Center fielder Mike Trout is the engine for this team and is the clear 1.01 in every draft format. However, as in real life, he can’t do it alone and the eternal question of “just how good can he be” echoes.
However, look across the diamond.
Albert Pujols was that good a decade ago and stayed at that level a long time.
Projected 2014 LA Angels “Go-To” Lineup:
- Erick Aybar, SS
- Mike Trout, CF
- Albert Pujols, 1B
- Josh Hamilton, LF
- David Freese, 3B
- Raul Ibanez, DH
- Howie Kendrick, 2B
- Kole Calhoun, RF
- Chris Iannetta, C
- SP1 Jered Weaver, RHP
- SP2 C.J. Wilson, LHP
- SP3 Garrett Richards, RHP
- SP4 Hector Santiago, LHP
- SP5 Tyler Skaggs, LHP
- Others: Joe Blanton
- Setup: Joe Smith
- Closer: Ernesto Frieri
Fantasy Studs: Trout, Pujols, Weaver and Wilson
All four of these players should be drafted in the top rounds.
Pujols is much more of a question mark than he’s ever been after an injury-marred 2013, but he could actually be value this season, if you believe he can come back. (I do.)
Weaver and Wilson are a solid 1-2 punch and put up consistent innings, which is tough to find.
Breakout Candidate: Tyler Skaggs
Skaggs could be Dan Haren redux. The D-Backs have done a great job of giving away a bunch of their top pitching prospects. While it worked in the case of the uncoachable Trevor Bauer, Skaggs will be the one they regret most.
He’s not the SP3 yet, but he has the talent to eventually nudge Weaver out as the team ace. This year, he should put up solid numbers at a reasonable value. In keeper leagues, push him up your board.
Sleeper Candidate: Trevor Lindsey
It’s tough to believe in Angels prospects after a flood of overhyped failures over the last decade. One of few solid guys who came through the system is Kendrick — and he could be pushed aside by Lindsey by midseason.
Lindsey’s gone level by level and won’t be a star, but he’ll be cheap and adequate. His power is developing and he could be the type of cheap player that a big payroll team needs, while putting up solid enough Fantasy numbers.
Bust Candidate: Josh Hamilton
Hamilton can go either way. He could be an MVP candidate again or vanish, as he shrugs his shoulder and reminds you that it’s God’s will for him to kill your Fantasy squad.
Gaining nearly 30 pounds this offseason could amp up his power or tie up his swing. Adjustment to a new park won’t be an excuse this year.
Hamilton’s laid back attitude didn’t mesh well with Pujols or manager Mike Scioscia last year, but his contract makes him nearly untradeable. Then again, Vernon Wells was dealt …
Top Rookies: Kole Calhoun, Tyler Skaggs
Calhoun is an interesting lower round guy who could put up 3 win numbers. He’s no Fantasy stud, with middling numbers, especially power, for the position. He doesn’t have it locked in either, though it’s thin behind him which could force Scioscia’s hand.
Skaggs should be the SP5 this year and will put up solid enough numbers, though as a rookie, he’s likely to tire in August.
What Should We Know?
The 2014 LA Angels have gone from being a disappointment to a team with little upside in a hurry. While there’s still some top-tier Fantasy players on the roster, there’s little chance of this team catching the Rangers or A’s and a much bigger chance that they slide behind the Mariners in the next year. Jerry DiPoto has been able to make some bold moves, but they don’t help much in the now. The hope is that everyone on the team explodes at once, which is unlikely. Just getting Pujols back should help, but there’s little surprise in a .500 team.
Will Carroll writes about injuries. He is the Lead Writer for Sports Medicine at Bleacher Report.
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