Los Angeles Angels (+5500 to win AL Pennant)
What happened in 2016.
The Angels are picked dead last in the AL West by the oddsmakers. However, their payroll is four times that of Oakland. You can attribute a good chunk of that to the 36-year-old slugger Albert Pujols who is set to make $26 million this year. He still has five years left on his $240 million contract, ouch.
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The Angels were once in the business of trying to buy a World Championship, and they are still paying for that failed plan. They now look to be stuck between trying to compete and rebuilding but haven’t quite made a decision on the route they want to take. If the Angels are at the bottom of the division as projected, look for them to try to shop Mike Trout. Trout would no doubt command several top prospects from a farm system. But, he might be untradeable because of his overall value.
Overall the Halo’s offense was average. They only hit 156 home runs, but that is largely in part to playing half of their season in the pitcher-friendly Angels Stadium. They hit for a team average of .260 and nearly all their other stats were around league average. Their lineup projects to be decent 1-6, but the bottom third could be putrid. Trout and Pujols, along with Kole Calhoun, C.J. Cron, and Yunel Escobar will be asked to carry this offense.
LA’s pitching as a whole last year was below average. They had the highest FIP in the AL at 4.62. They also had the second lowest Quality Start percentage in the AL at 40%, second to only Minnesota.
What about 2017?
The Angels lost their ace Garrett Richards and another promising starter Andrew Heaney early last season. This contributed to a lot of their pitching struggles. Richards is set to be back, but Heaney will miss 2017 recovering from a Tommy John surgery. So for this season, LA will look to have Richards as their opening day starter. He would be followed by Matt Shoemaker, Tyler Skaggs, and Ricky Nolasco. Then likely recently acquired Chavez to round out the staff.
There will likely need to change at closer this year for the Halo’s. Their save percentage was terrible at a mere 58% in 2016. Veteran closer Huston Street, had a terrible season last year while he was dealing with a knee injury. He will compete with Andrew Bailey and Cam Bedrosian for the job in the spring.
Los Angeles will need the backend of their rotation to step up and provide better starts this year. Their offense is possibly the worst in the division and will need to be kept in games by the pitching staff. Trout has a full no-trade clause in his contract. But look for this to be his last year in Anaheim, as he would likely waive it to play for a contender.