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2016 Team Previews: Los Angeles Angels

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Throughout the long, cold offseason, I am doing team by team previews to get you ready for the 2016 fantasy baseball season. Today it's the Angels.

Mike Trout isn't the only fantasy relevant Angel, but he's certainly on his own level. What Angels will succeed in 2016?
Mike Trout isn't the only fantasy relevant Angel, but he's certainly on his own level. What Angels will succeed in 2016?
Jim Cowsert-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to my 2016 fantasy team previews. I will be breaking down 2016 prospects for the relevant fantasy players on all 30 teams, one team at a time. Check back throughout the offseason for new team previews. You can catch up on old ones in my archive (here) or in the section (here). Because there are 30 teams to cover in limited time, I have to get started now, even though there will certainly be some trades that move players around and open up larger roles for existing players. Also, free agents and guys that moved midseason will be analyzed with one of the teams they played for, even though they likely (or definitely) won't be on that team in 2016 so they don't get missed. Hopefully you can bear with me on those issues and remember that these were written before those trades occurred.

I am starting at the bottom of the standings and working my way up. In each team preview, I will attempt to follow the same layout. First, there will be two tables of stats for hitters (showing stats acquired while playing for this team; traded players will be missing some stats) followed by quick analysis of the most fantasy relevant of those hitters (relevance at my discretion). After that, two tables for the pitching stats and some pitcher analysis. I will then present one breakout player (aka sleeper) and one breakdown player (or bust, if you prefer) for the team. Got it? Ok, let's get started.

Los Angeles Angels

Hitters

Name Position PA HR R RBI SB CS BB% K% AVG OBP SLG
Albert Pujols 1B 661 40 85 95 5 3 7.60% 10.90% 0.244 0.307 0.48
C.J. Cron 1B 404 16 37 51 3 1 4.20% 20.30% 0.262 0.3 0.439
Johnny Giavotella 2B 502 4 51 49 2 1 6.40% 11.80% 0.272 0.318 0.375
Taylor Featherston 2B, SS, 3B 169 2 23 9 4 2 4.10% 27.20% 0.162 0.212 0.247
David Freese 3B 470 14 53 56 1 1 6.60% 22.80% 0.257 0.323 0.42
Carlos Perez C 283 4 20 21 2 0 6.70% 17.30% 0.25 0.299 0.346
Chris Iannetta C 317 10 28 34 0 1 12.90% 26.20% 0.188 0.293 0.335
Mike Trout OF 682 41 104 90 11 7 13.50% 23.20% 0.299 0.402 0.59
Kole Calhoun OF 686 26 78 83 4 1 6.60% 23.90% 0.256 0.308 0.422
David Murphy OF 162 5 16 23 0 1 2.50% 12.30% 0.265 0.281 0.4
Matt Joyce OF 284 5 17 21 0 3 10.60% 23.60% 0.174 0.272 0.291
Erick Aybar SS 638 3 74 44 15 6 3.90% 11.40% 0.27 0.301 0.338

Name BABIP LD% GB% FB% HR/FB SwStr% Soft% Med% Hard% ESPN Player Rater
Albert Pujols 0.217 15.90% 41.80% 42.20% 17.80% 6.60% 15.80% 51.20% 33.00% 6.75
C.J. Cron 0.293 18.40% 44.50% 37.10% 14.40% 10.10% 24.10% 48.50% 27.40% 1.66
Johnny Giavotella 0.301 23.70% 45.80% 30.50% 3.30% 6.00% 22.50% 58.90% 18.60% 1.08
Taylor Featherston 0.215 18.10% 47.60% 34.30% 5.60% 10.70% 22.10% 54.00% 23.90% -3.43
David Freese 0.31 17.50% 54.40% 28.10% 15.60% 9.90% 16.30% 50.00% 33.80% 1.69
Carlos Perez 0.292 19.80% 42.00% 38.20% 4.90% 7.20% 24.20% 54.90% 20.90% -1.77
Chris Iannetta 0.225 13.00% 39.10% 47.90% 10.90% 12.40% 18.20% 56.80% 25.00% -2.50
Mike Trout 0.344 24.40% 37.20% 38.40% 25.30% 7.50% 11.60% 47.60% 40.80% 11.28
Kole Calhoun 0.304 22.80% 41.80% 35.40% 15.70% 12.80% 19.10% 53.00% 28.00% 5.08
David Murphy 0.275 15.40% 53.70% 30.90% 11.90% 7.00% 25.00% 47.80% 27.20% 1.35
Matt Joyce 0.215 17.60% 40.70% 41.80% 6.60% 11.80% 19.70% 55.70% 24.60% #N/A
Erick Aybar 0.3 21.00% 52.60% 26.40% 2.30% 6.20% 17.00% 60.10% 23.00% 3.47

