In his second year as general manager of the Los Angeles Angels, Billy Eppler made one major move. That move was no move at all, in fact. Eppler chose to hang on to the best current player in Major League Baseball. Mike Trout is still the star of the Angels lineup. With the additions the club made, the Angels could have the bats necessary to seriously compete in what could be the toughest division in baseball, the American League West.
- Yunel Escobar, 3B
In 2016, Yunel Escobar ended with a .304/.355/.391 slash line and five home runs, over 567 plate appearances. The 34-year-old Cuban is still an on-base threat. While Escobar rarely strikes out, he doesn’t draw a lot of walks either. And walks are what you want from your lead-off hitter. Last season, Escobar only drew 40 of them. The Angels acquired Luis Valbuena, and he could end up taking over more of the hot corner duties. However, Escobar is still somewhat reliable at third, and could potentially handle duties at second base as well. His flexibility keeps him in the lineup.[Blake]
- Kole Calhoun, OF
The Angels extended Kole Calhoun’s contract for three additional years. He’s often the target of trade talks, and it looks like the club isn’t interested in getting rid of him anytime soon. In parts of five seasons with the Angels, Calhoun has hit .266/.328/.436 with the Angels. Calhoun’s play dropped off in the second half of last season, and he revealed he was playing with a sports hernia. He had surgery to repair this injury and should be good to go by Spring Training. Calhoun has speed and a better ability to draw walks than Escobar. He’s one of the best players on this team, and seems to be improving each season.
- Mike Trout, OF
As stated earlier, Mike Trout is the best player currently in Major League Baseball. Period. Discussing the two-time MVP could go on forever. His skills, abilities, and feats are numerous. Last season, he had a slash line of .315/.441/.550. He maintains the highest WAR in baseball, at 9.9. That’s practically ten wins that he alone brings to the table. With 116 walks last season, he’s exceptional at getting on base. With 29 home runs and 173 hits, he’s exceptional at moving runs across home plate. Mike Trout is just plain exceptional.
- Albert Pujols, DH
Albert Pujols will be seeing more and more of the DH position with the Angels. He’s not as feared a hitter as he used to be but still has the ability to be a threat. In 2016, Pujols hit for a .268 average and a .323 on-base percentage. In his 152 games, he had 159 hits and 31 homers. Pujols has had his fair share of injuries in five seasons with the Angels. Most recently, he had off-season foot to help relieve the pain that his plantar fasciitis was causing him. Pujols looks to be on track to start the season but may end up missing the first month or so, to fully recover.
- Cameron Maybin, OF
Injury prone, and likely on the decline, expect to see Cameron Maybin share the field with Ben Revere. Honestly, it’s going to depend on who is healthiest at the time. Despite injuries last season, Maybin maintained a .315/.383./.418 batting line. That was an anomaly. It’s highly unlikely, almost positively unlikely, that Maybin repeats this performance this season. Over his career, he’s spent the majority of time in center, but will be sliding over to left for the Angels. It may take him some time to adjust. Maybin will likely not play more than the 94 games he saw last season.
- C.J. Cron, 1B
Like Escobar, C.J. Cron may see himself fighting for at-bats with newly acquired Luis Valbuena. With Pujols looking to spend most, if not all, of his time at DH for the Angels, first base will be up for grabs between Cron and Valbuena. In 2016, Cron slashed .278/.325/.467 over 116 games. He had 113 hits and 16 home runs. Generally considered a better fielder than hitter, Cron is still reliable at the plate. He offers power potential, despite the Angels having a pitcher friendly park. Last season, Cron had a bit of injury troubles, but will hopefully bounce back as a reliable infielder for the Angels.
- Danny Espinosa, 2B
New to the Angels, Danny Espinosa is a major upgrade defensively. Much like Cron, Espinosa is far more known for his ability on the field, than his ability at the plate. He spent 2016 with the Washington Nationals, Espinosa carried a .970 fielding percentage. He has spent time all over the diamond, mostly at shortstop and second base. With Andrelton Simmons likely to lock down the shortstop role, Espinosa will be calling second base home for the Angels.
- Andrelton Simmons, SS
Andrelton Simmons is one of the most intriguing infielders to watch. He is a star at the shortstop position and could be one of the better players at that position in the game. At the plate, Simmons found himself hitting .281 with a .324 on-base percentage last year. Overall, Simmons has been frequently addressed as someone with “below-average offense and way above-average defense” by several people associated with the game. The back-end of the Angels lineup seems to have several of these types of players. Hopefully, Simmons can do his part to be efficient enough to get runs on the board for the club.[Kenny2]
- Martin Maldonado, C
In yet another platooning situation, Martin Maldonado will more than likely split time with Carlos Perez. It will largely depend on who the hotter hitter is at the time. Maldonado spent the majority of his time with the Milwaukee Brewers as their backup catcher. With a career batting average of .217, he doesn’t add a lot of offense to the team. Since neither Perez or Maldonado are enough to carry the majority of the catching weight during the season, the Maldonado acquisition was key to solving the Angels issue at the position. They avoided going to arbitration with the 30-year-old Puerto Rican, signing him to a one-year deal, worth $1.725 million. A cheap fix to their need of an additional catcher.
Check out other AL West projected lineups here: