2016 Fantasy Baseball Preview: Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
With Spring Training games just around the corner, I will take a look at how the Angels will look fantasy-wise this season. There is no clear leader in the AL West this season, as the defending division champion Rangers look to be stronger with many players coming back from injury.
The Astros showed last year that they have arrived, and a full year of Carlos Correa should help them this year. The Mariners had a lot of turnover on their roster but are looking to be competitive this season. Finally, the A’s don’t look that dangerous this year, but they can never be counted out.
- Kole Calhoun – RF
- Yunel Escobar – 3B
- Mike Trout – CF
- Albert Pujols – 1B
- C.J. Cron – DH
- Daniel Nava – LF
- Andrelton Simmons – SS
- Carlos Perez – C
- Johnny Giavotella – 2B
Longtime Angels shortstop Erick Aybar, is gone, and defensive wizard Simmons is in. The Angels may miss Aybar’s ability to bat all over the lineup, but Simmons will make up for it in the field.
The Angels still have a nice one-two punch in the middle of their lineup. Trout is expected to have a full season in the three spot, and with that should come plenty more RBI opportunities.
The second part of the combo is Pujols. He is expected to be healthy a little after or even by Opening Day.Even though his numbers have been falling, Pujols is still a nice supply of power.
The Angels are hoping for a repeat of Escobar’s great 2015 season, as he can be a nice addition to the top of their order. Calhoun should also be a steady contributor at the top of the order as he has quietly been one of the better table-setters in baseball over the last couple of seasons.
The Angels biggest question coming into the season will be left field. They will be hoping for bounce-back seasons from both new members of their makeshift platoon in Nava and Craig Gentry.
The Angels have a surplus of MLB-ready starters this year, with eight pitchers competing for five spots. Richards has taken over as the ace of the staff, and will look to regain his solid 2014 form when he was in the AL Cy Young conversation before a season-ending injury. Weaver and Wilson are both coming off of down years, but both are workhorses and will still put in innings and get their average results.
Heaney showed signs of greatness in his rookie season, and could step up his game and be a nice complement to Richards. None of the final four are guaranteed to get consistent innings. Shoemaker is coming off of a sophomore slump, after a breakout rookie season.
Hector Santiago was an All-Star last season, but fell apart in the second half, and with that may be sent to the bullpen. Tyler Skaggs is coming off of Tommy John surgery and is expected to start in Triple-A to regain confidence. Finally, Nick Tropeano is solid, but nothing special and is stuck in a long line of more experienced pitchers.
At the back of the bullpen, Street is one of the more reliable closers and is coming off back-to-back 40 save seasons. Setting him up will be another reliable reliever in Smith.
Stud: Mike Trout (OF)
Trout has finished first or second in AL MVP voting in all four seasons of his career. He should once again be the first pick in every draft, and if he isn’t he will not fall out of the top two. Angels Manager Mike Scioscia has guaranteed Trout will hit third this season, ensuring more RBI opportunities.
Trout had 90 RBIs while splitting time between the two and three spots. Trout has not missed more than five games in any of his full seasons and has a career line of .304/.397/.559 with a 162-game average of 35 home runs and 99 runs batted in.
He also averages 28 stolen bases, but only had 11 last season. One thing he can improve on is his strikeouts, as he averages 161 per season, but overall Trout has had an amazing career so far, and that should continue this season.
Bounce Back: Daniel Nava (OF/1B)
In 2013, Nava had over 500 plate appearances, and a slash line of .303/.385/.445, with 12 home runs and 66 RBI. He fell off a little bit in 2014, but still had a decent year. However, he completely fell off in 2015 and hit .194 with only one home run and 10 RBI.
He split time between the Red Sox and Rays last season and could not get himself consistent playing time. Nava is not expected to hit like he did in 2013, but it’s not that crazy to think that he can regain his 2014 numbers and hit around .270 with a decent amount of power as well. Nava can be a buy-low option late in a draft that could easily outplay his projections with consistent playing time.
Sleeper: C.J. Cron (1B/DH)
Cron is coming into Spring Training for the first time as someone who is not competing for a spot. If Pujols does start the year on the disabled list, then Cron is expected to be the starting first baseman. With the Angels failing to sign a power bat this offseason, Cron is projected to be right in the middle of the lineup and with that should come more RBI opportunities.
More plate appearances could also lead to more home runs, and it is not that far out of the box to think he could hit 20 to 25 long balls. With power at a premium, Cron could easily be an underrated power option.
Bust: Yunel Escobar (3B/2B)
Escobar had a great season with the Nationals last season, where he slashed .314/.375/.415 with nine home runs and 56 RBI. His power numbers stayed consistent with what they were previously, but his batting average and on-base percentage can’t be guaranteed.
The previous three years he averaged around a .250 batting average and a .320 on-base percentage. These numbers are not terrible, but if you are looking for Escobar to repeat his season from a year ago, you might not get the player you think you are getting.
Late-Round Flier: Tyler Skaggs (SP)
Skaggs is still only 24 years old and had already made 31 starts in the majors before his 2014 Tommy John Surgery. He is not guaranteed to make the Angels’ Opening Day rotation, but with some time in Triple-A, he could gain some confidence and come into the rotation as a young starter who already has MLB experience.
Skaggs has somewhat struggled in his MLB career with a 4.72 ERA, but he does have a career 4.20 FIP showing that he has run into some bad luck, and his numbers should be better than they are. Skaggs could easily regain his top prospect form, and be a nice back of the rotation pitcher.
Prospect To Watch: Chad Hinshaw (OF)
The Angels do not have many prospects at the top of their system that could make an immediate impact this season, but Chad Hinshaw has the best chance. Hinshaw split time between High-A and Double-A last season and hit .291, with an astonishing .399 on-base percentage.
He also stole 30 bags showing that he can be a threat on the bases as well. Hinshaw has never been a highly touted prospect, but with a big question mark in left field, Hinshaw could find his way into the Angels’ lineup and quietly surprise us all.