*Will lose this eligibility in 2016

**The ESPN player rater is based on a player's standard 5 x 5 category performance relative to average. A score of 0 is replacement level and negative values mean the player is actually hurting your team. Values in the 1-2 range generally are for your worst starting player, unless you are unlucky. There are no positional adjustments, though, so shortstops and catchers will often have very low scores relative to everyone else. It is normalized so that guys with little playing time can be compared to guys that played all year.

Analysis

So, we've come to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, or, roughly translated: the the angels angels of Anaheim. What a great name for a franchise! On to the players, where has this Albert Pujols been? 40 home runs! Sure, it was very up and down and he had a bad OBP and average, but those homers make up for a lot. He's been plagued by foot injuries for several years, but he did hit 28 home runs in 2014, so the power isn't that hard to believe. He'll be 36 and is still injury-prone in my book, so he will carry lots of risk. I expect about 30 HR in a full healthy season (40 isn't happening again) with a poor average and OBP. He is one of the most extreme pull hitters in baseball now and that will keep his BABIP low with all the shifts. The pulling and fly ball % ensure that the power should stick around, but the average will hurt you. He should continue to hit in the middle of the order, so the RBI should certainly be there with Trout in front of him.

C.J. Cron showed good power but not much else. He's going to need more playing time, a better average, and fewer strikeouts to be valuable as a 1B-only player. Right now, he's only for AL-only leagues.

Johnny Giavotella had an OK first full season, but he's basically Scooter Gennett. A guy who can ride a good BABIP to a 0.300 season, with little power or speed. That's not worth much, even at second base.

David Freese put up another boring, consistent season. There's no upside, but also little downside here. He's an OK option at corner infield in very deep leagues, but that's about it. He's currently looking for a job, so if anyone has 8 mil lying around, throw it his way.

You don't want any of the catchers on this team.

Only Bryce Harper could make Mike Trout's season look unimpressive. Trout's consistent dominance is why he should be the #1 pick in all fantasy drafts until further notice. The combination of health, power, OBP, average, OPS, and even some steals is unrivaled (except maybe by Paul Goldschmidt). I get paid the big bucks to make bold statements like that.

Steamer projects Kole Calhoun to put up a nearly identical season in 2016 as he did in 2015. I think that is very reasonable and have nothing to add.

Erick Aybar got shipped off to Atlanta, but he's lost most of his fantasy value anyway. He has decent speed and an OK average, but that's it. I think he will be pushed by the up-and-coming shortstops in Atlanta and may be a part time player late in the season. That makes him not worth it.

Andrelton Simmons (Aybar's replacement) was profiled with the Braves and Yunel Escobar, the new 3B in Anaheim, was profiled with the Nationals. Neither offers much excitement for fantasy, with Escobar having the better value of the two.

Daniel Nava is interesting, but he is a long way off from his good years in Boston. He should get the strong side of a LF platoon and has a good OBP, but little else. His power is poor and his average is entirely dependent on his BABIP, so I wouldn't expect much. I like him for his work in Boston a few years ago, but he's not good enough for fantasy.

Roberto Baldoquin (2B/SS) and Kyle Kubitza (3B) are two "prospects" that could play for the Angels in 2016 on the hitting side. Neither has much upside or a path to regular playing time, so don't bother with them.

