Finishing 89-73 would normally signify a good season, but for the Angels it just meant a 3rd place finish and another disappointing end to the season. The team just was outgunned by year’s end, unable to keep up with their divisional counterparts in Texas and Oakland. So the Angels did what most teams from Los Angeles will do: they spent money to rectify the problem. The Angels went out this winter and made a number of acquisitions. Josh Hamilton joins what was already a powerful lineup. Joe Blanton, Tommy Hanson, and Claudio Vargas round out a rebuilt rotation. The team also brought aboard Sean Burnett and Ryan Madson to the bullpen.
With the start of the 2013 Regular Season upon us, it seemed like the ideal time to check in with each of our team sites here at FanSided MLB and check out what our experts have to say on the upcoming season. Let’s check in with Editor Travis Reitsmas from Halo Hangout, and see what he had to say about the team’s best and worst case scenarios, as well as what’s most likely to happen.
Best Case Scenario
The Angels lineup performs as it should and the team scores north of 800 runs. Weaver and Wilson live up to their reputation as legitimate top-of-the-rotation talents, Joe Blanton takes advantage of spacious Angel Stadium and puts up the numbers his peripherals suggest he should, and Tommy Hanson’s shoulder stays intact long enough to throw 180+ innings. If all these things happen, the Angels win over 100 games and roll through the playoffs for their second world title.
Worst Case Scenario
Pujols gives validity to those who say he may be in decline, Trout has an epic sophomore slump, Hamilton makes multiple trips to the DL, and Mark Trumbo hits the way he did from June on. Weaver not only regresses to the mean, but has some bad luck thrown in on top, Wilson’s late season elbow problems don’t go away, and Tommy Hanson’s arm comes detached at the shoulder and flies into the first row behind the dugout, injuring a fan. The Angels still score enough runs to finish around the .500 mark, but they’re not in contention.
Most Likely to Happen
Mike Trout’s 2012 season was historically good. There’s almost no way he’s that good again—the laws of physics and randomness won’t allow it. Still, he should be a legitimate MVP candidate. Pujols is now well into his 30s and players who are well into their 30s usually start to see some decline, but he hit .315/.377/.592 from May 24 on last season. Expect him to hit somewhere just under that in 2013—making him still one of the best hitters in the American League.
Not having to play center should help Hamilton stay on the field, but he’s still good for a DL trip or two at some point during the season. He swings at too many pitches and the league is starting to adjust, but if he can adjust back and refine his approach slightly, there’s no reason to think he can’t be a .300/.350/.550 guy. Realistically, Trumbo is probably somewhere in between the hitter he was in the first half of last season and the hitter he was in the second half, which is fine since there are plenty of weapons around him in the lineup and now with Vernon Wells traded to the Yankees and Morales to the Mariners, there’s no one to take at-bats from him at the DH spot.
The biggest concern is the pitching staff. Weaver and Wilson are due for some regression and although they are both good pitchers, neither should really be counted on as a true ace. Hanson, Vargas and Blanton all have significant question marks and if anyone gets hurt, the options to replace them are uninspiring. In the bullpen, Madson is already behind schedule and will start the year on the DL, Frieri walks too many to repeat what he did last year and names like David Carpenter and Jerome Williams don’t instill much confidence.
Still, the offense is excellent and the pitching—although probably slightly overrated—isn’t bad enough to tank the entire year. The Angels should win between 90 and 95 games and on paper are the best team in the AL West.
With their additions this winter and a lineup that could arguably be among the game’s best, the Angels are a certain favorite in the suddenly strong AL West. Los Angeles and Oakland may have both leap-frogged Texas as the powerhouse franchise of the division, but there will be a race through much of the season between these teams.
To keep with all things Los Angeles Angels, be sure to check out Halo Hangout all season long.