This season will be the year seven of the Angels having the best all-around talent since Barry Bonds in Mike Trout. As the years in his contract decline, the clock continues to tick on the Angels getting their brightest star to play under the postseason lights.
With a record of 74-88, the Angels underperformed last season specifically on the mound. Los Angeles gave up the fourth-most runs in the AL and accumulated the fewest amount of strikeouts. Losing Garrett Richards for the season to elbow surgery doomed and already weak starting pitching staff from opening day.
Heading into 2017, Richards will be returning as the projected opening day starter. If he can return to the stellar pitching he showed in the Angels’ last postseason run in 2014, the Angels can cross having an ace off their checklist for 2017.
Long time Angels’ starter Jered Weaver, has taken his talents south of Long Beach as he has signed a one-year deal with San Diego Padres. The Angels hope Matt Shoemaker can step in and above Weaver’s production last season with anything better than the 5.06 ERA Weaver posted.
Pitching aside, this team starts and ends with Mike Trout. 29 home runs, 100 RBIs, and a league-leading 10.6 WAR couldn’t prevent Trout from taking home MVP honors last season on a losing team. Having 3 years left on his contract, the Angels are looking to take advantage of his prime.
Nearly re-entering his prime last season was Albert Pujols, who blasted 31 homers to go with 119 RBIs. At age 37 with declining fielding skills, the hope is that a full-time move to DH in 2017 will preserve his legs long enough for Trout to have protection in the lineup.
The much younger and improving form of protection in the lineup for Trout, Cole Calhoun looks to further improve upon his season last year. Regressing slightly from a 26 homer campaign in 2015, the Angels hope he can provide power at the top of the order. On an individual level, Calhoun should look to improve upon the measly 14 career stolen bases despite being a rangy outfielder.
The Angels were busy this offseason in acquiring speed as they went out and signed speedy outfielders Cameron Maybin and Ben Revere. Revere and Maybin combined for 103 stolen bases last season, 30 more than the Angels did as a team. Adding to their additions is Danny Espinosa, who can provide versatility across the diamond as well as power with his 24 dingers last season.
The Angels have a reason for optimism in 2017. Having solid starters in their pitching staff to go along with Garrett Richards has improved their most glaring weakness last season. With a serviceable lineup and Mike Trout, any team that starts out slow in the AL West will be at risk of having their spot stolen by the Angels. Having 74 wins next season would be a disappointment with the talent this roster has.
- I'm a 19-year old sophomore dual major in Journalism and Sports Management at Eastern Nazarene College. Born in Boston, MA raised in Brockton, and just happy to be here at NGSC Sports.