Over the course of 30 days (or so) I will be previewing all 30 MLB teams, followed by an overall season prediction post, leading up to the start of the 2015 season. This post is previewing the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.
The Angels are looking to win their second straight American League West title, and they have the reigning AL MVP, OF Mike Trout, to help them do it. There are some changes to the roster, with longtime 2B Howie Kendrick traded to the Dodgers and replaced by 2B Johnny Giavotella, acquired this offseason from the Royals. And there is some question about when OF Josh Hamilton will be able to play. He’s currently rehabbing a shoulder injury and faces a potential drug-related suspension from MLB.
Last season saw the Angels tied for the third-best batting average in the AL at .259, fourth-best OPS (.728), and tied for the fourth-most home runs with 155. They also led the league with 4.77 runs per game. The pitching wasn’t as good, though, as the team’s 3.58 ERA was the seventh-best in the league, and the staff allowed more runs per game than the league average, at 3.89.
Hendrick’s departure could lead to a reduction in the team’s offensive production this season, as he led the team in batting average and was near the top of the team in other offensive categories, including RBIs and runs. Giavotella’s career batting average is only .238, but that is in limited major league experience; he has just 437 career at-bats in 125 games in the majors. Even though it’s a small sample size, it doesn’t bode well for what kind of production he can be expected to put up over the course of a full season. The pitching staff remains largely intact from last season.
The Angels won the division last year with a 10-game lead over the A’s and 11 over the Mariners. The Mariners made some moves to improve their team during the offseason, but the Angels had such a big lead in 2014 that I don’t think any other team in the division would be able to overcome it to win the AL West. So I think it’s going to be a second-straight division title for the Angels.