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AL West Preview: Los Angeles Angels

After a relatively quiet offseason, the Angels are well positioned to defend their AL West crown.

Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

AL West Previews: Seattle Mariners

At a Glance:

Angels (2014)

Batting (wRC+)

111 (2nd in AL)

Fielding (FanGraphs Defense)

0.9 (4th)

Starting Pitching (FIP-)

97 (5th)

Bullpen (FIP-)

90 (3rd)

Key Additions: OF Matt Joyce, IF Josh Rutledge, LHP Andrew Heaney, RHP Nick Tropeano

Key Losses: C Hank Conger, IF Howie Kendrick, RHP Kevin Jepsen, RHP Jason Grilli

It was a relatively quiet offseason for the Los Angeles Angels. After handing out huge contracts the last three years (Albert Pujols in 2012, Josh Hamilton in 2013, Mike Trout in 2014), the Angels held their spending in check this offseason. With these huge contracts on the books, the Angels looked to reduce their payroll through the trade market. The biggest move the Angels made was trading away their starting second baseman, Howie Kendrick. Granted, they got young, lefty prospect Andrew Heaney in return so it wasn't a complete loss. The Angels also turned to the trade market to acquire their replacement second baseman, Josh Rutledge, and left fielder and designated hitter Matt Joyce.

These new additions supplement a strong offensive core that was the second-best in the American League and a pitching staff that has been wracked by injury. FanGraphs is projecting the Angels to finish with a record of 87-75, the same record as the Mariners. If they can stay healthy, they'll be the Mariners' primary competition for the AL West crown.

Projected Lineup

C Chris Iannetta
1B Albert Pujols
2B Josh Rutledge
3B David Freese
SS Erick Aybar
LF Matt Joyce
CF Mike Trout
RF Kole Calhoun
DH C.J. Cron

While Mike Trout and Albert Pujols get all the headlines as the stars in this lineup, Kole Calhoun quietly amassed 3.6 WAR last year and is projected to be the second-most valuable player on the roster this year. The Angels are still waiting to hear from the Commissioner's Office regarding Josh Hamilton's punishment for violating the substance abuse policy this offseason. His injured shoulder would have held him out of the first few weeks of the season but now the Angels can't count on him for anything this year. Matt Joyce and C.J. Cron will look to pick up the slack but both come with their warts.

Projected Rotation

#1 Jered Weaver
#2 Garret Richards
#3 Matt Shoemaker
#4 C.J. Wilson
#5 Hector Santiago

The Angel's best pitcher, Garret Richards, will start the year on the shelf as he recovers from a gruesome knee injury sustained late last year. That means Jered Weaver will start on Opening Day despite three years of diminishing performances. C.J. Wilson is back after posting his worst year as a starter last year. His control has completely deteriorated -- his Zone% was just 41.7% last year, 9th worst in the majors -- and his walk rate spiked and his strikeout rate dipped as a result. It's not all doom and gloom, as the Angels found a hidden gem in Matt Shoemaker. Mediocre minor league numbers led many to overlook Shoemaker but a shift in his arsenal allowed him to post sparkling numbers down the stretch. He should solidify the middle of the Angel's rotation. The Angels also acquired two young, major-league-ready pitching prospects this offseason, Andrew Heaney and Nick Tropeano. Both of them should see time with the big league club as they fill in while Richards recovers and split time at the back end of the rotation with Hector Santiago.


The Angels should once again find themselves at the top of the AL West standings, only now, the opponent should be different. The Mariners play the Angels 19 times this year, ten times at home and nine times in Los Angeles. The Mariners won 12 of 19 against the Angels last year. If they match that feat this year, it could go a long way toward deciding who the division champ will be.