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2019: How it all went right


Second Base

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Just an examination on how it all could go right (and wrong in a follow up post). The way this all goes right begins first and foremost with pitching, and that begins with catching. Specifically, Jon Lucroy. The Oakland A's 2017 team ERA before Jon Lucroy arrived, 4.67. The A's team ERA once Lucroy began working with their pitching staff, 3.81. Every pitcher on the Angels staff improves with his guidance. 

1. Matt Harvey rediscovers his "Dark Knight" form. Arrogant, yes. Not the best at making friends, absolutely. But when it's going right and he's healthy, he's among the best in baseball. The velocity spiked to end 2018, and heading into 2019, Matt Harvey is in classic form. 180 innings, 190 K's and. Clean 3.00 ERA.

2. Trevor Cahill reinventing his approach upon moving to the bullpen in Chicago helped him. Last year, Cahill coupled with Lucroy to deliver some impressive results, but it was an injury shortened season. Cahill has been healthy enough throughout his career to know what it takes to stay on the mound for a full 30 starts. 180 innings, 170 K's and a 3.70 ERA.

3. Tyler Skaggs has already pitched like an ace for an extended period of time, and in 2019, he just does it for 10 more starts. 180 innings, 190 K's and a 2.75 ERA.

4. Andrew Heaney is further separated from injury, takes another step forward in his development as a pitcher, and now has a great catcher helping guide him. 180 innings, 180 K's and a 3.50 ERA. 

5 Jaime Barria, we'll make this one simple. Take his FIP from last year, and subtract .80 from it as that's how much the A's improved under Lucroy's tutelage. 150 innings, 120 K's and a 3.70 ERA. 

6. The bullpen. Billy Eppler warned against judging Cody Allen by his ERA and maybe he's right. The velocity was still there, as we the quality off-speed offerings and location. Allen successfully locks down the 9th in stress-free fashion for the Angels, while Robles, Buttrey and Garcia all blow through the middle innings with their own flavor of 95+ velocity. The bullpen gets a big boost mid-season by the returns of JC Ramirez, Key Middleton, and because of the author, you guessed it, Alex Meyer. The Angels will have the hardest throwing, most successful crop of relievers in baseball. 

7. The offense. Lucroy is an improvement over Maldonado. Bour helps supplement Pujols at 1B, and Thaiss breaks into the majors around August, which further improves the offensive output from that position. Luis Rengifo shocks the world and wins 2B outright, and gets on base at a .350 clip in front of Mike Trout. Andrelton Simmons does improve in the power department and makes his first all-star appearance. At third base, Cozart flames out as expected, but the acquisition of Tommy La Stella actually solidifies the position until Taylor Ward develops far enough along that he takes over as the starter for good. Bats .260/.340 with power and speed. Upton is the same as he was last year, and pretty much every year, except now he hits with RISP again. Trout is healthy for a full year, and is even better than he was before, and posts a 12 win season. In RF, Calhoun has the man that fixed his swing keeping a watchful eye on him, and Calhoun ends up hitting .240, but with power and solid enough defense to get the Angels by until Jo Adell proves he's ready, which will happen come August, when the Angels shockingly "fix something that isn't broken" by subbing Calhoun and Adell. They normally wouldn't do this, but Adell is batting .400 in AAA and the Angels amazingly find themselves with a 5 game lead in the West. Shohei Ohtani does what he did last year, but even better, and across close to a full season. The result is an Angels offense that performs near the top of the league. 

8. And one final surprise to finish the season. Shohei Ohtani's recovery from TJ surgery goes better than anticipated. He starts making relief appearances in garbage time in September. Come playoff time, Ohtani not only provides the left handed boost they need in the middle of the lineup, but also makes some key pitching appearances in crunch time. 

9. The Angels win 96 games, and the division by three games and face the Cleveland Indians in the ALDS. The Indians pitchers stifle the Angels 1, and 6-9 hitters, but cannot quiet Trout, Ohtani, Upton and Simmons. The Angels pitchers limit, but can't fully shut down the Indians bats. The series goes a full 5, but is closed out by a dominant performance by Tyler Skaggs, and as a dagger through their heart, Cody Allen striking out the side of his former team. The Angels next see the Yankees in a 2009 ALCS rematch. This series ends quickly as the Angels offense absolutely trounces the Yankees pitchers, and the Yankees big bats come up empty against Harvey in a return performance at NY, and Skaggs official coming out party as a staff ace. SWEEP.

The Angels will face the Philadelphia Phillies in a bit of drama for the 2019 World Championship. Harper signs with the Phils, so it's Trout vs Harper all over again, and with Trout oft connected to Philadelphia, it's seen as a bit of a coming home party for him with the entire town of Millville attending the games. The media absolutely hounds him about his potential future playing in Philly, which drives the Angels fans insnane and irritates Trout to the point where he makes them pay on the field. And Trout doesn't disappoint at all, with one of the greatest offensive clinics ever put on in a series. By game four, the Phillies can do nothing except intentionally walks him, even with the bases loaded and two outs, and the legend only grows from there, The Angels pitchers can' slow down the Phillies offense though, and this one turns into a very high scoring series. Come game 7, the Angels pull out all the stops. Skaggs starts the game, but runs into trouble in the third inning, and Brad Ausmus stunningly turns to Cody Allen to bail him out. Allen returns for a stress-free fourth. But the Phillies offense erupts in the fifth and sixth innings to take a 6-3 lead over the Angels. In the seventh, Ohtani hits a three-run bomb to tie the game.  With a righty on the mound, Ausmus opted to start Calhoun in this pivotal game. In the 8th, Calhoun gets a bloop single and is subbed for Jo Adell. Adell promptly steals second and third base. Adell then shocks the world and tags on a short fly ball to RF with one out, and slides in just under the tag of Realmuto from a strong, yet high throw from Bryce Harper. Angels take a 7-6 lead. With the Angels pitching staff completely exhausted and unreliable due to the onslaught of offense from the Phillies, Brad Ausmus uses his last trick up his sleeve. He brings Shohei Ohtani out of the DH spot to close out the ninth inning. With a fresh arm, and the biggest moment of his life, Ohtani is absolutely juiced and is registering 102-103 on the radar gun. He strikes out the side and the Angels are World Champs. 

