MADISON, March 13, 2014 — Over the next few weeks this column will unveil MLB Power Rankings starting with the weakest team and working towards the strongest. Today the process continues by looking at number 12, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.
2013 Record: 78-84 with a -4 run differential.
Key Additions: OF Raul Ibanez, OF Brennan Boesch, 3B David Freese, LHP Tyler Skaggs and LHP Hector Santiago
Key Losses: OF Peter Bourjos and OF Mark Trumbo
Projected 2014 Lineup:
OF Kole Calhoun
OF Mike Trout
1B Albert Pujols
OF Josh Hamilton
3B David Freese
DH Raul Ibanez
2B Howie Kendrick
C Chris Iannetta
SS Erick Aybar
Projected 2014 Rotation:
Best Case: Mike Trout does Mike Trout things. Not content with the best seasons ever by a 20-year-old and 21-year-old, Trout posts the best season ever by a 22-year-old. Even better for Angel fans, the club locks him into a contract of at least six years. Albert Pujols bounces back to a level that is not quite peak Albert, but similar to his 2011 version boosting the middle of the order. While he continues to swing and miss at the highest clip in baseball, Hamilton sees his BABIP tick up into the .330 range and provides value teaming with Pujols to boost the Angels run total. Lefties Tyler Skaggs and Hector Santiago stabilize the back of the Angels rotation getting their runs allowed back into the high 600s. The team justifies owner Arte Moreno’s spending spree and wins the AL West.
Worst Case: Essentially running back last year’s season. Pujols and Hamilton continue their decline as Hamilton continues to chase bad pitches limiting his production and Pujols shows that plantar faciitis wasn’t his only problem as age continues to catch up to him. While Tyler Skaggs and Hector Santiago provide league average production the impact is muted by the fact that Jered Weaver spends much of the season hampered by injuries. Mike Trout still does Mike Trout things and finally wins the MVP, but the Angels fail to work out an extension and he is one year closer to free agency. Trout also sets a new standard in arbitration after being awarded $16 million. Ernesto Frieri struggles with command in the closer role causing chaos in the bullpen. The Angels limp to a fourth place finish in the AL West ahead of only the Astros.
Prospect Watch: The system lacks top of the line pitching prospects which forced the Angels to trade 3B/OF Mark Trumbo to fill a couple of holes in the rotation. The system does have some hitting prospects led by 2B Taylor Lindsey. Lindsey spent last year in AA where he posted a .274/.339/.441 line, but his path to the majors is blocked by Howie Kendrick whose contract runs through 2015. While there are very few 1B prospects in the minor leagues, for a variety of reasons, the Angels have one in CJ Cron. Cron also spent the year in AA where he posted a .274/.319/.428 line, but with Pujols with the Angels he need to break in to the club as a DH or be used as a trade to find time in the majors. Rounding out the hitting prospects at AA is 3B Kaleb Cowart. Cowart was considered the club’s top prospect entering last year but struggled at AA posting a .221/.279/.301 line.