The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim have been one of the few teams to have been active in the “Cold Stove” offseason off 2017-2018. Some trades and signings along with being the chosen destination of Shohei Ohtani whom was previously cover. The Angels will be looking to push forward and reach the Post Season and try to win the World Series.
As one of the only teams to have been aggressive in this market the Angels have signed some very valuable pieces to add to the established core surrounding Mike Trout. The Angels made a move to acquire Justin Upton last trade deadline and completed an extension for 5 years and $105M. A good move as Upton is a top 3 Left Fielder in all of baseball (Stay tuned later this week for My Top 10 Left Fielders Right Now).
The Angels outfield of Trout, Upton and Kole Calhoun produced 59 homeruns and 158 RBI’s (Only counting Upton’s stats in Anaheim). This outfield will look to anchor the lineup in 2018 with FanGraphs projecting a combined 91 homeruns and 277 RBI’s plus a combined WAR (Wins Above Replacement) of nearly 14.
However, while the outfield will get a lot of praise for their offensive prowesses it will be the infield defense that will steal the show out in Anaheim. As the “Defensive Wizard” Andrelton Simmons will now have some company in the defensive ranks as underrated defender Ian Kinsler was acquired via trade from the Detroit Tigers and Zack Cozart was signed via free agency. These defensive stalwarts will lock it down and make it nearly impossible to get a groundball through the infield.
The Angels have the makings of a team ready to really compete with 2 potential Ace’s in Shoehi Ohtani and Garrett Richards. Richards only pitched 27.2 innings due too injury in 2017 but look for 2018 to be healthy and full season for Richards. Tyler Skaggs and Parker Bridwell will continue to progress and mature in their developments as pitchers. The 6 Man Rotation will have a beneficial effect on all the Angels starters in terms of sustaining health throughout 2018 and beyond.
The Angels have put together a solid team for 2018 signing Jim Johnson to help add another arm to an underrated bullpen in Anaheim. While the addition of Johnson helps the Angels should look to add another arm or two to help solidify that very bullpen. Because as the game has changed and has become more heavily bullpen oriented the depth in the Angels bullpen needs fortification. The signing of Jim Johnson is a nice start though the numbers from 2017 may not show it. The Angels are going to need more, a guy like Greg holland who can lock down the 9th inning for this team would be a truly viable option. Potentially a guy like Xavier Cedeno who can be called upon to deal with tough lefty batters like Joey Gallo from the Texas Rangers or Robinson Cano or Kyle Seager from the Seattle Mariners.
The Angels are a ball club that have a real chance to compete for a Wild Card spot in 2018. However, they are in the same division as the reigning World Series Champion Houston Astros. The division will be a more difficult task to conquer as the Astros having just deepened their own aspirations for winning another World Series with the acquisition of Gerrit Cole are a better team overall. The Astros also have to address some bullpen issues which can allow the Angels a window of opportunity if they are willing to strike. The Angels have made splashy signings before that haven’t worked out well i.e. Josh Hamilton and to some degree the Albert Pujols deal.
However, the Angels can compete in 2018, they are anchored by the best player in MLB in Mike Trout. Trout has been a perennial MVP candidate since he entered the league full time in 2012. Trout has accumulated a total WAR of 55.2 which places him at number tied for 234th place All Time. Who is he tied with you ask ? Hall of Fame candidate Jeff Kent. In 7 seasons in the league Mike Trout has already accrued the same statistical marks as a man who played a total of 17 seasons in the Majors. We are witnessing greatness when it comes to Trout. And the Angels reaching the Post Season would place Trout on full display for a National audience.
The Angels should remain aggressive in the Free Agent and Trade Markets for more reinforcements for the pitching staff. This strategy will give the Angels the best opportunity to deploy Ohtani to the utmost potential, give the defense the chance to show their impenetrable nature and allow the heart of the team Mike Trout to shine like a “Halo”.