Angels: 2017 Fantasy Baseball Preview

September 18, 2016; Anaheim, CA, USA; Los Angeles Angels center fielder Mike Trout (27) is greeted after scoring a run in the seventh inning against Toronto Blue Jays at Angel Stadium of Anaheim. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

AL East: BAL, BOS, NYY, TB, TOR

NL East: ATL, NYM, PHI, MIA, WAS

AL Central: KC, CWS, DET, CLE, MIN

NL Central: STL, PIT, CHC, MIL, CIN

AL West: SEA

After years of struggling, the Angels finally added to the offense. With support around their star hitter, can we expect more fantasy production?

The Los Angeles Angles were a dominant force in the American League West for most of the 2000s. Then, with the turn of the decade, the team’s fortune went downhill. They finished third or fourth in five of the last seven years. The team still featured some fantasy stars, but not as much as this season.

The Angels added five new batters this offseason. The 2016 offseason finished 17th in runs, 25th in home runs, and 14th in on-base percentage. The Angels could get on base, for the most part, but no one was able to drive them home. They are hoping the proven vets can boost this offense.

Unfortunately, the pitching staff wasn’t any better. The staff was 21st in ERA, 25th in WHIP, and 24th in quality starts. The bullpen was only able to record 29 saves, 28th in the league.

The Angels were riddled with injuries throughout the season. They lost arguably their best pitcher after just six starts.

Only one pitcher made over 30 starts with the team. The lack of consistency affected both sides of the ball.

Los Angeles lost some veterans this offseason, four starting pitchers, a catcher and a utility player. With the starting pitchers already in place, while they struggled, they weren’t hurting to add a big name.

Angel Stadium of Anaheim was middle of the road for hitters, leaning towards the offense a little. I don’t think that affects the pitchers as much as some of the other parks. The rotation needs to do a better job.

Let’s get to nine Angels players I have ranked inside my top 300, and the rest of the roster too.

May 1, 2016; Arlington, TX, USA; Los Angeles Angels starting pitcher Garrett Richards (43) throws during the game against the Texas Rangers at Globe Life Park in Arlington. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

The Angels rotation was not the most efficient in baseball. The only pitcher to have an ERA under 2.50 was Garrett Richards, but that’s only because he made six starts.

I wrote about Richards’ injury back in October. He damaged the ligaments in his elbow, but did not undergo Tommy John surgery, but went with a stem cell treatment. He has made great progress and I haven’t heard any recent reports stating otherwise. While I am hesitant, I think he should be drafted in the later rounds. If he stays healthy, he could be a top-25 pitcher by the end of the season.

Matt Shoemaker has more of a chance to succeed this season. He made 27 starts and finished with a 3.88 ERA, 1.225 WHIP, and 9-13 record. He also had an 8.0 K/9 and 1.7 BB/9 in 160 innings. Shoemaker is my No. 60 pitcher because of his ball control and low home run total.

Ricky Nolasco is a deeper option. In 11 starts with the team, he had a 3.21 ERA and 1.068 WHIP. He doesn’t strike out a lot of batters, so his value is limited. He’s a good option to help lower your ratio stats with the right matchup.

Tyler Skaggs and Jesse Chavez round out the rotation. Nothing fantasy-relevant about these two pitchers.

MLB: Oakland Athletics at Los Angeles Angels

The Angels bullpen was a tale of two extremes. On one side, the middle relievers held their own and limited the runs. One the other, the closer had an ERA of 6.45.

Cam Bedrosian is the guy I like most from this bullpen. In 45 games, he had a 1.12 ERA and 1.091 WHIP with one save. He recorded 51 strikeouts in 40.1 innings but also walked 14 batters. If he can limit the walks, then the Angels would have no choice but to put him in as the closer. Until then, he is my No. 35 closer.

The Angels current closer, Huston Street, was not good. He had the high ERA with a 1.925 WHIP and nine saves. He was pulled in favor of two other pitchers, but with a lack of stability at the position, Street is back in the role to start the season.

MLB: NLDS-Los Angeles Dodgers at Washington Nationals

The Angels added three new members to the infield this offseason.

The infield alignment is Martin Maldonado at catcher, Luis Valbuena playing first base, Danny Espinosa at second, Andrelton Simmons playing shortstop and Yunel Escobar manning the hot corner.

Maldonado played in 76 games with the Milwaukee Brewers, hitting .202 with eight home runs and 21 RBI. Unless there’s a huge turn of events, stay away from him.

My colleague Brad Kelly wrote about the Valbuena signing here. With C.J. Cron undergoing thumb surgery in October, the Angels needed a backup plan, or in this case a starter. Valbuena will have value until Cron comes back and I’m not a fan of platoon situations.

The biggest move the Angels made was trading for Espinosa. He hit 24 home runs, 72 RBI and .209/.306/.378 in 157 games. The low average will kill your team, but the power may outweigh that for some owners. The downside, besides the average, will be that he classifies as a shortstop until his 10th start at second base.

Simmons was good in his first season in LA. He hit .281 with 44 RBI and 10 steals. As a backup shortstop, he’ll get you a few hits during the week.

That same premise applies to Escobar. He hit .304 with five home runs and 39 RBI in 132 games.

MLB: Oakland Athletics at Los Angeles Angels

To spare everyone from the obvious, Mike Trout is my No. 1 overall player. He hit 29 home runs, 100 RBI, 30 steals and .315. I think the power will come back with at least 35 homers. If he can keep the speed, then there is no doubt he is the top player.

Kole Calhoun’s power dropped, but his average went up. As a top-40 outfielder and 15th round pick, I like him for 20 home runs and .270. He’s a low-end OF5.

The third outfield spot is up in the air. The team traded for Cameron Maybin in November, but then signed Ben Revere just over a month later. Looking at their numbers, they look to be very similar.

Maybin had a 4 HR/43 RBI/15 SB/.315 line in 94 games. Revere’s line was 2 HR/24RBI/14 SB/.217 in 103 games. Yes, there were clear differences, but the lack of power and decent speed put them in the same tier. They are ranked around 70th among outfielders.

The final Angels player to talk about is veteran Albert Pujols. He’s played in at least 150 games over the last three seasons. Pujols hit 31 home runs, 119 RBI, and .268 last year. He played first base in 28 games, giving him eligibility this season.

If you want to use him there, I rank him highly over Valbuena or Cron. He will also make a great utility or corner infield option if you go with one of the elite players early.

MLB: Los Angeles Angels at Toronto Blue Jays

I think the Angels will be greatly improved this season. They have a better offense, at least on paper. I think they will score more runs. I would draft Richards or Shoemaker late, but that’s it. Street will get the first chance at saves, so he has some value. Trout and Calhoun will get drafted, but the platoon between Maybin and Revere muddies that situation.