2011 Fantasy Baseball Team Preview: LA Angels (of Anaheim) Projections & Auction Values
Mike Scioscia continues to confound. This offseason, the Angels decided to trade their power-hitting catcher (Mike Napoli) and hand the everyday job to Jeff Mathis (career OPS .576).
They also decided to move one of the greatest glovemen to ever play Center Field (Torii Hunter) to right field to make room for Peter Bourjos (career OPS .618 and a K:BB ratio of 40:6). There’s more, but let’s get to the preview…
Mixed league auction values in parentheses
Catcher: JEFF MATHIS ($0) / HANK CONGER ($1) – Mathis, the aforementioned light-hitting but apparently perfect-fielding catcher, is the apple of former catcher Scioscia’s eye and the starting catcher. He is not worth owning in any format, except maybe AL-only with two starting catchers.
Hank Conger, on the other hand, has just 29 major league at-bats, but was a first round pick in 2006 and has displayed double-digit power with a batting average around .300 in the minors. He’s worth a dollar, but only if Scioscia plays him…and I wouldn’t get my hopes up.
First Base: MARK TRUMBO ($3) /KENDRYS MORALES ($20) – This tale, one that everyone knows well, is a sad one. Morales comes from Cuba, bides his time in the minors before being called up, positively rakes in 2009, does the same in 2010 until he breaks his leg jumping on the plate after hitting a walk-off grand slam. Despite his recent setback with foot pain, he’s still on track to play the majority of this season.
But now certain to start the season on the DL, Morales’ spot will be held by rookie Mark Trumbo. Although he didn’t do much in his September call up, Trumbo had a monster AAA season in 2010 – .301 BA, 36 HR, 122 RBI and an OPS of .945. He has steadily improved throughout the minors, and looks ready. First base is so deep this year that Trumbo can slide through the cracks, so grab him late or put him on a watch list.
Second Base: HOWIE KENDRICK ($8) – I will start by saying I am not, and have never been, a fan of Kendrick’s. His batting average has fallen four consecutive years, he has played one complete season in the majors, he doesn’t do any one thing exceptionally well , and his career OPS is a wildly unexceptional .752. He’s now had two seasons of batting over .300 and two seasons under, and the barely double-digit home runs are not enough to make up for the rest. If you have to buy him, don’t pay more than $8 and please don’t take him ahead of Gordon Beckham, Aaron Hill, Mike Aviles, or even Ryan Raburn.
Third Base: ALBERTO CALLASPO ($2) – Maybe Brandon Wood ends up with this job, but until Wood shows an ability to be anything more than a Quad-A player, Callaspo is the guy. He put up solid numbers on the Royals in 2009 and 2010, but seemed to lose his way a little bit when he came to the Angels in the middle of 2010. I see a return to worthiness, however, with an average around .280, 8-12 homers and 50-60 RBI. Not great, but worthwhile in AL-only leagues for sure.
Shortstop: ERICK AYBAR/MAICER IZTURIS ($2) – Neither of these guys should be drafted in mixed leagues, but both are worthwhile in AL-only. Izturis plays 2B, 3B and SS and is a useful player for a buck or two; Aybar is the better player, and had a very solid 2009 season (.312 BA, 14 SB, 70 R) and should lead off when he plays. But no more than $3, please.
Left Field: VERNON WELLS ($12) – So which Vernon Wells do we see in 2011? The one who averaged 28 homers and 97 RBI from 2002 through 2006, or the one with 17 homers and 75 RBI from 2007 through 2009, or the one with an inexplicable 31 homers and 88 RBI in 2010? My guess is somewhere between the latter two. I don’t think he’ll hit 30 again, but 20-25 is not unrealistic, to go with 80 RBI, assuming the table-setters in front of him can get on base. So I’d pay for what I think he is – a 32 year-old corner outfielder with decent numbers and one outlier season over the past four.
Center Field: PETER BOURJOS ($2) – Another big question mark. Yes, he’s flashed lots of speed in the minors (though his steals have declined as he’s risen in level) and his batting average is good, but forgive me if I don’t quite understand why they moved Torii from center field. Bourjos has flashed some double-digit power, and has averaged 36 steals the past three seasons, but his biggest value is his defense. Which most owners don’t get credit for. He wasn’t drafted in my 12-team Mixed league, and shouldn’t be in yours.
Right Field : TORII HUNTER ($17) – To me, Torii is one of, if not THE most, underrated player in Roto. Never fewer than 21 home runs in a full season, and only twice under 90 RBI. 2010 was the second time since 2003 than he had fewer than 18 steals. I don’t think you can count on 20/20 anymore, but as shallow as the outfield is this year, it doesn’t get much more consistent than Torii.
Outfield: REGGIE WILLITS ($1) – Put simply, Reggie Willits holds no value in mixed leagues. In AL-only leagues, he should only be owned if two things happen: (a) someone ahead of him gets hurt for an extended period of time; and (b) he shows he can hit higher than .258 with a couple of steals. If BOTH of those things don’t happen, Willits is not your man.
Designated Hitter: BOBBY ABREU ($15) – Another model of consistency, no matter his age. Always good for 15-25 homers and 25-35 steals, Abreu is often undervalued (going in the early teen rounds in most drafts). He’s driven in fewer than 100 runs twice since 2000, and usually hits a respectable .280-.300. You may see a dip in those numbers this year as a full-time DH and being a year older, but I still have confidence he can get it done. But you can probably get his clone without the steals – aka Hideki Matsui – for much cheaper.
Written exclusively for The Fantasy Fix by Jesse Mendelson. Find and follow Jesse on Facebook.
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(February 20, 20112011-02-20 16:00:00 – Photo by Rob Tringali/Getty Images North America)