MLB Team News & Rumors: Anaheim

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Anaheim Angels

Our expert from,Shawn Childs, helps you prepare for your big fantasy baseball draft.

Anaheim Angels Team Projection

In order to make the playoffs in major league baseball, you need more than one fish in the sea. Last year, Trout delivered another elite season, but Mr. Pujols and Mr. Hamilton were too busy counting dollar bills. The Angels finished 6th in the AL in runs (733) and 10th in HR's (164). Surprisingly, LA only stole 82 bases (52 less than 2012), which was the 9th highest total in the AL. Their pitching has declined in each of the last 2 years (had a disappointing 4.23 ERA in 2013). Furthermore, they allowed the 3rd most walks (533). LA has missed the playoffs in their last 4 seasons. In terms of offseason moves, they acquired 3B David Freese from the Cardinals for OF Peter Bourjos. DH Raul Ibanez was also signed to take over the DH role, while P Tyler Skaggs and P Hector Santiago were acquired in a three way trade with the Diamondbacks and White Sox for OF Mark Trumbo. Their only other changes were the addition of P Joe Smith for bullpen depth and they lost Jason Vargas to free agency. LA should have a top offensive team if Pujols and Hamilton play well. The backend of their starting rotation has plenty of question marks and their bullpen isn't elite. I expect the Angels to play better this year, but they may fall short of the playoffs for the 5th straight year.

1. OF Kole Calhoun

Kole Calhoun fantasy baseball

Trout should really be the #3 hitter for the Angels, but that plan will have to wait one more season. In order to create as much value for Trout, LA needs to have a quality bat leading off and really need a solid option hitting 9th in the batting order. Aybar is nice major league hitter, but his on base % is only .317 during his career. Calhoun gave the Angels 195 plus at bats in 2013. He showed upside power and a willingness to take a walk (9.5%). Furthermore, his K rate (18.5%) was about the major league average. He is a career .317 hitter in the minors with 55 HR's, 263 RBI, and 45 SB's in 1364 at bats. He had a solid walk rate (11.9%) in the minors, which gives him more upside in this area in the majors. In his limited at bats (50) against lefties in the majors, Kole hit .340. At AAA in 2013, he hit .439 against left hand pitching in 57 at bats with 3 HR's and 16 RBI. His skill set probably isn't built on being a leadoff hitter, but he does enough things well where he appears to be the best option on the team after Trout. His career on base % in the minors was .402. Calhoun also has underlying speed, even though he only has average base running ability. Kole is an older prospect with low upside tools, but he has great character and smarts. I expect him to be undervalued on draft day, especially if he does get a chance to bat at the top of the order.

2. OF Mike Trout

Mike Trout fantasy baseball

Last year, Trout played in 18 more games than 2012, but his production in HR's (27) and SB's (33) regressed. He stole 20 bases over the first 3 months of the year, but didn't run as much over the 2nd have of the year due to a tight hamstring. His K rate (19.0%) continues to improve, while his walk rate (15.4%) is exploding upward. Mike has led the AL in runs scored in back to back seasons and last year had the most walks in the league. In 2013, he made a nice step forward against LH pitching (.309) and continued to hit righties well (.327). Over the last 2 months of the year, pitchers were trying to pitch around him, which led to 54 walks. In September, it appeared he tried to expand the strike zone, which led to a high K rate (24.8%). His FB rate (35.6%) increased slightly while his HR/FB rate (16.5%) declined. Trout is an electric player with elite upside. His approach at the plate is improving and it still has more upside. He has 50 SB ability with even higher upside. Overall, I expect him to lead the AL in runs again by a wide margin and he has a very good chance of hitting 30 HR's. Trout is the best five tool player in the league and a batting title is just around the corner.

