Los Angeles Angels – Predicted Finish: First Place, AL West
One thing is clear about the Angels. With their talent, whether they succeed or fail, it will be spectacular.
The team in Anaheim is absolutely loaded with All-Star and even potential Hall of Fame talent. From a fantasy standpoint, you’re not going to find a shortage of valuable players on this team. So on that note, let’s delve right on in.
Crackerjack Fantasy Options: I like everyone there except for Callaspo (numbers are too average for a good third base position) and Iannatta. Bourjos won’t fill up your fantasy stat line, but if he hits around .250 his steals should be pretty dang good. I’ve said this before, but think of him like a Coco Crisp or Rajai Davis.
What makes this team really good is how well they can mix things around. Trout will likely stay in the top spot, while Pujols, Hamilton, and Trumbo should be the 3-5 hitters. But Kendrick, Aybar, Callaspo, and even Bourjos can all be mixed into different spots throughout the season. If this team can pitch in clutch situations, it’s not hard to see a deep October run. While we’re on the subject of pitching.
|1 Starter||Jered Weaver||30||R||230||55||16||175||0||2.90||1.11|
|2 Starter||C.J. Wilson||32||L||210||79||14||182||0||3.51||1.22|
|3 Starter||Jason Vargas||30||L||215||56||15||145||0||3.60||1.20|
|4 Starter||Tommy Hanson||26||R||160||53||10||143||0||4.27||1.37|
|5 Starter||Joe Blanton||32||R||165||32||9||145||0||4.75||1.30|
Crackerjack Fantasy Options: Everyone listed, except for possibly Tommy Hanson, who you’ll read more about in a second. Even Blanton can make a good spot start on your fantasy team. He doesn’t walk anyone, so he’s unlikely to hurt you much on one start, although I wouldn’t make him a full time guy.
Wilson’s a little bit worrisome to me and I may not start him against some of the better hitting teams. But more often than not, I think you can count on him. And while respect what guest poster Bryan Curley said about Jered Weaver, I think it’s a classic case of over-analyzing things. I wouldn’t mind being wrong because I really don’t like Weaver at all, but over the last three years, the guy has gone 51-25 and in 648.2 innings, has posted 573 strikeouts, an ERA of 2.73, and a WHIP of 1.034. A slight regression is certainly possible, but I don’t see a nosedive happening.
I’d also like to remind everyone about Madson. He missed last season but before that was one of the best relief pitchers in the game. The Angels expect him back by spring training and I really expect a bounce-back year in 2013.
Fantasy Star: Mike Trout
You can see that I penciled him in for a little regression, but not much. I do think that pitchers will make some adjustments to him, which will hurt a little. I also think that with the addition of Hamilton, he won’t have quite the power swing.
Still, the guy is a phenom. He reminds me of a young Barry Bonds, or Rickey Henderson, in that his game just doesn’t have any weaknesses. In terms of active players contributing everywhere, only Ryan Braun can rival Trout (if you need more power, go with Braun, if you need more steals and runs, go with Trout). Even on a team that’s this loaded with talent, Trout’s really on his own fantasy (baseball) island.
Fantasy Bust: Tommy Hanson
What does worry me is that the Braves traded Hanson for a Jekyll and Hyde reliever Jordan Walden, when Atlanta already boasts one of the best bullpens in the league. I’m also a little worried that despite the fact that the Angels will need to find a spot for Garrett Richards, they still tendered Jerome Williams and signed Joe Blanton. Maybe it’s all just for insurance, you can never have too much good pitching. But I think they’re a little on the concerned side with Hanson, too. The guy has only hit 200 innings once in his career, so I can’t blame them.
Fantasy Sleepers: Erick Aybar, Howie Kendrick, Jason Vargas
Aybar: I’d like to paint you a picture. As you may or may not know, Nash will be getting married early in 2013. I’m imagining at the wedding, we’ll get to the point about asking about if anyone has any objections. At that point, we’ll all look around the corner to see Erick Aybar with a boombox playing Baby Come Back by Player, at which point Nash will go into a few seconds of deep thought and ultimately choose to stay at the altar, of course leaving Aybar crushed in the process.
In all seriousness, Nash is too hard on himself for what happened to Aybar in 2012. He hit .290, scored 67 runs, with eight homers, 45 RBI, and 20 steals. Not great but when you consider the position he plays, it’s not that bad.
Kendrick: Eerily similar to Aybar. Aybar scored more runs but Kendrick drove in more runs, more due to their placement in the order than anything else. Neither play a deep position, so both are worth rostering, especially in deep leagues or leagues with big benches. If a secondary player batting in the right spot of the Angels order this year, a hot streak could give some massive production.
Vargas: One day I will get married and the same scene I just played out with Nash and Erick Aybar may well apply to myself and Jason Vargas. This guy is a really good pitcher and he knows how to pitch in the AL West. Now that he’s going to a team that will support him better than the Mariners (not saying much), and not even downgrading in terms of how good his home park is to pitchers, Vargas is in pretty good shape for a strong season.
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