Pitchers

Name Position IP ERA FIP xFIP WHIP BABIP LOB% GB% SwStr%
Cesar Ramos RP, SP* 52.1 2.75 3.02 3.79 1.34 0.335 79.80% 47.10% 8.90%
Trevor Gott RP 47.2 3.02 3.74 4.44 1.24 0.266 74.30% 57.20% 6.00%
Huston Street RP 62.1 3.18 3.73 4.14 1.16 0.263 80.40% 34.50% 13.20%
Jose Alvarez RP 67 3.49 3.6 3.9 1.21 0.277 72.20% 51.00% 10.90%
Joe Smith RP 65.1 3.58 3.15 3.42 1.27 0.317 74.30% 52.10% 7.50%
Fernando Salas RP 63.2 4.24 3.15 3.23 1.15 0.308 64.80% 35.10% 12.90%
Cory Rasmus RP, SP* 20.2 5.23 4.15 4.05 1.26 0.261 65.80% 37.50% 13.80%
Cam Bedrosian RP 33.1 5.4 4.15 4.45 1.77 0.378 70.40% 42.90% 6.80%
Mike Morin RP 35.1 6.37 2.85 3.46 1.27 0.344 44.40% 38.90% 15.50%
Andrew Heaney SP 105.2 3.49 3.73 4.41 1.2 0.284 76.40% 38.30% 8.60%
Hector Santiago SP, RP* 180.2 3.59 4.77 5 1.26 0.252 79.90% 29.90% 8.50%
Garrett Richards SP 207.1 3.65 3.86 3.8 1.24 0.274 71.80% 54.90% 11.10%
Nick Tropeano SP 37.2 3.82 2.6 3.64 1.33 0.342 67.80% 38.50% 11.50%
C.J. Wilson SP 132 3.89 4.02 4.24 1.24 0.281 73.80% 43.10% 8.60%
Matt Shoemaker SP 135.1 4.46 4.59 4.16 1.26 0.285 74.10% 39.20% 9.10%
Jered Weaver SP 159 4.64 4.81 5.1 1.23 0.273 71.10% 34.40% 8.30%

Name SV HLD K% BB% Soft% Med% Hard% ESPN Player Rater
Cesar Ramos 0 5 19.50% 6.80% 14.40% 56.90% 28.80% -0.11
Trevor Gott 0 14 13.40% 7.90% 26.30% 53.90% 19.90% 0.16
Huston Street 40 0 22.40% 7.80% 12.90% 60.70% 26.40% 5.85
Jose Alvarez 0 7 20.90% 8.10% 21.40% 58.70% 19.90% 0.69
Joe Smith 5 32 21.00% 7.00% 20.20% 52.90% 26.90% 1.17
Fernando Salas 0 17 27.50% 4.50% 12.20% 58.30% 29.40% 0.83
Cory Rasmus 0 1 30.70% 12.50% 18.40% 51.00% 30.60% -1.65
Cam Bedrosian 0 1 21.80% 12.20% 14.90% 52.50% 32.70% #N/A
Mike Morin 1 5 27.20% 6.00% 33.30% 41.40% 25.30% -1.14
Andrew Heaney 0 0 17.80% 6.40% 15.30% 51.20% 33.40% 1.80
Hector Santiago 0 0 20.90% 9.20% 15.20% 51.60% 33.20% 3.68
Garrett Richards 0 0 20.40% 8.80% 22.70% 53.60% 23.70% 5.34
Nick Tropeano 0 0 23.60% 6.20% 11.50% 63.70% 24.80% -0.58
C.J. Wilson 0 0 19.90% 8.30% 14.50% 53.50% 32.00% 2.14
Matt Shoemaker 0 0 20.40% 6.20% 18.10% 51.00% 30.90% 1.18
Jered Weaver 0 0 13.50% 4.90% 21.00% 49.10% 30.00% 0.63

*If they were outside the top 550 pitchers on the player rater, they will show up as #N/A

Analysis

Let's take a look at this rotation. First, Garrett Richards returned from an injury-shortened breakout season in 2014 and played just OK. He didn't look like the 2014 version. His strikeout rate fell by 4%, his walk rate went up 1.3%, his WHIP skyrocketed from 1.04 to 1.24, and his ERA, FIP, and xFIP all jumped up. Here's the good news: he maintained his excellent ground ball rate, stayed healthy, still averaged over 95 on his fastball, was victimized by bad luck in the form of a low strand rate, and had a career high swinging strike rate. He still got above average whiff rates on three pitches, which is great. I believe in his talent and his strikeout ability and fully expect a rebound to something close to 2014. I will be investing heavily in Richards wherever I can in 2016. Hopefully, he will come at a discount after his down 2015. He's a great pick to outperform his draft position.

