Search This Blog

Saturday, March 2, 2013

2013 Season Previews, Part 20: Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
2012 Record: 89-73
Pythag Record: 88-74
Games Out of First: 5.0

Top Performers by WAR:

1. Mike Trout, 10.7
2. Torii Hunter, 5.5
3. Albert Pujols, 4.6
4. Erick Aybar, 4.0
5. Alberto Callaspo, 3.2

Time to take a breather here as we've reached the top 10.  A very important player has come up here: Mike Trout.  If you want to call him the "Poster Boy of WAR" that's fine by me.  By the metric, he had a legendary season (not just good...LEGENDARY).  To all of the WAR haters and supporters, let's try to remember: WAR is an approximation of value.  Like any kind of approximation, it comes with a margin of error.  What does this mean?  Well, it means Trout may have been worse than the number that came out for him (a favorite argument of the anti-WAR crowd).  However, it also means that Trout could have been...better.  Let that soak in before how much you decide you love or hate WAR.

2012 Recap

If Mike Trout is up in the beginning of the season, they make the playoffs.  Whether you love WAR or not, Trout changed the dynamic of the 2012 Angels.  The club won 8 games in the month of April and wound up winning 89 games as a team.  When you break down the numbers, the Angels were really good.  They were 2nd in team wRC+ (112), 2nd in team UZR (44.9), and 16th in team ERA.  Had Trout been on the team and had Pujols not gotten off to a .570 OPS start in April, I have to imagine the Angels would have finished well in front of everyone in team wRC+ and would have walked away with 95 wins.  However, that's a lot of "ifs" and "ifs" don't win ballgames.  When it comes down to it, the Angels just didn't win enough games.

Off Season Recap

This off season can pretty much be summed up in one move for the Angels: they took money they should have probably given to Zack Greinke and gave it to Josh Hamilton.  Outside of that, the team basically only saw significant change in its rotation.  They let Dan Haren go after a trade with the Cubs fell through and flipped Jordan Walden to Atlanta for starter Tommy Hanson. Here's a summary of what they did:


OF Josh Hamilton
SP Tommy Hanson
SP Jason Vargas
SP Joe Blanton


SP Zack Greinke
SP Dan Haren
RP Jordan Walden
RF Torii Hunter
DH Kendrys Morales

2013 Outlook 

To say there is a lot of talent on this team is an understatement.  Offensively, they have what could be three legitimate AL MVP candidates (Trout, Pujols, Hamilton).  For depth they bring Howie Kendrick, Alberto Callaspo, Erick Aybar, Peter Bourjos, and Mark Trumbo who all have had/are capable of having 3 WAR seasons.  While I think Trout is going to come down just a bit (oh no, he might be a 7 or 8 WAR player instead of 10) and Hamilton and Pujols will be just slightly worse than they have in the past (gasp, more 4 and 5 WAR players), this offense is going to score a lot.  They will also be able to go out and get the ball.  With Bourjos and Trout in the same outfield, it really doesn't matter who has to play the third spot.  Where everything will boil down for the Angels is in the pitching staff.  They need their starters to all have good seasons.  The pitchers on the staff generally pitch to contact, which means the quality of the Angel defense will constantly be tested.  However, as long as the staff keeps the ball in the yard where this group can go get it, these pitchers will be just fine.  Here are some keys:

1. Mike Trout- Let's face some facts here.  If this kid had a "sophomore slump" it would still be a 4 WAR season.  No matter how much you think Trout is going to fall off, he has to come down a looooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooong way to not be an All-Star caliber presence.  If he can come close to repeating last year, just give the Angels the West right now.

2. Tommy Hanson/C.J. Wilson- These guys turning things around will be the difference between a 94ish win Angel team and a 100ish win Angel team.  If this duo has a big year, the Angels are going to be the best team in the AL bar none.  It would give them three quality arms at the top of the rotation with the best defense and arguably the best offense behind them.

3. Mike Scioscia- I know he likes to play small ball, but he really needs to avoid doing this.  This team is going to get on base and steal lots of bases on its own.  Sacrifices really don't have a place in the Angel lineup.  If he lets the reigns go and allows these guys to play like they can without taking the bats out of their own hands, he'll be the manager of the year.

Potential Breakout Player

No good candidates here.  Veteran-laden squad with no regulars that are new, really.  Every regular is established.

Potential Bust Player

Josh Hamilton, RF

I've been pretty vocal in terms of how little I like Josh Hamilton going forward.  Contrary to popular belief, he hasn't just had his success because of Arlington.  While he was great at home in Texas, he was also fantastic on the road.  What scares me about Hamilton isn't the change in home park.  It's the change in his strikeout rate.  The previous two seasons, Hamilton sat around 17%.  In 2012, that number jumped up to 25%!  Defensively he's also become a bit of a liability (but as I said earlier, with Trout and Bourjos out there with him, he'll be responsible for the equivalent of a sliver of that outfield).

Starting Nine and Starting Rotation

C- Chris Iannetta
1B- Albert Pujols
2B- Howie Kendrick
SS- Erick Aybar
3B- Alberto Callaspo
LF- Mike Trout (something I didn't mention, Trout's value will automatically go down due to position change)
CF- Peter Bourjos
RF- Josh Hamilton
DH- Mark Trumbo

*takes a second to clean drool*

SP- Jered Weaver
SP- C.J. Wilson
SP- Tommy Hanson
SP- Jason Vargas
SP- Joe Blanton


Record: 94-68
Team MVP: Mike Trout, 7.3 WAR

Lasting Thought

With the rave reviews I just gave the Angels, the record might surprise you.  The issue for Los Angeles is that they compete with Oakland, Texas, and Seattle in the same division.  Even with Houston coming in, that's a lot of competition.  As far as the direction of the team, it's clear that they want to spend money and compete with the Dodgers for fans and dollars in the Los Angeles area.  They've got a lot of potential talent, and there will be huge story lines if this team fails to make the post season.

No comments:

Post a Comment