3. 1B Albert Pujols

Albert Pujols fantasy baseball

Last year, Pujols missed most of spring training after a slow recovery from knee surgery from the previous October. He was limited to a DH role early in the year and it was clear he wasn't 100% healthy just based on his slow foot speed. For most of his career, Albert has struggled with plantar fascia. Last year, he tore his left plantar fascia in late July, which ended his season. The injury didn't require surgery and he was almost 100% healthy in January. Pujols had a career low 17 HR's and a career low .258 batting average. Prior to last year, Albert had hit 30 HR's or more in 12 straight seasons and his lowest RBI total was 99. If he played a full season in 2013, Pujols was on a pace for 27 HR's and 100 RBI. His K rate (12.4%) has been elite during his career, but it was a career high last year. Additionally, his walk rate (9.0%) has been below his career average over the last 3 years. Pujols has a great major league resume and great work ethic. He has under achieved in his first 2 years with the Angels and this year his draft value has slid to a career low. Last year, Mike Trout was on base 282 times, which gives Pujols one of the best RBI chances in the game. A fantasy player would just be crazy to pass up the Trout/Pujols hook up on the 2/3 turn. Albert should hit over .300 this year with 30+ HR's and 120+ RBI.

4. OF Josh Hamilton

Josh Hamilton fantasy baseball

Hamilton is a very good major league player, but a fantasy player really has to question his motivation and possibly his sobriety over the past 2 years. Prior to 2012, Josh appeared to have an plus approach at the plate with upside in batting average. His K rate (24.8%) has been 3% higher than his previous career average over the past 2 years, while his walk rate (7.4%) also regressed last year. Over the first 4 months of the season, Hamilton only hit .226 with 106 K's in 380 at bats. Furthermore, he only hit .201 against lefties with a 31.1% K rate. Josh hit better over the last 2 months (.296), but his K rate (24.1%) only improved slightly and his power was short (5 HR's). Hamilton has three 30+ HR seasons on his resume and three years with 100+ RBI. His declining K rate is a huge concern, along with his motivation. Josh gained 20 lbs. in the offseason, which may not be a positive if it isn't muscle. He is set to make $17 million this year and LA owes him $89 million over his last 3 seasons. High upside bat with even higher downside life risks. The key to his success in 2014 will be his contact rate. If his K's are minimal in spring training, he will be a player of interest.

5. 3B David Freese

David Freese fantasy baseball

Freese has been a disappointment over the last 2 seasons after having an electric playoff run in 2011 (.397 with 5 HR's and 21 RBI in 63 at bats). David is a player that tends to get nicked up, which makes him a tough player to own. His K rate (20.5%) was a career best in 2013, while his walk rate (9.0%) was above his career average. Last year, his batting average (.262) was a career low and he had a huge drop off in power (9 HR's - career low). Freese entered 2013 with a bad back that cost him time in April and he suffered a minor thumb injury in May. David hit .310 in May and June with 5 HR's and 25 RBI. His GB rate (55.2%) was a career high, and he doesn't hit many fly balls (24.0%). Whoever bats 5th in the Angels lineup should have a plus RBI opportunity. Freese has a serviceable major league bat with 20 HR and 80 RBI upside. However, his low FB rate restricts his rise in power. Last year's drop in power may have just been a combination of a bad back and bad thumb. His poor season will give him some value on draft day.

6. DH Raul Ibanez

Raul Ibanez fantasy baseball

Ibanez had a nice spike in power at 40, but there are plenty of signs of regression. His K rate jump from 15.8% in 2012 to 25.8% in 2013, and his RBI rate (13%) was real weak considering that he hit 29 HR's. Raul only hit .197 in 2012 against lefties with no HR's in 61 at bats. Last year, Ibanez hit 8 HR's in 127 at bats against lefties (.244), but he had a 30.7% K rate. After a hot May and June (.274 with 17 HR's and 40 RBI), Raul regressed over the last 3 months of the year (.239 with 10 HR's and 20 RBI with 69 K's in 226 at bats {30.5% K rate}). His 29 HR's in 2013 will put him on many fantasy player's radar. His skill set is fading and his contract isn't strong enough to ensure that he will get full time at bats. Last year, he had his 2nd highest HR/FB rate (20.7%) of his career. It's clear he gave up the strike zone for power. Ibanez has a professional bat, but it's tough to expect much at age 41. The best he can hope for is a 2/3 role in 2014. He has power, but the batting risk is for real.

