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2015 Los Angeles Angels Team Preview: Fantasy 30 For 30

Before looking ahead to the 2015 Los Angeles Angels team preview, we should look back at last year’s team.

Mike Trout play like Mike Trout. The team got out-of-nowhere contributions from Kole Calhoun, who cemented himself as the Angels’ leadoff hitter.

Chris Iannetta posted a .373 OBP and served as the team’s main backstop. And Garrett Richards had top-of-the-rotation stuff before injuring his knee.

All of this combined to steamroll the American league into an MLB best 98 wins. Fantasy stats was available in bunches (except for Josh Hamilton owners) with Huston Street shutting down the door with 41 saves, and a lineup producing MLB’s most runs scored.

There were even a few surprise starters in Richards and Matt Shoemaker, and the vet Jared Weaver turned in another workman-like season of 213.1 innings and 18 Wins.

We took the projected lineup, rotation and bullpen from

2015 Los Angeles Angels’ Projected “Go-To” Lineup

  1. RF Kole Calhoun
  2. SS Erick Aybar
  3. CF Mike Trout
  4. 1B Albert Pujols
  5. LF Matt Joyce
  6. 3B David Freese
  7. DH CJ Cron
  8. 2B Josh Rutledge
  9. C Chris Iannetta

The Angels lineup obviously has its centerpiece in Mike Trout, but they also feature a bunch of average to above average bats. When your centerpiece is the reigning MVP, you have a pretty good chance to be great.

The big exception in the lineup above is Josh Hamilton starting the season on the shelf after shoulder surgery and after last season’s slash line of .263/.331/.415 (career low 10 HRs). It’s anyone’s guess what shape Josh will be in once he does get going.

The good thing is the Angels can fall back on Matt Joyce, a lefty hitting on-base machine of a player acquired from Tampa Bay, as someone who might actually be an upgrade from the free-swinging Hamilton.

Josh Rutledge’s cameo in Colorado’s top prospect board and eventual big-league chance was a flop from the outset, but still displayed a bat able to hit 10-15 HRs with a little speed at an up-the-middle position, and at 25 years old, he will definitely be given a long leash.

Don’t be surprised to see Grant Green make an appearance at 2B, as the 27-year-old showed last year, his Fantasy prospects are probably a little better than zero.

Projected Pitching

Angels Starting Rotation
  1. RHP Jared Weaver
  2. LHP CJ Wilson
  3. RHP Matt Shoemaker
  4. LHP Hector Santiago
  5. LHP Andrew Heaney

*RHP Garrett Richards is expected return from injury

Angels Bullpen
  • RHP Huston Street (closer)
  • RHP Joe Smith (setup)
  • RHP Fernando Salas (setup)

2015 Los Angeles Angels Fantasy Studs

Mike Trout finally got his MVP award after two years of finishing second during what was arguably the greatest three-year stretch to start an MLB career. Trout is expected to shoulder the load yet again, and another whopper of a year is on the way. That means 30 HRs and 20 SBs are the norm, not to mention all the counting stats (RBI, Runs, Hits) you could want batting third. Trout will undoubtedly go first overall in all Fantasy drafts.

Albert Pujols comes into 2015 a little slimmer, with no nagging injury issues, which have plagued his short Angels career. That seems to be a good place to start, considering that each of the previous three years, we have not been able to say the same things, which has led to a disappointing second half of a Hall-of-Fame career.

Pujols slash line last year was .272/.324/.466, and the expectation among all Angels managers, players, and execs is for Pujols to come back stronger and healthier. This should cement him as a top 10 first baseman through the next few years, as the twilight of his career resumes.

Breakout Candidate: Garrett Richards

The 26-year-old baby faced kid with an electric fastball certainly delivered in his first year as a converted bullpen arm to frontline starter. He did so in style, with an average fastball velocity of 96.4mph (No. 1 in MLB among starting pitchers). He looked very much like a future Cy Young candidate, with his 2.61 ERA and 13 wins through two thirds of a season.

Then, all of a sudden, one August night in Boston, it took a turn for the worse. The bad news was he was out for the rest of 2014, the good news… well… at least the injury wasn’t to his throwing arm. It was to his knee, from when he attempted to cover first base, ending up with a dislocated knee cap, corrected through surgery.

The fact is his right arm still throws 96, possesses Cy Young stuff, and he’s the Angels’ unquestioned Game 1 starter should they make the postseason again. Richards should be ready to go from Day 1, if not very soon after. It looks like all systems go for Richards to continue to develop into one of the best starting pitchers in baseball. Expect a stud who possesses a high ceiling, and money in the bank for 15 wins, 180 innings, 170 Ks, and the upside of Chris Sale.

Sleeper Candidate: Matt Shoemaker

Shoemaker was the Angels best pitcher during a 72-inning, 1.87 ERA second-half last year, which also included an oblique injury in September. He returned to turn in a six-inning, six-strikeout, zero-walk, zero-ER playoff start.

Shoemaker has shown, during his meteoric rise from minor-league depth arm to playoff starter for the AL best Angels, that he has brought his control with him at every stop in his long journey. In today’s game of suppressed offense, the single thing a pitcher can do to help himself is not walk anyone and Shoemaker checks that box with a fantastic walk rate of 1.59 BB/9.

“Buy low” may be the wrong term, but projection systems all over the Fantasy landscape have him underrated still in my opinion.

Bust Candidate: Josh Hamilton

Is Hamilton a great fielding, excellent hitting, speedy MVP or was his tremendous first half of 2012 (.308 avg, 27 HRs) a fluke?

The last few years, Hamilton has been a shell of his former MVP self, who often times looked lost at the plate last year. Obviously, the answer is somewhere in the large middle of those projections. The prospect of preseason shoulder surgery is starting to look an awful lot like the shell of his former self. Plus, reports that he might have violated the league’s drug policy makes this a player to avoid until the very late rounds.

Matt Joyce is insurance for Hamilton, so the Angels can ride with a lefty hitter in right — just not the one they are paying $125 million.

Top Rookies: Andrew Heaney

Heaney is a highly regarded prospect received in the trade of fan favorite Howie Kendrick, so the pressure will be pretty high. Throw in the team you traded with was your hated “crosstown” team and you have yourself the makings of something spectacular.

Heaney is one of the top pitching prospects in the game and being a lefty certainly helps. He has very easy mid-90s velocity, with a wipeout curveball, that projects nicely, but Spring Training will be his chance to wrestle the fifth spot in the rotation away from Hector Santiago and Nick Tropeano.

What Should We Know About the 2015 Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim?

2015 Team Previews: AL West
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If you take out the MLB playoffs, the Angels were the best team in baseball last year, rattling off an impressive 98 wins. They made very few changes to an already potent lineup and a healthy Garret Richards looks like the World Series is the target again this year.

Fantasy numbers should be plentiful in a lineup that centers around Trout and Pujols, and pitching will again be the question for a team that ended 15th in team ERA last season. A better year from C.J. Wilson (4.51 ERA, 4.35 BB/9) will go a long way in improving that.

David Freese, Chris Ianetta, and Kole Calhoun are Fantasy relevant coming into 2015 when you realize that this lineup led the MLB in runs scored.

Coming into 2015, Erick Aybar should be slotted in the two-hole in a special lineup behind Trout and Pujols. Without causing an enormous debate on whether lineup protection is relevant or not, it’s the inevitable runs scored that I’m looking for when drafting Aybar late.

Check out the other “Fantasy 30 for 30” MLB Team previews here!

Mike Trout Photo Credit: Keith Allison

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