.29 ERA) tested the market but returned on a 1-year deal. 24-year-old Kyle Funkhouser (3-4 n 12 GS) should fill the 3rd spot with Brandon Morrow (13-7, 3.61 ERA) wild-yet-effective Chris Archer (3.84 ERA in 15 GS) roudning it out. 24-year-old Kevin Gausman (4.50 ERA in 32 IP) and 25-year-old Michael Fulmer (4-7) wait in the wings as a players the Angels would like to see grab a rotation spot. The bullpen is in transition with the departures of Chapman, De Los Santos and Jansen. Takaaki Ichikawa (34 Sv, 3.22 ERA) will be the closer and some subset of Paul Erickson (10-6, 14 Holds), FA Pickup Trevor Rosenthal (16 Sv), Tanner Scheppers (1.21 ERA in 59.1 IP) and Armando Romero (3.10 ERA). Righty Matt Nevarez (2.80 career ERA) missed all of 2018, but returns as well.
Well, I’d be a fool to say things aren’t looking good for the Angels in 2019. But I do think they’re not going to be quite as dominant. The offense will still have games where they’ll just blast the other team, but the Angels ride their pen pretty hard – only Copeland routinely pitches into the 7th – and that part of their team certainly isn’t as impressive as it previously was.
I think it’s another division title for the Angels, but not the 100-win behemoth of the last 4 years, I’m thinking 96-66. That lack of home-field in the ALCS will also come home to roost as they won’t make it past their opponent there and into the World Series