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OC Register: Angels have high expectations for 2020, despite the predictions


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For months, fans of the Angels and all major league teams simply wanted some kind of baseball season.

That season, which at times seemed like it may not happen, is finally here. And although the buildup to this season has been like no other, in some ways it’s now perfectly normal.

Questions about the coronavirus will not go away, but now right alongside them are all the usual questions.

Will the Angels have enough pitching? Will they avoid injuries? Will they finally get back to the playoffs, putting Mike Trout onto the sport’s biggest stage?

Most analysts figure the Angels to be around a .500 team, which means they are good enough to challenge for the playoffs but would be underdogs to get there.

Manager Joe Maddon has higher expectations, though.

“Our goal is to win the division,” Maddon said. “There’s a possibility, a strong possibility we are going to get to the playoffs. We’re not just going to show up and be fodder for somebody else. We’re here to win. I like our group a lot, not just a little bit.”

With that in mind, here are three reasons to be optimistic about the Angels, along with three reasons to be concerned.

FOR OPTIMISTS

1. A powerful offense

Mike Trout and Anthony Rendon are two of just six players in the majors to have produced at least 4.5 WAR in each of the last three years, according to Baseball-Reference. That’s as good a 1-2 punch as any team in the majors. They’ll have Shohei Ohtani and Justin Upton with them in the middle of the order. Surround them with David Fletcher, Tommy La Stella, Andrelton Simmons and maybe Jo Adell, and the Angels should have no trouble scoring runs.

2. A deep bullpen

Although it’s fair to say that no team can be really confident in how its bullpen will perform over a 60-game sprint of a season, the Angels have reason to believe theirs will be solid. Hansel Robles had a breakout year as a closer last year, and Ty Buttrey and Keynan Middleton have both shown closer stuff throughout their young big league careers. If they perform as expected, and even two of the others — Cam Bedrosian? Jacob Barnes? Ryan Buchter? — are average major league relievers, they can cover a lot of innings and hold a lot of leads.

3. Young blood in the rotation

Ohtani and Griffin Canning weren’t going to be in the rotation at the start of the season as scheduled, but the delay allows both to start the season healthy. Each has about half a season as a big league starter under his belt. Ohtani in 2018 was better than Canning in 2019, but both showed the ability to be pitch in the front half of a rotation.

FOR PESSIMISTS

1. Rotation question marks

Julio Teheran is the only one of the starters who has had multiple full seasons as even an average big league starter, and he’s starting the season on the injured list after testing positive for the coronavirus. Although Ohtani and Canning have potential, Ohtani is coming off Tommy John surgery and Canning had recent elbow issues. Dylan Bundy has never lived up to his potential and Andrew Heaney has struggled with injuries and inconsistency.

2. Offensive ups and downs

Simmons and Upton are both coming off disappointing offensive seasons, with injuries largely to blame. The Angels are planning on both bouncing back, but Simmons is 30 and Upton is 32, so even if they’re healthy they may not be as good at the plate as hoped. Tommy La Stella and Brian Goodwin both had career years, so it remains to be seen if they can repeat them.

3. The competition is tough

The Houston Astros won 107 games last year. The Oakland A’s won 97. The Dodgers won 106. Those three teams will make up nearly half of the Angels’ schedule. They’ll play the Astros and A’s 10 times apiece and the Dodgers six times. The teams in the AL Central will have a softer schedules, and the Angels will be competing with them for the wild card.

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1 hour ago, AngelsWin.com said:

For months, fans of the Angels and all major league teams simply wanted some kind of baseball season.

That season, which at times seemed like it may not happen, is finally here. And although the buildup to this season has been like no other, in some ways it’s now perfectly normal.

Questions about the coronavirus will not go away, but now right alongside them are all the usual questions.

Will the Angels have enough pitching? Will they avoid injuries? Will they finally get back to the playoffs, putting Mike Trout onto the sport’s biggest stage?

Most analysts figure the Angels to be around a .500 team, which means they are good enough to challenge for the playoffs but would be underdogs to get there.

Manager Joe Maddon has higher expectations, though.

“Our goal is to win the division,” Maddon said. “There’s a possibility, a strong possibility we are going to get to the playoffs. We’re not just going to show up and be fodder for somebody else. We’re here to win. I like our group a lot, not just a little bit.”

With that in mind, here are three reasons to be optimistic about the Angels, along with three reasons to be concerned.

FOR OPTIMISTS

1. A powerful offense

Mike Trout and Anthony Rendon are two of just six players in the majors to have produced at least 4.5 WAR in each of the last three years, according to Baseball-Reference. That’s as good a 1-2 punch as any team in the majors. They’ll have Shohei Ohtani and Justin Upton with them in the middle of the order. Surround them with David Fletcher, Tommy La Stella, Andrelton Simmons and maybe Jo Adell, and the Angels should have no trouble scoring runs.