Andrew Heaney is still young. That's about as much as he has going for him at this point. He was once considered a very good pitching prospect, but his flyball-heavy, low-strikeout ways are not promising. His FIP and xFIP are average or worse. That swinging strike rate is below average. He could certainly improve as he learns and he has yet to pitch in the majors for an entire season, but I'm not buying in. I think he is a #4 starter and nothing more than a streamer for fantasy.

If you are picking a young Angels starter not named Richards, Nick Tropeano should be the one. In a very small sample, he showed great strikeout ability, very good control, and swing and miss stuff that is electric. Throw in the fact that he was unlucky with both a very high BABIP and a low strand rate, both of which drove up his ERA and WHIP. He was a pretty extreme fly ball pitcher, which isn't ideal, but if you can get the strikeouts and play in a big ball park like Anaheim, you can make it work. Steamer projects him for a 3.45 ERA in 2016 and I could see him beating even that. His two-seam fastball (his most-used pitch) is awful, but his other three pitches are all excellent. If he could throw the four seam more and the two-seam less, he could push that ERA down to 3.3 or lower. He's already at a strikeout per inning, so if he can just maintain that, he will have plenty of strikeouts.

He should be the second best pitcher in this rotation in 2016. Despite everything I like about him, he is currently #7 on the Angels depth chart (in January), so he doesn't yet have a rotation spot. Playing time will be the biggest concern and should keep his draft price very low, unless he earns a job in the spring. Jered Weaver is done, but is paid so much they have to give him a spot. It's a similar situation with C.J. Wilson, who looks like a shell of his former self with little hope of recovery, but they are going to give him a spot anyway. That leaves Heaney, who I already discussed, and the de-facto #5 Hector Santiago. I think Nick will get a shot.

I didn't forget about Matt Shoemaker, I just don't think he's that good. He did well in 2014, but that looks like an anomaly now, not a new level. With his poor velocity, he has to have elite command and control to keep up his 2014 pace. Just look at Phil Hughes. He had a great 2014 with that skill set, but returned to being mediocre in 2015.

There is one more young starter to cover. Tyler Skaggs missed all of 2015 after Tommy John surgery, but showed great promise before his injury. He'll be back in 2016. He is listed way down at #8 on the depth chart right now, but like Tropeano, that could easily change. Based on what we saw before the injury, I would put Skaggs ahead of Heaney but behind Richards and Tropeano in terms of talent. We'll see how much playing time he gets and how he throws after the surgery. Don't count on him for too much in 2016, but he could make a sneaky waiver pickup later on.

This bullpen is still led by Huston Street. His strikeout rate and swinging strike rate are still very good, but his FIP and xFIP look like a mediocre reliever, not a dominant closer. This was the worst xFIP of his career. As long as he can keep the home runs down (he allows a ton of fly balls) and maintain a stellar walk rate, he will probably keep his job. However, he's walking a fine line and I wouldn't be shocked to see him lose his closer job this year. There are more stable options on other teams for your fantasy closer.

Joe Smith has a been a reliable, boring setup guy for two years now. He pitches pretty well and seems to limit damage and keep his ERA below 3.5. He doesn't have the strikeouts you want from a fantasy reliever, but he gets lots of holds on this team and is consistent. Mike Morin and Fernando Salas are the best of the middle relievers. They both have great strikeout stuff and good control. Looking just at their peripherals, they should be better than Street or Smith, but taken as a whole and based on experience, they will slot behind those two. If there is a big shakeup in this 'pen, maybe one of these guys steps up and becomes a good closer. As always, watch out for closer job changes and jump on guys with great stuff that just need an opportunity.

There aren't any pitching prospects that could debut in 2016 that are worth mentioning. Their starter depth chart is already too full as it is.

Breakout

Nick Tropeano

I've already talked this guy up enough. With playing time, he could surprise everyone.

Breakdown

Huston Street

His slow skills decline coupled with a lengthy injury history and age mean any year could be the year he falls off. I have a feeling this is the year for the big decline in production that results in him losing his closer's job.

Check back soon for the next team preview as we keep moving up the standings. Tschus!