Editor’s note: Baseball is back and Yahoo Sports is previewing all 30 teams over the next month. This year’s previews will focus on fantasy and reality, as our MLB news staff and our fantasy baseball crew come together to assess each team before opening day. Next up, the Los Angeles Angels.
With the Los Angeles Angels it’s always the same question: Is this the year they don’t waste Mike Trout? “Wasting” Mike Trout is relative, of course. It’s not like the Angels are a perennial cellar-dweller, but the fact remains that the Angels have a grand total of zero playoff games in the Trout era.
So, is this the year?
The Angels made some interesting moves since going 80-82 a year ago. Nothing earth-shattering, but enough that if a couple things go right, they could be wild-card contenders by the summer.
Matt Harvey is an Angel now and they’re hoping it’s a glam up on both sides. Harvey, hoping he can return to form. The Angels, hoping he can become the front-line pitcher they need. Justin Bour and Jonathan Lucroy came aboard as free agents, the first another source of power, the second another veteran presence in the clubhouse. The Angels signed Cody Allen in hopes of creating a more daunting bullpen.
Shohei Ohtani is limited to DHing this year, but not right away as he rehabs from Tommy John surgery. Second baseman Zack Cosart is also uncertain for opening day, so health will once again be important for the Angels.
On the fantasy side, the Angels start with the game’s no-doubt best player in Trout, and have Albert Pujols and Justin Upton, whose value you can ponder. There’s some pitchers worth watching too.
Upside in Anaheim beyond Mike Trout? Could be the year. - Mike Oz
Angels’ offseason grade
The Angels made enough moves that they could contend for second place in the AL West, and they could even be a wild-card contender if the A’s don’t have their 2018 gusto.
For that to happen, most of their offseason moves need to pay off in a big way. Sure, the Angels would have been better served by adding another pitcher — a Dallas Keuchel-type, sure, but even a Gio Gonzalez-type would help. As it stands now, the Angels have a lot riding on Trevor Cahill and Tyler Skaggs.
Our grade: C+ — They could have opened up the checkbook a little more, but they did get better. A lot better, if things go right. - Mike Oz
Los Angeles’ projected lineup and pitching staff
Who is the Angels’ best fantasy buy?
Maybe Andrew Heaney’s ERA (4.15) and WHIP (1.20) don’t stand out from last year, but his K-BB% (18.0) and exit velocity (86.8 mph) both ranked top-20 among starters, and that was during his first full season back from Tommy John surgery, so there’s a lot of upside here. He was already being overlooked at fantasy drafts, and he’s now even cheaper thanks to some early elbow inflammation (which he insists is all good now). A former top-10 pick with legit swing-and-miss stuff aided by an Angels defense that’s arguably the best in baseball, Heaney is a pitcher to target. - Dalton Del Don
Is there a sleeper in Los Angeles?
Justin Bour managed to hit 18 homers in fewer than 300 at-bats versus right-handers last year even during his worst season in the big leagues. He did that while playing in Marlins Park, which was the toughest place to hit in baseball last year. Meanwhile, his new venue in Anaheim suddenly became an extreme power park for lefties after lowering the right field fences last season, with only Yankee Stadium increasing home runs more. Bour will battle Albert Pujols for at-bats after Shohei Ohtani returns, but over the last two years, Pujols’ -1.9 WAR ranks last in MLB. Bour is a sneaky 30-homer threat who’s free at draft tables. - Dalton Del Don
Angels prospect to watch
Outfielder Jo Adell, who once appeared on the StewPod, is the main draw here. Many consider Adell a top-10 prospect in the game right now. He’s a potential superstar who can hit for both average and power and is a threat on the bases. Adell’s shot at the majors may not come this season. He’ll begin the year at Double-A, and hope to move up from there. Just 19, he remains one of the youngest players in the advanced levels of the minors. There’s a lot to like. - Chris Cwik
Things that MUST go right for Los Angeles
1. Matt Harvey's revival: The Angels have been pitching needy for several years. They'll hope the arrival of Harvey helps solve that issue. The 30-year-old right-hander seemed to get back on track in 2018 following years of injuries and a divorce from the Mets. In 24 starts with the Reds, he posted a 4.50 ERA. More importantly, he stayed healthy and showed an increase in velocity. If Harvey stays on that track, it will could be needed good news for the Angels.
2. Good health: This applies to every aspect of the Angels roster, not just their thin pitching staff. The starting lineup looks good on paper, but the Angels do not have enough depth to withstand many injuries there either. Obviously, if something happened to Mike Trout it would a season changer, but if Albert Pujols can't bounce back or another regular goes down, they'll be digging for reinforcements.
3. Shohei Ohtani keeps hitting homers: A productive Othani would ease some of the Angels concerns. They obviously won't get anything from him from a pitching standpoint after undergoing Tommy John surgery. But he should return to the lineup in May. Once he's back, they will need him to build on his impressive 22 homers as a rookie. - Mark Townsend
If this team had a walk-up song, what would it be?
Let’s dedicate this one to Mike Trout, the best player in the game and a guy who is already on a historic trajectory. He’s done just about everything you could ask for in his career thus far — two MVPs, a Rookie of the Year, three runners-up for MVP. Only thing missing is making his mark in the postseason.
So for Trout and the Angels, let’s go with 50 Cent’s “If I Can’t.” - Mike Oz
(Warning: NSFW language)