BY AXEL BOADA
2013 Record: 78-84 (3rd Place AL West, 18 GB)
On paper, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim should have been dominating the MLB. But the games aren’t played on paper.
The team went 78-84 and missed the playoffs for the fourth consecutive year.
So far, the signings of 1B Albert Pujols and LF Josh Hamilton have been huge busts. After two hype-filled offseasons, not much is expected from the team this season. Los Angeles is hoping to find some angels in the outfield this season. But are they still stuck in Anaheim?
DH Raúl Ibañez (1 yr/ $2.75M)
3B David Freese (1 yr/ $5.05M)
Ibañez a.k.a. Lord Voldemort is currently experiencing a career resurgence 18 years into his tenure. Over the last five years, Ibañez has averaged about 24 home runs and 77 RBIs a season. The 41-year old doesn’t seem to be slowing down, which is great news for the Angels.
Freese is my mortal enemy (I’ll explain in a later article). The third basemen had a down season last year, hitting just .262 and a career-low nine home runs. However, he made the all-star team only two years ago and has a lifetime .356 OBP. And considering how bad Angels third basemen were last year — they hit eight home runs total last season — he figures to be a big improvement in that department. After all, Freese was the 2011 World Series MVP.
1B/OF Mark Trumbo: Los Angeles loses huge power in their lineup now that Trumbo is in Arizona. Not counting Trumbo’s eight game appearances in 2010, he has averaged 31.7 home runs and 94 RBIs per season. He arguably had the best season of his short career last year, belting 34 out of the park and driving in 100 runs.
CF Peter Bourjos: Though he struggled with injury during his time in Los Angeles, Bourjos has plenty of potential. Bourjos is projected to start over CF Jon Jay in St. Louis and if the 26-year-old can stay healthy, the Cardinals may get 30 to 40 stolen bases out of him. The Angels may regret trading the speedster for Freese if the latter doesn’t pan out in Los Angeles.
PLAYER TO WATCH
Mike Trout: This one is easy. The centerfielder is one of the best players in the MLB at just age 22. In 2012, Trout became the first rookie to ever hit 30 home runs and steal 49 bases. He followed up an incredible year with another right on par. Trout batted 97 runs in, which 14 more than he had in 2012. He also had an unreal .432 OBP. Oh, and he is a two-time AL MVP runner-up. Basically, Trout is really good.
Projected Opening Day Lineup
Having a player of Mike Trout’s caliber is great for any team. Unfortunately, there is not much reason to be excited about the team’s chances beyond that. The Angels do have big power in the bats of Hamilton and Pujols, but it appears they are past their primes. The AL West is a very competitive conference and it is hard to think Los Angeles has a chance of dethroning the Oakland Athletics. Expect the Angels to win around 85 wins and finish third in the division.