Los Angeles Angels 2012 Preview

Projected Record: 93-69

Player WAR Player WAR
C Chris Iannetta 3 SP1 Jered Weaver 5
1B Albert Pujols 6.6 SP2 Dan Haren 5
2B Howie Kendrick 3.6 SP3 CJ Wilson 4.1
SS Erick Aybar 3.1 SP4 Ervin Santana 2.7
3B Alberto Callaspo 2.9 SP5 Jerome Williams 0.9
LF Vernon Wells 1.1 CP Jordan Walden 1.3
CF Peter Bourjos 3.2 RP Scott Downs 1
RF Torii Hunter 2.3 RP LaTroy Hawkins 0.5
DH Kendrys Morales 2.5 RP Hisanori Takahashi 0.5
Bench Mark Trumbo 1.6 RP Rich Thompson 0.3
Bench Bobby Abreu 0.7 RP Bobby Cassevah 0.3
Bench Bobby Wilson 0.1 RP Trevor Bell 0.2
Bench Maicer Izturis 1.6 Brad Mills 0.3
Bench Mike Trout 1.4 Jason Isringhausen 0
Hank Conger 0.3
Jorge Cantu 0
34 22.1

Signing Albert Pujols and CJ Wilson, along with replacing Jeff Mathis with someone who can hit better than a small asian woman improves the Angels chances drastically for 2012. Unluckily for them, I still think Texas will win the AL West, but they do have a good enough team to compete for a Wild Card or win the division if Texas disappoints.

The Pujols deal may become a bit of a burden in 5 years or so, but in 2012 Albert Pujols should rebound from his slightly down year and be once again one of the top first basemen in the league. He replaces Mark Trumbo at first, who is reportedly practicing at third, but I’m doubtful as to how much he’ll play there. He’s more likely to share the DH slot with Kendrys Morales and Bobby Abreu. I think the Angels still may try to move one of them, likely Abreu, before the season in return for a starting pitcher, but they may have to wait until after the season starts to get the type of return they’re looking for. Morales’ production is a question after missing most of the last two seasons to a freak injury. He had turned into a pretty productive hitter prior to that, so if he can return to form he’ll have some value. Abreu’s getting old and has lost most of his power. He still walks at an above average rate, but the Angels have better options. Howie Kendrick, who had a career year last year, will play 2nd, but he’s unlikely to be quite as productive in 2012. A lot of his value came from his great defensive ratings, which could be a bit of an outlier. Erick Aybar at short and Alberto Callaspo at third are both above average with the bat and the glove, and will round out a very solid infield. The Angels brought in Chris Iannetta to be their starting catcher, and he’s been productive when healthy. Hank Conger or Bobby Wilson will be his backup, and could get a fair amount of playing time due to Iannetta’s previous health issues.

The Angels in the outfield (!) will be Vernon Wells, Peter Bourjos and Torii Hunter at least to start the year. Wells can’t be as bad this year as he was last year, and has alternated good and bad seasons over the last several years, so I think he’ll improve marginally. Bourjos impressed last year in his first full season in the majors, with great defense in center and a little bit of pop. He may decline slightly, but should still be well above average. Torii Hunter isn’t what he once was in the field, even in right, but still provides enough with the bat to be productive. The big question with the Angels is how much Mike Trout, ranked by some as the best prospect in baseball, will play in 2012. He’s only 20, so he’s likely to at least start in the minors, but he also doesn’t really have a place to play with the Angels’ glut of outfielders and DHs. Los Angeles also has some decent bench players, besides Trumbo, Morales, and Abreu, they also have Maicer Izturis, who was a two win player last year.

The Angels have a very solid top four in their rotation, perhaps the best in baseball. Jered Weaver, Dan Haren and Ervin Santana will be joined by free agent acquisition CJ Wilson and probably Jerome Williams. Weaver and Haren were worth 12 wins combined last year, which I think they will have a hard time repeating, but they should still be worth approximately 10 wins together. Santana outperformed his peripherals last year, so he may see a bit of a decline, and Wilson may regress a little bit as well. Williams is the real weak spot, which is why I think the Angels will try to trade for another starter.

Jordan Walden and Scott Downs will pitch the late innings, and both are pretty good relievers. LaTroy Hawkins, Hisanori Takahashi, Rich Thompson and Bobby Cassevah will likely hold down spots in the bullpen as well, and are all potentially average or better. Minor league signing Jason Isringhausen could make the team as well, but he doesn’t project to be that valuable any longer. Combined, the Angels bullpen should continue to be a strength in 2012.

The Angels, while currently a bit behind the Rangers, have some tradeable assets which they could use to upgrade the team. If they can get a good starting pitcher for Abreu, Morales, or Trumbo they could jump ahead of the Rangers and win the division.

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