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2019 AL West Preview: Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, California, USA Overview

Mickey’s Team

MVP Troy Glaus and Manager Mike Scioscia of the Anaheim Angels Photo by Donald Miralle/Getty Images

Leading up to the season, we are previewing all the other teams in the AL West to examine where each club was this past year, who they currently have on their team, and where they are going, next year and into the 2021 window where the Mariners expect to be competing. So far we’ve covered the Texas teams; this week we move on to the California teams, starting with the Mike Trout Trouts of Troutington, Troutifornia. Also Mike Trout.

Last year the Angels were largely heralded as one of the winners (if not the winner) of the 2018 off-season. Capturing Japanese two-way sensation Shohei Ohtani seemed to pilot the Angels solidly towards a postseason berth way back in the darkest days of December, especially as they added seemingly solid veterans like serviceable-but-fragile Zack Cozart and personal-favorite-of-John-Trupin Ian Kinsler (NB: psych) to the fold.

The Angels became the poster children for why winning the off-season is meaningless as they bumbled to an 80-82 season. The two-way Japanese phenom required TJ surgery, and the crop of aging veterans and an inexplicably terrible Kole Calhoun again failed to prop up the greatest player of our generation. Let’s see how the Angels have addressed their offensive shortcomings in 2019:

Angels Projected Lineup 2019

Position Name PECOTA (WARP) ZiPS (fWAR)
Position Name PECOTA (WARP) ZiPS (fWAR)
C Jonathan Lucroy 0.1 0.7
1B Justin Bour 0.9 0.7
2B David Flecher 0.5 1.3
3B Zack Cozart 0.9 2.4
SS Andrelton Simmons 3.1 4.5
LF Justin Upton 4.2 2.3
CF Mike Trout 8.4 8.8
RF Kole Calhoun 1.8 1.5
DH Shohei Ohtani 1.7 2.9
? Albert Pujols 0.7 0

At first glance, it seems like the Angels are mostly going to be treading water in 2019, waiting for Ohtani to return to full health. He’ll still bat and most projection systems like his outlook for the season. The Angels have also put a rush job on top prospect Jo Adell, skipping him from A ball clear up to Double-A in 2018, although he’ll be slowed this season by a pair of injuries that will keep him out about two months. MLB Pipeline’s fourth-ranked LAA prospect Jahmai Jones is also majors-adjacent, but he’s transitioning over to second base from the outfield, theoretically to take the place of the light-hitting David Fletcher.

The Angels have a lot of money tied up in just a few contracts, although even at 33 million a year, Trout’s contract looks like a steal for two more years of Literally Mike Trout. On the other end of the spectrum is the contract of Albert Pujols, who is set to earn 28, 29, and then 30 million before the Angels are finally free in 2022. Justin Upton’s contract also escalates from 18 million in 2019 all the way to 28 million in 2022, and his prediction is the one PECOTA and ZiPS are furthest apart on. Calhoun will probably find himself the odd man out in order to make space for Adell, as the Angels can simply buy him out for a million in 2020. If he looks more like the player he was at the end of 2018 than at the beginning, Calhoun is a candidate to be moved at the trade deadline.

Barring a few breakout performances and a speedy return to health for Adell, the 2019 Angels will probably look similar to the 2018 Angels: Mike Trout will do Mike Trout things, and his teammates will botch those things up in sitcom-like fashion. Much like the Mariners, the Angels have reinvested in building a strong farm system, acquired a top Japanese talent in free agency, and seem content to let their northern neighbors the Athletics tackle the scourge of the indomitable Astros. This half of the AL West might be dormant now, but as the Mariners charge into the 2020s intent on breaking the longest playoff drought in professional sports, and the Angels attempt to prove to the best player in baseball that they have a sustainable plan to return to glory and he should stick with them, expect to see some titanic clashes ahead.