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Another assessment of next year's team


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KEY (Categories):

1) IMPACT or STAR CALIBER (4+ WAR) | #1-2 STARTER | ELITE RELIEVER 

2) Quality Regular/Strong Platoon Player (2-4 WAR) | #3-4 Starter | Quality reliever 

3) Question Mark (<2 WAR) - mediocre or worse position player | fill-in starter | questionable mid-reliever

The basic idea is that a category 1 is--at the very least--a very good player, either an impact player/borderline star, or a bonafide star or superstar. I'm not differentiating too much, because the point is that these are players who are definitive regulars with no significant question marks and a clear expectation of being a quality, well above average major leaguer. Only the very best relievers would fit into this category.

The second category are either quality regulars or strong platoon players - meaning, players that play more than half of a platoon at a quality level, mid-rotation starters, and quality--and reliable--relievers.

The third category are the question marks: either mediocre or worse regulars, prospects, or players with major concerns; this also includes classic #5-6 "filler" starters, and garden variety mid-relievers. 

This system allows us to look at the team in terms of strengths and weaknesses, and pinpoint areas of concern. Anything not in bold could use upgrading; theoretically a contender would have bold-face (category 1 and 2) players at almost every position, with at least a few category 1 players in the lineup and pitching staff.

 

LINEUP

C. Stassi, Bemboom

1B: Walsh, Pujols, Thaiss

2B: Rengifo, Barreto

SS: FLETCHER

3B: RENDON

LF: Upton

CF: TROUT

RF: Ward, Adell, Marsh

DH: Ohtani

Stassi and Walsh have been revelations, and maybe I'm being too bullish on them but I think they should--at least--be solid regulars or strong platoon players. Ward is more questionable, but I'm also veering towards optimism. We're so used to being disappointed, but the fact is that Walsh and Ward tore up AAA, so we shouldn't be surprised that their hitting is finally coming around. I'm not expecting stardom, but quality performance levels seems plausible, even likely.

ROTATION: 

Bundy, Heaney, Canning, Barria, Ohtani, Sandoval, Suarez.

While the biggest question mark is Ohtani, who could be anything from a true ace to never pitching again, Barria is tentatively joining Bundy as another pleasant surprise. I'm banking on him at least being a good #4, and thus a viable category 2 pitcher. The good news is that depth is emerging; Heaney seems to have found his 2018 form, and Canning seems to be improving bit by bit, giving the Angels four solid mid-rotation starters, possibly five if Sandoval performs as hoped. The bad news is that the Angels still lack a bonafide ace. Even if Ohtani finally actualizes his potential, it likely won't be for more than about 20 starts and 100 IP, and even that seems like a tall order. 

BULLPEN: 

Mayers, Pena, Buttrey, Andriese, Middleton, Bedrosian, Barnes, Robles, Ramirez.

Who knows what to expect. Pena continues to be a solid contributor, and Mayers has pitched extremely well with peripherals that point to continued success, but Buttrey, Middleton, and Robles continue to disappoint, and clearly the bullpen needs some work.

CONCLUSION:

Scanning over the above, there's a lot to be optimistic about. The emergence of Stassi, Walsh and Ward allows the Angels to carry potential weak offense at 2B and possibly RF, which may end up being the only positions in the lineup with below average offense. On the other hand, Rengifo or Barreto could take a step forward, which would make the lineup very strong next year, and Ward could continue his recent performance over a full season--not to mention Marsh and Adell. All of this also allows the Angels to focus whatever funds they have to spend almost entirely on bolstering the pitching staff: 1-2 starters, and 2-3 relievers seem in order.

Even just one more category 2 starter--say, Stroman, Odorizzi, or Gausman--and a couple quality relievers may be enough to push this team over the edge into legitimate contender. But I would expect Eppler (or whoever is GM) to go a bit further. This team is closer than we thought a month ago.

Edited by Angelsjunky
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4 hours ago, Angelsjunky said:

CONCLUSION:

Scanning over the above, there's a lot to be optimistic about. The emergence of Stassi, Walsh and Ward allows the Angels to carry potential weak offense at 2B and possibly RF, which may end up being the only positions in the lineup with below average offense. On the other hand, Rengifo or Barreto could take a step forward, which would make the lineup very strong next year, and Ward could continue his recent performance over a full season--not to mention Marsh and Adell. All of this also allows the Angels to focus whatever funds they have to spend almost entirely on bolstering the pitching staff: 1-2 starters, and 2-3 relievers seem in order.

