2013 American League Preview: Los Angeles Angels

Gary A. Vasquez-US PRESSWIRE

Let's Go Tribe's look at the competition around the A.L. continues with the Los Angeles Angels, who I am told feature MLB's best player of 2012 (Vernon Wells???).

Los Angeles Angels

2012 Record: 89-73 (3rd in A.L. West), 4-5 vs. Cleveland

767 runs scored (3rd of 14 in A.L.), 699 runs allowed (7th of 14 in A.L.)

The Angels entered last season having signed Albert Pujols to one of the richest contracts in sports history and expectations for the team were high. Instead, Pujols struggled mightily out of the gate and the Angels found them sitting on a 6-14 record at the end of play on April 27, already 9 games out of 1st place. That's when the team decided to call Mike Trout up to the big leagues. Trout, only twenty years old, was seen by consensus as one of the three best prospects in all of baseball and he did not disappoint.

Trout put up a line of .326/.399/.564, with 30 HR, 129 runs scored, and 49 stolen bases in 54 attempts, all while playing quite possibly the best defense of any outfielder in baseball. In the minds of many, he was the very best player in all of baseball, putting up the best season in history by a player so young. He was the runaway winner of the A.L. Rookie of the Year Award and if baseball hadn't cherished RBI since before your granddad were born, he'd likely have won the MVP too. Pujols also picked up his production after a rough opening, while Torii Hunter, Kendrys Morales, and Mark Trumbo also had strong seasons at the plate. Despite all that production, the Angels still fell a few games short of the playoffs.

How did that happen? The starting rotation failed the team. Jered Weaver put up another great season, but C.J. Wilson was a mess in the first season of a five-year, $75 million contract, Dan Haren never really got healthy and had the worst full season of his career, and Ervin Santana gave Ubaldo Jimenez some competition for worst starting pitcher in the American League. The Angels entered the offseason with multiple key contributors heading to free agency, knowing they would have to give out some large contracts or watch the team's talent level drop.

Key off-season additions:

Joe Blanton (SP), Sean Burnett (RP), Josh Hamilton (OF), Tommy Hanson (SP), Ryan Madson (RP), Jason Vargas (SP),

Key off-season departures:

Zack Greinke (SP), Dan Haren (SP), Torii Hunter (OF), Maicer Izturis (IF), Kendrys Morales (1B/DH), Ervin Santana (SP), Jordan Walden (RP)

2013 Payroll: ~$150 million

Projected 2013 Starting Lineup (with ZiPS fWAR projection):

Pos

Player

Projected WAR

C

Chris Iannetta

3

1B

Albert Pujols

5

2B

Howie Kendrick

3

3B

Alberto Callapso

3

SS

Erick Aybar

3

LF

Mike Trout

8

CF

Peter Bourjos

3

RF

Josh Hamilton

4

DH

Mark Trumbo

2

TOTAL

34

Indian Killers:

Josh Hamilton - 191 PA, .304/.366/.556, .922, 11 HR, 27 R, 35 RBI

Hamilton has been a monster in 19 games at Progressive Field, with an OPS of 1.013. Here's to hoping his regression to the mean starts soon.

Albert Pujols - 70 PA, .266/.329/.594, .922 OPS, 6 HR, 8 R, 11 RBI

Those are actually quite a bit below Pujols' career averages (which is mind-boggling), so in some ways, the Indians have been Pujols killers!

Projected 2013 Starting Rotation/Bullpen (with ZiPS fWAR projection):

Pos

Player

Projected WAR

1

Jered Weaver

5

2

C.J. Wilson

4

3

Jason Vargas

2

4

Tommy Hanson

2

5

Joe Blanton

3

RP

Bullpen

1

TOTAL

17

Few teams had more impact players come and go this offseason than the Angels. Their starting rotation has been overhauled after the top two. If Wilson bounces back and they get even moderate production from the back end, it should be a good (if not great) group. Meanwhile, their lineup looks to have solid speed and power, and is without any real weak points to attack. They should make life very difficult for opposing pitchers this season, and those players will provide strong defense as well. With so many games against the lowly Astros being added to their schedule, Los Angeles (of Anaheim!) seems a good bet to improve its record and out itself into the postseason.

PECOTA Projection: 91-71 (1st in West), 773 runs scored, 674 runs allowed

Cairo Projection: 91-71 (1st in West), 757 runs scored, 652 runs allowed

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