7. 2B Howie Kendrick

Howie Kendrick fantasy baseball

Kendrick has hit for a higher average in each of the last 3 seasons, but his production hasn't improved. Last year, he missed 40 games due to a hyperextended knee. Howie had the same success against RH (.298) and LH (.295) pitching. While his K rate (17.4%) showed some growth, he still doesn't take any walks (4.5%). If Kendrick played a full season, he was on pace to set career highs in HR's and RBI. His GB rate (51.3%) is still high, but it was a career low. Even with less ground balls, he didn't have a bump in his FB rate (21.3%). Howie had the 2nd highest HR rate (15.7%) of his career. At age 30, it's tough to expect Kendrick to have a breakout season. He has always been injury prone, which has led to 135 missed games over the last 5 seasons. I think he is getting stronger, but his low FB rate just about crushes his HR upside without a change in swing path. Kendrick is what he is: an asset in batting average with 15 HR power and double digit speed. His minor league resume always suggested more, but we have lost those dreams long ago.

8. C Chris Iannetta

Chris Iannetta fantasy baseball

Iannetta has never taken the step forward that fantasy players thought he would after his 2008 season in Colorado. His walk rate (17.0%) is impressive considering his high K rate (25.1%). However, he struck out at the highest rate of his career and can't hit righties (.198). Chris does have some value against lefties (.266 with 5 HR's and 19 RBI in 128 at bats). His resume is long enough to know what to expect. He has 20 HR power if he ever had 500 at bats, but his lack of contact will lead to him splitting time with Hank Conger. Iannetta has plenty of batting average risk and his opportunity for at bats is fading. He has no fantasy value other than an injury replacement.

9. SS Erick Aybar

Erick Aybar fantasy baseball

With more exposure at the top of the lineup, Aybar looked like a misplaced hitter. He is a career .277 hitter, but his on base % (.317) remains short, which tells me he doesn't belong at the top of the batting order. His speed has declined over the last 2 years. Erick's K rate (10.%) and walk rate (3.9 %) have also declined over the past 3 years. Last season, Aybar missed 3 weeks in April with a heel injury. Over the 2nd half of last year, Erick hit .251 with only 3 HR's and 20 RBI. Aybar is a GB hitter (49.7%) with a short FB rate (27.5% - lowest in his last 7 years). Aybar has no upside in power and his value is just about gone if he doesn't steal 20+ bags. I believe his days as a lead off hitter are over unless he hits .320 this season.

10. C Hank Conger

Last year, he hit .249 with 7 HR's and 21 RBI. His K rate (23.9%) was much higher than his minor league resume (14.7%). Conger has a much steadier skill set than Iannetta, but he hasn't made that step forward yet. Possible .300 upside in batting average and 15+ HR's with 400+ at bats.

11. MI Andrew Romine

He is a .279 career hitter in the minors with 23 HR's and 182 SB's. Romine will start the year at age 28. He has no upside other than SB's off the bench.

12. 3B Luis Jimenez

Last year, Jimenez had a chance at regular at bats early in the year with the Angels, but he came up empty too many times (no HR's in 105 at bats with only 5 RBI). Luis had 28 K's and only 2 walks in the majors. He is a career .302 hitter in the minors with 80 HR's, 426 RBI, and 90 SB's in 2285 at bats. Jimenez will be the first option off the bench if Freese has a problem at 3B.

13. OF J.B. Shuck

He played pretty well in his 437 at bats in the majors last season (.293), but he lacked power (2 HR's) and didn't run (8 SB's). Shuck is career .301 hitter in the minors with only 7 HR's and 74 SB's in 2016 at bats. He is a left handed hitter, so he should steal at bats from Calhoun. J.B. had more walks (256) than K's (210) during his minor league career. Shuck should be the utility outfielder for the Angels this year.


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