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Los Angeles Angels 2019 Fantasy Projections – It's Not a Heavenly Outlook for the Halos
When you have a man on your roster who many consider to be the consensus best player in all of baseball, your team is worthy of keeping an eye on. The LA Angels of Anaheim, for those who appreciate completeness, are such a team.
However, in spite of all his talent, Mike Trout and his Angels have only had one winning season over the past three. Sure, they've hovered right around .500 each of the past two years, but mediocre baseball has not been what this team is accustomed to.
Los Angeles Angels 2018 Recap
The Los Angeles Angels stormed out of the gate in 2018, winning 13 out of their first 16 games. There was talk around baseball that a very talented team was finally ready to live up to expectations. Besides, they had the most talented player in the game.
However, by the end of April LA was back to only four games over .500 and three games behind the Astros in the AL West. May and June saw them slide another game closer to 50/50 baseball each of those months, and they watched the gap between themselves and the top of the division balloon to 11½ games.
By the final day of the regular season their deficit doubled, and they finished two games below .500. Underachieving was again the whisper across Southern California. Team offense and pitching ranks in the middle of the pack led to a final place in the overall standings at about the same spot, the middle.
2019 Fantasy Pitchers Projections – The Best of the Halo Staff
LA's pitching numbers weren't too horrible, but they weren't that good either. Every one of their top three pitchers in the rotation had records hovering around the .500 mark. That's probably not an ironic statistic for a team that went 80-82.
The problem with those types of past performances is that they are hard to trust from a fantasy standpoint. In addition, the best ERA of the trio was a pitcher slated to work out of the number five hole in 2019. Jaime Barria is only in his second year, so there are a number of questions about his actual talent.
His WHIP is average at best, and he is not going to strikeout a ton of hitters. That leaves the Angels number one and two starters as about the only worthy fantasy propositions. However, neither has proven a big game winner on the big stage, yet.
Andrew Heaney SP – To call Heaney an injury risk would be an understatement. 2018 was the first time he has thrown more than 150 innings in his four-year, full-time career in LA. There were flashes of promise last season, however. Heaney fanned a batter per inning and his walk rate remained characteristically low.
He gave up fewer hits than innings pitched, so his WHIP would tend to indicate potential for success. The problem hasn't been keeping runners off base as much as it's been keeping the ones that do get on from scoring.
Tyler Skaggs SP – Skaggs has been another injury riddle. In 2018, he tossed the most innings of his career. Hits and strikeouts per inning cancel out one another, and he displayed serviceable control.
Like Heaney, Skaggs problem was limiting the untimely scoring of runs. A 4.02 ERA isn't terrible from a fantasy perspective, but many of his runs took him out of contention for earning a victory in the game. Again, 8-10 with a few Ks isn't the worst fantasy output, but neither of these Angel hurlers are more than a backend of the rotation option until they prove otherwise.
2019 Fantasy Hitter Projections – The Best Bats in Anaheim
About in line with their overall performance on the field, after Mike Trout the Angels fantasy appeal is the same. A few viable options depending on their performance, but mostly second-tier fantasy players' best suited for a bench role.
Of course, that didn't include the lofty expectations the baseball world put on the new Angel in LA, Shohei Ohtani. Unfortunately, Ohtani could not escape the Tommy John knife, so he will be a non-factor in 2019. His unique set of talents does have him worthy of an available DL spot in dynasty formats.
Albert Pujols is now viable in name only. Pujols managed only 117 games in 2018, his lowest number since an injury-riddle second season in Los Angeles. His batting average is now a detriment, and his home run total was his second lowest since that same 2013, 99 game season.
Kole Calhoun will hit leadoff, but he is far from a prototype leadoff man. Jonathan Lucroy has moved to the City of Angels, and might be a second-tier attempt to fill the catcher spot on a fantasy roster. That leaves two hitters, and only two hitters, who are viable for a fantasy batting order.
Mike Trout OF – Trout is the consensus top player in fantasy baseball. He is five-tool superstar who is an obvious superstar. If there are any negative points to consider when discussing Trout, it is his recent drop in reliable durability.
After missing no more than five games during a four-year stretch, nagging injuries have reduced his stolen a little playing time. From a point during his four year healthy streak where he pushed 600 plate appearances each year, he hasn't stepped into the box 500 times the past two.
But, when talking statistical performance, he has not missed a beat. Trout is a consistent .300 hitter who will chase the 40 home run mark every year he's healthy. He steals bases, plus draws walks at productive rate. This year he'll hit second in the AL order, followed by Justin Upton.
Justin Upton OF - Upton's numbers may be as important to how Trout produces as he does. At 31, Upton is no longer a youthful player. However, a consistent 30-plus home run threat, if he can produce numbers close to his career average, he'll force pitchers to pitch to Trout.
The collective production of these two hitters at the top of the LA Angel's batting order will be highly instrumental in how successful LA is as an offense. If Upton falters, LA will either have to adjust the order, or pitchers will avoid Trout in order to get to Upton. They will be followed by a shell of himself Pujols, and probably whomever LA decides is the DH du jour.
Fantasy Rank for the LA Angels
When you trot the best player in fantasy baseball out to centerfield nearly every day, you're going to have worth in the hitter department. However, when his performance may hinge on the production of aging players around him, expectations must be tempered. In addition, pitching ranks are based on potential and performance, and LA falls to average in both areas.
The Bottom Line for the Halos
Sports have witnessed aging stars seemingly find the fountain of youth and play at a level once reserved for their youth. Even Mike Trout is adding on years as each new season begins. For the Angels to be competitive in a very competitive AL West, three or more of their players are going to have to rediscover that youthful exuberance. If not, they don't have the pitching to keep them in contention much past the midseason all-star break.