clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Let's Go Tribe's American League Preview: Los Angeles Angels

Our look at the Tribe's competition around the American League continues with the Angels, who have baseball's best player and baseball's worst contract.

Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

Between now and Opening Day, we'll be taking a look at each of the other American League teams, to see what they've done during the offseason, and examine their outlook for 2014.

Find other entries in the series here

- - - - - -

Los Angeles Angels

2013 Record: 78-84 (3rd in AL West), 2-4 vs. Cleveland

733 runs scored (6th of 15 in AL), 737 runs allowed (11th of 15 in AL)

The Angels were a good team in 2012, narrowly missing the playoffs after getting one of the greatest rookie season in MLB history from Mike Trout, who went from the minor leagues to being baseball's best players in a matter of months. They went out and signed Josh Hamilton, giving them another big bat in the lineup, and seemed poised for a very big year. Heck, I picked them to win the World Series. Well, I guess that shows what I know.

The Angels tripped coming out of the starting gate, lost 8 of their first 10 games, and never really recovered. Trout was again incredible (and at the end of the season he was again denied the MVP by voters stuck on team success and RBI totals), putting up a .988 OPS despite playing most of his games in pitchers' parks (good for a 179 OPS+), but no one else in the lineup hit especially well. Pujols was okay (116 OPS+), but he missed 63 games, and his contract (which pays him another $212 million over the next 8 seasons) is going to be an absolute disaster for the Angels. Hamilton stayed healthy, but was little better than average (108 OPS+), and he's still owed another $107 million over the next 4 years. Think about this:

In 2017 the Angels will pay a 37-year-old Pujols and a 36-year Hamilton a combined $58 million.

Jered Weaver missed almost two months with a fractured elbow and had the worst year of his career, while C.J. Wilson turned in his second straight mediocre season after being signed two winters ago. None of the team's other starters were even average, and the bullpen was weak.

There's a lot of talent on the roster, but it sure didn't come together last year.

Key offseason additions:

David Freese (3B), Raul Ibanez (DH), Hector Santiago (SP), Tyler Skaggs (SP), Joe Smith (RP)

Key offseason departures:

Mark Trumbo (OF), Peter Bourjos (OF), Jason Vargas (SP)

2014 Payroll: ~$152 million

Projected 2014 Starting Lineup (with ZiPS fWAR projection):



Projected WAR


Chris Iannetta



Albert Pujols



Howie Kendrick



David Freese



Erick Aybar



Josh Hamilton



Mike Trout



Kole Calhoun



Raul Ibanez




I don't recall ever seeing a player projected for 10 WAR before.

Indian who has killed the Angels:

Jason Giambi - .268/.398/.511, .909 OPS, 28 HR in 599 PA (it feels like a cheat to include Giambi, given that most of that production came more than a decade ago and I don't expect him to clear 100 plate appearances this year, but there's no one else on the Tribe with an OPS better than .766 against the Angels)

Angel who has killed the Indians:

Josh Hamilton - .299/.373/.541, .914 OPS, 12 HR in 220 PA

Projected 2014 Starting Rotation/Bullpen (with ZiPS fWAR projection):



Projected WAR


Jered Weaver



C.J. Wilson



Garrett Richards



Hector Santiago



Tyler Skaggs







2014 Outlook:

I don't know what to make of the Angels. On the one hand, they are largely the same team they were 12 months ago, when I thought they'd go on to win the World Series. Their lineup is roughly equal, and their pitching looks mildly improved. On the other hand, they are largely the same team that only won 78 games last season. Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton may each have entered the steep decline phase of their career, Jered Weaver might not be elite anymore, and C.J. Wilson might just be average.

Average is the word that comes to mind when I look at Los Angels' roster... until you come across Mike Trout. Can one player really propel a team from average to playoff contention? In the NBA, one player can take a team from very bad to playoff contention, or from average to great, but in baseball, when you only get to bat every ninth time, and only a small fraction of balls will be hit in your general direction, it's much harder to have that kind of impact. If you look at team projections, or add up projected WAR figures (though that's not the best approach), the Angels look like a team that's going to win cose to 90 games, and fight for the division title. Maybe I'm just feeling snake-bitten after my prediction last year was so far off, but when I look at them right now, I see a team that wins more than it loses, but not enough to make the postseason.

PECOTA Projection: 87-75 (2nd in AL West), 767 runs scored, 702 runs allowed