10. Mike Trout signs that extension, and remains in an Angel uniform for the rest of his career. He adds World Series MVP to his ever growing mantle of awards. The Angels also sign Skaggs, Ohtani and Simmons to major extensions, and the Angels core is in place to make many more return trips. 

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On a serious note, though, what you describe actually could happen. I'd give it about a 10% chance, but that isn't so bad. The main reason it probably won't happen is not that anything you wrote is outlandish, but that all of it happening is, well, outlandish.

I'd say disaster is about 10% (<75 wins), mediocrity 40% (75-84 wins), performing well is 30% (85-89 wins), and great 20% (90+ wins), with your outcome being the best of that last range.

p.s. In one or two places you bent the truth a little bit, such as Harvey's velocity "spiking" at the end of 2018. It was higher in the second half, but didn't really "spike."

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7 minutes ago, Angelsjunky said:

On a serious note, though, what you describe actually could happen. I'd give it about a 10% chance, but that isn't so bad. The main reason it probably won't happen is not that anything you wrote is outlandish, but that all of it happening is, well, outlandish.

I'd say disaster is about 10% (<75 wins), mediocrity 40% (75-84 wins), performing well is 30% (85-89 wins), and great 20% (90+ wins), with your outcome being the best of that last range.

p.s. In one or two places you bent the truth a little bit, such as Harvey's velocity "spiking" at the end of 2018. It was higher in the second half, but didn't really "spike."

The line between remotely possible and laughable improbable is a thin one to traverse. 

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21 hours ago, Second Base said:

Good fan fiction, right?

Your pitching predictions are that.

I doubt any post and ERA under 3.25 with more close to 4 to 4.25. But, this would be a huge improvement over the last two years if the group all produce 180+ innings at that level. 

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15 minutes ago, Blarg said:

Your pitching predictions are that.

I doubt any post and ERA under 3.25 with more close to 4 to 4.25. But, this would be a huge improvement over the last two years if the group all produce 180+ innings at that level. 

I could see Skaggs pitching to a 3.25.  I could also see Heaney getting over 180 innings again and be around 3.50-3.75.  

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The path to winning the division is likely going to take 95 wins (or more).  

Based on the projections from FG, they currently have us at 40 WAR and we would need about 50 to get to that season win total.  

So how do we get there?  

C - 2.7 WAR projected.  I think that's about spot on.  Gonna be tough to get above that
1b - 1.1 WAR projected.  An area where we can make up some ground.  Bour needs to have a good season and get us at least 2.0 WAR.  Overall, +1 WAR
2b - 2.2 WAR projected.  I think that's pretty much on the mark.  
SS - 4.5 WAR projected.  Simmons has been about a win better than projected over the last two years.  I think he can give us that again.  +1 WAR.
3b - 2.9 WAR projected.  Pretty close.  I am actually worried we don't reach that more than I think we have a chance to overachieve.  Maybe Ward takes off.  
LF - 2.5 WAR projected.  I think Upton will get us a win better than his 2.5 WAR estimate.  He was at 3.1 and that doesn't include the negative impact of his poor hitting with RISP.  My guess is that he'll be closer to 4 WAR but lets give him +1 WAR overall.  
CF - 9.3 WAR projected.  Yep.  has to be or else we're hosed anyway.  
RF - 2.1 WAR projected.  I'm gonna leave this as is for a cushion even though I think Kole will be around 3.0 WAR.  
DH - 3.0 WAR projected.  Same as RF.  I think we'll do better, but trying to stay conservative, I'll call it even.  

Overall for the offense, I'll go with a +3.  I think we'll have one of the top offenses in baseball this year.  

SP - 8.6 WAR projected.  The wild card.  I think each of Cahill, Harvey, Skaggs and Heaney could all outproduce their projections by a win apiece.  Staying on the conservative side, I'll give then an extra 3 wins.  I also think the combo of Barria, Pena and other will give more than half a win but I'll leave it be.  +3 wins overall.  +6 so far with lineup and SP

RP - 1.4 WAR projected.  I think this is where the team is being vastly underestimated.  By as much as 3 wins.  It will put us in the top 10 or so.  I think one of two things will happen.  The SP will perform better than expected (above what I mentioned), and he pen won't be needed as much but the wins will be made up on the SP side or the SP will need the help, and the pen depth will step up big time.  +3 wins.  

In total, I think we've got a legit shot at 93-94 wins without everything going right.  Granted, that's also without a lot going greatly wrong.  

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