The Los Angeles Angels are looking to contend this season, after a subpar 2016 season, it appears they’ll make some noise.
The Los Angeles Angels finished 2016 with just 74 wins. While it was problematic, there wasn’t a lot of blame to go around. Injuries are a nature of the game, and with that, comes the risk for any player that takes the field.
In the Angels’ case, injuries crippled this team’s chances at contention. However, the team is making moves and rebuilding the 25-man roster piece by piece. Adding Danny Espinosa was arguably the biggest move of the offseason. Although, the Angels didn’t tweak the starting rotation much.
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The Angels added Jesse Chavez to the rotation mix, they’re also allowing J.C. Ramirez to throw during Spring Training with a chance to start. Still, there are varying degrees of success for the Angels. One is the fact that Garrett Richards will be healthy to start the season, another is Mike Trout and Albert Pujols.
The Angels have a chance to contend this season. When the season begins, it’s a clean slate. This will provide the Angels with a chance to fly under the radar as most MLB experts have already counted them out. Even with Trout, most believe the Angels won’t have enough on the mound to compete. However, there are other reason’s that could define the Angels success.
This season not only sets the stage for the immediate future of the Angels, it also will play a significant role in Trout’s future with the franchise. To put it bluntly, the Angels must win games and challenge for the AL West this season.
Here are the three factors that will help the Angels compete this season.
This is huge for the Angels, after the amazing amount of players that saw the DL last season, the Angels have just two players on the DL to start the season. Those players are Andrew Heaney and Nick Tropeano. Both of whom aren’t expected to play until 2018.
Richards is expected to be ready and 100% by Opening Day. Richards received stem-cell injections after opting against Tommy John surgery last season. Pujols is also expected to be ready for Opening Day after having successful surgery on his right foot.
Looking at the 25-man roster, the first thing you’ll notice is the pitching staff is almost 100%. The Angels made some offseason moves and signed some minor league guys to help in the bullpen. It’s unclear how effective these young pitchers will be. However, it’s good to have a ton of depth, which it looks like the Angels have.
The Angels also upgraded positions where health became of great concern like left field. The Angels brought in Cameron Maybin and Ben Revere to offset Daniel Nava and Craig Gentry. With the Angels looking healthy, this season becomes doable for the Halos.
When the news broke that the Angels signed Espinosa, most of the fans were somewhat excited. I instantly took to Twitter to comment on what was a huge offseason move. I finally believed that GM Billy Eppler had done something of value to this club.
Espinosa brings his 24 homers, 72 RBI’s, and .209 average with him to Anaheim. Something the Angels haven’t had aside from guys like Trout and Pujols. Strengthening the batters at the plate was clearly a move Eppler wanted to make.
Following the Espinosa move, the Angels also acquired Revere who also has a decent bat. The Kentucky native drove in 24 RBI’s last season. C.J. Cron will also look to extend his decent hitting from last season as well. Cron finished 2016 with a .278 average, including 16 homers and 69 RBI’s.
Aug 28, 2016; Detroit, MI, USA; in the sixth inning Detroit Tigers center fielder Cameron Maybin (4) tries to make a diving catch of a ball hit by Los Angeles Angels designated hitter Albert Pujols (not pictured) at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
The Angels focused on defense this offseason
The Angels added Andrelton Simmons and Yunel Escobar after the 2015 season. They added Espinosa, Maybin, Revere, and catcher Martin Maldonado following the 2016 season. By beefing up position players with some defensive standouts, you help minimize the mistakes made by the pitching staff.
The pitching staff appears to be the only question mark for the Angels. While on paper, there are inconsistencies within the starting rotation. For example, Chavez has only pitched as a starter for two of his 11 seasons as a major league pitcher. While not a dealbreaker, it’s still somewhat questionable. However, he may turn out to be a hidden gem for the Angels.