“Joe Talkin’ To Me?!” AL West Manifest Destiny: Angels, Defending Chumps?
The 2014 baseball season saw the one game play-in Royals of Kansas City wipe the MLB best 98 win Angels of Los Angeles off the baseball map in early October, three games to zero in a first round playoff tutorial on fundamental baseball.
Despite a half of a season from Josh Hamilton (not that great of a half I will point out), an aging and overpaid Albert Pujols and Garrett Richards, the Halos number one pitcher in 2014, getting shut down in August, the Angels racked up the most wins in baseball. With the roster almost in tact from last season, will this team pick up where they left off in September, or was October the beginning of a pitfall?
Enough Rally Monkey business. Let’s get down to what you came her for. Take a look at what the projected starters look like.
1. Cole Calhoun, RF
3. Albert Pujols, 1B
4. Josh Hamilton, LF (after suspension?)
5. Matt Joyce/CJ Cron, DH
6 David Freese, 3B
7. Erick Aybar, SS
8. Josh Rutledge, 2B
9. Chris Iannetta, C
Breakout – Cole Calhoun – Entering his age 27 season off of a 90 R, 17 HR, .272 BA season in just 127 games, Calhoun is a good bet to score 100 with 20 taters hitting in front of the universe’s best player. His draft day price will be nice too!
Bust – Mike Trout – NO! I do not think Trout will have a bad season. Trout here is a product of the expected production vs ADP of the Angels hitters. Anything less than the #1 ranked fantasy player at season’s end will mean Trout did not return value on his draft day selection.
Sleeper – CJ Cron – At 6’4″ and 235 pounds, Cron possesses tremendous natural power. Cron will have a role vs lefties but, a combination of injuries (Pujols and Hamilton), suspension (Hamilton) and poor play (Hamilton and Joyce) could pave the path to at bats and HRs.
Infirmary – Josh Hamilton, actually a suspension, time unknown. Adjust accordingly.
1. Garrett Richards (mid April return)
2. Jered Weaver
3. CJ Wilson
4. Matt Shoemaker
5. Andrew Heaney/Hector Santiago
Sleeper – Matt Shoemaker – Shoemaker carried the Angles rotation late in the season after Richards went down with a knee injury. With a 3.53 ERA and a 1.12 WHIP in 2014, anything close in 2015 will make him a huge value.
Bust – Andrew Heaney – In his first 29 MLB innings, Heaney got lit up to the tune of a nearly 6.00 ERA. He will be a good MLB pitchers eventually, maybe even by years end, but he wont be worth the growing pains this year.
Value Pick – Garrett Richards – Garrett was awesome last season. 2.61 ERA, 1.04 WHIP and 13-4 kind of awesome. Most teams picked him up off waivers and were probably in 1st place or very close to it until he hurt his knee in August. That’s the good news. He hurt his knee, not his arm. Expected to be full go by mid April, Richards should turn in 30 starts. Reap the rewards of scared owners and snag this guy at a discount.
Infirmary – Garrett Richards, knee, expected back mid April.
Closer – Huston Street – Expect the usual borderline dominant Street with one visit to the DL mixed in.
Setup – Joe Smith – If you are counting holds in your league, this guy could be the best. After splitting holds in 2014 with Kevin Jepsen, Smith now has the gig all to himself for a team that won 98 games last season.
2015 Season Outlook
The Angels will show up on Opening Day 2015 looking quite similar to the angels on Opening Day 2014. The one missing piece will be the hole left by Howie Kendrick at second base. Losing Kendrick, Pujols still aging and the huge question marks hanging over Josh Hamilton are enough to knock the Angels down from the 98 wins in 2014. With a team largely the same, they won’t be knocked to far down. Prediction – 92-70, 2nd place
Can prince Fielder return to form this year and have a monster year in Texas? Can Fernando Rodney save another 50 games for the Mariners this year? – Alfonso in Tampa, FL
Two questions Alfonso? You sure are greedy! But, they are both excellent questions worth some time. Ill start with Fielder. The short answer is yes. We are talking about a guy that for eight straight years hit no less than 25 long balls, crossed the plate no less than 82 times, and played in at least 157 games. His career slash line of .285/.388/.522 is nasty. Assuming the neck is healed 100%, Fielder will rake in the hot Texas summer and come at a nice discount. Rodney actually “only” saved 48 games last year. Rodney was the league leader and the Mariners should win a few more games this year allowing him to challenge 50 plus. If the high walks and WHIP do not bother you, Rodney will be a great source of saves and should be able to get a K per inning to boot.
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