2. A deep bullpen

Although it’s fair to say that no team can be really confident in how its bullpen will perform over a 60-game sprint of a season, the Angels have reason to believe theirs will be solid. Hansel Robles had a breakout year as a closer last year, and Ty Buttrey and Keynan Middleton have both shown closer stuff throughout their young big league careers. If they perform as expected, and even two of the others — Cam Bedrosian? Jacob Barnes? Ryan Buchter? — are average major league relievers, they can cover a lot of innings and hold a lot of leads.

3. Young blood in the rotation

Ohtani and Griffin Canning weren’t going to be in the rotation at the start of the season as scheduled, but the delay allows both to start the season healthy. Each has about half a season as a big league starter under his belt. Ohtani in 2018 was better than Canning in 2019, but both showed the ability to be pitch in the front half of a rotation.

FOR PESSIMISTS

1. Rotation question marks

Julio Teheran is the only one of the starters who has had multiple full seasons as even an average big league starter, and he’s starting the season on the injured list after testing positive for the coronavirus. Although Ohtani and Canning have potential, Ohtani is coming off Tommy John surgery and Canning had recent elbow issues. Dylan Bundy has never lived up to his potential and Andrew Heaney has struggled with injuries and inconsistency.

2. Offensive ups and downs

Simmons and Upton are both coming off disappointing offensive seasons, with injuries largely to blame. The Angels are planning on both bouncing back, but Simmons is 30 and Upton is 32, so even if they’re healthy they may not be as good at the plate as hoped. Tommy La Stella and Brian Goodwin both had career years, so it remains to be seen if they can repeat them.

3. The competition is tough

The Houston Astros won 107 games last year. The Oakland A’s won 97. The Dodgers won 106. Those three teams will make up nearly half of the Angels’ schedule. They’ll play the Astros and A’s 10 times apiece and the Dodgers six times. The teams in the AL Central will have a softer schedules, and the Angels will be competing with them for the wild card.

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With no ace, 2 possible number 2s (both can easily be 3s), and 3 4-5s. This pitching staff can be better but will they?

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we're not getting much love from ESPN tonight -- did not even mention the ANGELS in pre-game discussions about the top contenders.

I think the Angels club looks pretty good -- once again pitching will be a weakness from starters to the pen.

Stripling starts for the Dodgers this weekend -- I still think Arte should have been more patient and not pulled the plug/ pulled back that deal for Stripling and Joe Peterson. Who did we give up in that deal? LaStella? I thought it was a good deal for us - especially getting Strpling -- but that's all water under the bridge.

with the expanded playoff format - I think the Angels are IN this thing,.  But we can't get off to a bad start as we have done before (but not the last year ),.

as for any one else did you think the ESPN coverage was a bit below par tonight (to put it mildly) - I know it was a tough assignment for EPSN with everything going on -- but GEEZ -- the coverage and game broadcasts tonight seemed  really weak to me,

I ended up listing to most of the SF Giants / Dodgers game on mlb.com Audio feed listening to the SF Giants broadcast - they were broadcasting the game remotely from the SF Giants ballpark while the game was being played at Dodger Stadium, The Giants broadcast (radio) team is really good  (Dave Flemming and Jon Miller),. They need to be because the SF Giants under Kapler (what a terrible hire that was) are going to be rebuilding this year and it even the short season will seem long.

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I think its interesting how many times I see that the Astros, A's, and Dodgers who all had great records make up almost 1/2 of the schedule.

They never talk about the flip side.

Rangers: 78-84 

Mariners: 68-94

Rockies: 71-91

Padres: 70-92

Giants 77-85

D'Backs 85-77

We have 30 games against teams with better than 85 wins. We have 26 of those with teams with higher than 97 wins. We have 31 games against teams with lower than 78 wins. 17 of those have less than 71. 

If they went say 14-12 against the Dodgers, A's and Astros. (3-3 Against Dodgers, 11-9 Against A's and Astros combined), Win a majority of the 17 games against the middle teams with records from 77-85 to 85-77 say 11-6 (6-4 Against the Rangers, 4-0 Giants, 2-1 D'Backs), and then cleaned up against the Padres, Rockies and Mariners, Say 12-5 (7-3 vs. Mariners, 2-1 Rockies, 3-1 Padres) that would equate to a 37 win season.

Even if we went12-14 in the Games against the three playoff teams on our schedule from 2019, and beat up the teams with the mediocre records, they still could go 34 or 35 wins.

 

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Angels record was terrible in 2019 due mainly I think to pitching injuries and terrible management. They won just 5 of 19 against the cheating Astros, and 6 of 19 against the A's. What's hidden in those numbers is in the last 6 weeks, they were 3-12 against those teams. They'd given up by that point.

So in the first half of the season, they were 8-15, which is still bad.

In 2018 though, with a competent manager, They managed to win the season series against the A's at 10-9, but still lost to the Astros at 6-13.

But Again, the Astros records are completely tainted by the cheating scandal. They were 7-12 in 2017.

 

They've had trouble with the Astros since they switched leagues, though. They must split or win the series against them in 2020 for them to have a legit shot at the division.

 

 

 

 

 

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