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With Introductions Out of the Way, Angels Power Trio Gets to Work

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With Introductions Out of the Way, Angels Power Trio Gets to Work
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Albert Pujols will have additional help this year in the middle of the order for the Los Angeles Ang …

COMMENTARY | On Thursday, Feb. 14, the assembled press at Tempe Diablo Stadium finally had the chance to sit down and talk with the new power triumvirate of Josh Hamilton, Mike Trout and Albert Pujols.

The trio of Los Angeles Angels hitters who are largely expected to provide the main power surge for the upcoming season answered a bevy of questions in the televised news conference. Hamilton, Trout and Pujols all talked about their excitement for the 2013 season and the opportunity to work with each other to reach a common goal.

Now that the introductions are out of the way, the real work can start.

With the first official workout for the full squad scheduled for Friday, Hamilton, Trout and Pujols will begin the process of living up to lofty expectations.

Trout's other-worldly rookie season has many experts calling him the best player in the game right now, despite just one year of service. No one in baseball history had ever hit 30 homers, stolen 45 bases and scored 125 runs in a single season. He was the youngest player in history to hit at least 20 home runs and steal at least 40 bases in a season.

Now, many are wondering if Trout can actually do the same in 2013. Setting the bar as high as he did last season brings expectations that would be nearly impossible for any other player to match.

According to Baseball Prospectus' 2013 PECOTA projections, Trout will hit .287 with 23 HR, 78 RBIs, 45 stolen bases, 108 runs scored and an .823 OPS.

Quite frankly, those numbers seem awfully low. PECOTA is certainly not the end-all, be-all, and putting numbers into a computer to generate data has its flaws.

Any player would have difficulty matching what Trout achieved in 2012. However, at just 21 years of age it's by no means a stretch to say that Trout can only continue to get better.

Hamilton is coming off a season that most power hitters would envy, hitting 43 HR with 128 RBIs and a .930 OPS. However, those numbers could have been even greater had Hamilton not experienced a significant slump in the months of June and July.

PECOTA projections have Hamilton hitting .279 with 27 HR and 90 RBIs in the 2013 season. While it's entirely possible that pitcher-friendly Angel Stadium could rob Hamilton of a bit of power, those projections seem quite low as well.

Hamilton will be playing right field full-time for the first time in his career and will likely bat cleanup after hitting third in the Texas Rangers lineup for several years. Hamilton will have to make some adjustments for sure.

Pujols is coming off a year that would be considered a disappointment for him, but no one else. Pujols rebounded from a tough April start to hit .285 with 30 HR and 105 RBIs. It marked the 11th time in 12 seasons that Pujols collected at least 30 HR with 100 RBIs.

Still, Pujols' slugging percentage and OPS were in decline for the third straight season. PECOTA projections have Pujols hitting .296 with 36 HR and 110 RBIs this season.

No question the bar is set extremely high for this trio as they get ready for the upcoming season. However, as the trio talked during Thursday's news conference, it was apparent they understood the expectations and are prepared to meet those lofty goals.

The real work begins for the Angels, and Trout, Hamilton and Pujols are prepared to help lead the way.

Doug Mead is a freelance sportswriter living in the Los Angeles area. His work has been featured in Bleacher Report, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, SF Gate, CBS Sports, the Los Angeles Times and the Houston Chronicle.

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