2016 Fantasy Baseball: Los Angeles Angels Team Preview
The Los Angeles Angels have arguably baseball’s best player. Most of the rest of their hitters could find playing time on their local minor league squad, however. There are a few Angels you’ll want to roster this year, but with Albert Pujols projected to miss the opening of the season due to foot surgery, this outfit isn’t as highly regarded as it once was.
- Catcher: Carlos Perez
- First base: C.J. Cron
- Second base: Johnny Giavotella
- Third base: Yunel Escobar
- Shortstop: Andrelton Simmons
- Left field: Todd Cunningham
- Center field: Mike Trout
- Right field: Kole Calhoun
- Designated hitter: Daniel Nava
Trout should be one of the first players selected in any draft. His stolen bases declined again last year, but he hit over 40 bombs for the first time. There’s no reason to discuss him any further. Calhoun is the second Angels’ hitter you should look to roster. He continued in 2015 what he started the year before, blasting 26 homers – tied for ninth among outfielders. He’s going 32nd among outfielders in NFBC drafts, and he’s worth taking even several spots earlier.
C.J. Cron is really the only other hitter I’d look at rostering as a reserve. He hit 16 home runs in 404 plate appearances last year. He has a .184 career Isolated power, which is three points higher than Freddie Freeman‘s career number. So if he gets a season’s worth of playing time, Cron could hit around 25 homers. He won’t help you much anywhere else, but in a power-starved game, he can help you with his power. The rest of this lineup had a combined 22 home runs and 14 steals last year.
The only starter you should want from the Angels is Richards, who’s currently going 29th among starters in NFBC drafts. That’s a good spot for him, and he should be a very good No. 3 starter for your fantasy team. He threw his first 200-inning season last year after coming back from a leg injury suffered late in 2014. He turned it on later in the season, improving his xFIP from 4 to 3.5 and his strikeout rate from 18 percent to 22 percent in the second half. Those numbers more closely resemble his breakout 2014, so there’s hope here that he still has some room to grow in 2016.
Heaney put up a decent 3.49 ERA in his first 100-inning season as a 23-year-old. However, his xFIP was 4.41 due to a seven percent home run/fly ball rate not buoyed by a 38 percent ground ball rate. There’s some reward in this arm, but don’t overreach for him in your draft.
- Closer: Huston Street
- Setup men: Joe Smith, Fernando Salas
Street posted his second straight 40-save season last year. However, his strikeout, walk and home run rates were below average compared to his career rates, and his FIP and xFIP indicate he didn’t pitch as well as his 3.18 ERA suggests. It’s so hard to analyze relievers, and Street will finish with another 30-plus saves as long as he stays healthy. I’d choose some high-strikeout closers over him though, as they should have more ways to help you.
Smith and Salas led the Angels in appearances and holds last year, but Smith’s lack of strikeouts and Salas’s ineffectiveness make these two less than appealing options. If your league counts holds, take Smith over Salas but not over any of the high-strikeout holds guys.
The Angels currently have one of the barest farm systems in the Majors, and Baseball Prospectus says the Angels, outside of Mike Trout, have “one of the worst collections of 25-and-under talent in the league.” Their top two prospects are still years away without much upside, while their prospect depth consists of mostly low-upside players.
Roster and prospect information provided by Roster Resource and Baseball Prospectus; stats provided by Fangraphs
I think Andrew got that lineup from rosterresource.com. Pujols is listed as being on the disabled list because of his offseason surgery, but he should hopefully be back between mid April and early May.