Even just one more category 2 starter--say, Stroman, Odorizzi, or Gausman--and a couple quality relievers may be enough to push this team over the edge into legitimate contender. But I would expect Eppler (or whoever is GM) to go a bit further. This team is closer than we thought a month ago.

I agree with this, although I realize that it's probably somewhat unrealistic to expect all the breakout performances to carry over into next year and count on it to continue.  Last year, Robles and Buttrey looked like they'd be a dominant combination for us, and this year, well.. not so much, haha.

That said, what I find most encouraging is that there have been a number of improvements as the season has gone on, which is a sign to me that the coaching staff is helping our players make adjustments, and these adjustments seem to be working well.  That's a sign of a good coaching staff, which is what is particularly promising beyond all else.

As for the individuals - I think we can all agree that it's probably unlikely Walsh will continue to be a 1.000+ OPS guy, but if he can be even a 800-900 OPS 1st baseman on a minimum contract, that's a definite win for us.

Stassi - his offensive outbreak has been perhaps the most stunning of all, as his history hasn't suggested he's really capable of it.  I don't really expect his offensive breakout to continue, but if he can just be a decent hitting catcher (750-800 OPS), then combined with his strong defense, we're definitely set at catcher.

Ward, I believe in, in that he posted really good BB/K rates with power in the minors.  Sometimes, it takes guys longer to figure things out.  The power isn't there yet, and it may not ever really manifest as it did in the minors, but I think he'll be a solid utility player that will play a number of games, rotating all around the diamond.

Barria and Canning have both had good seasons and shown improvement as time has gone on.  I think there is reason to be hopeful that both of them can continue their production and be steady starters for us moving forward.

A lot to be happy about.  I think we all agree that we need at least one significant SP signing.  I like the Gausman/Richards suggestion in the other thread, in the sense that it seems reasonable from a cost perspective (an important consideration with Arte), and it gives us one legit SP and a second guy (Richards) who could start, but if not, should make for a really good reliever.

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I agree but I also think it might be a bit bullish. I'd love to see Ward and Walsh perform the same way next year but only time will tell. Was it a breakout year for the both? Or was it a fluke of a stretch?
Either way I'd love to see Walsh push Albert to the curb.
I'd also put Upton and Ohtani in the 3rd category. As of right now, they are both BIG question marks heading into next year. 

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Offensive wise, I think you are right.  While it's a minor stat, team wise it's one I like to use.  Currently, offensively runs scored, the Angels are ranked 7th with 278 runs scored for 2020.  Leader is the Braves at 326.  And only the Yankees (299) and White Sox (283) are ahead of us in the AL.  So the offense seems pretty set.  Upgrade could be made at 2B or SS (with Fletcher moving to whichever).  But if a move is made, it'll probably be an under the radar one.  

Pitching.  We rank 26th.  Starting pitching wise.  Bundy has overperformed.  His numbers are so off his career norms that it wouldn't be surprising if he sees a drop next season.  I'd expect him to be more of a 3-5 pitcher, and that he's pitching like a 1 or even 2 is a bonus but IMO an illusion.  Heaney is also outperforming this season compared to his norm, but not as much of a swing as Bundy.  Probably another 3-5 pitcher.  Barria is still a young kid.  His numbers have been up or down in the minors.  All of which are small sample sizes.  With as young as he is, he's at least a back of the rotation starter, to see what he can do.  #5 pitcher that could go up.  Ohtani.  I believe of any pitcher, he was most affected by the Rona.  Especially coming off of TJ surgery.  Remember that in his rookie year, he was all over the place during spring, then suddenly figured it out during the season.  With him, I believe timing is everything (same with hitting) and he needs that long spring to dial it in, which he didn't get this season.  I think he could be a bounceback candidate next season.  Or they could move him to the pen.  He's definitely a pencil in player.  Canning is still young.  But I wouldn't expect him to be anything but a #5 pitcher.  Other than that, Teheran is the big disappointment that has been so far off his numbers.  He's a FA, but I can't see him back and spending money with what we already have.  The big thing with SP is we need that #1 pitcher.

Relief pitching.  Mayers, stat wise has been way below his career norm.  So hopefully he figured it out, which would be a big plus for us.  Pena is a bit below his career numbers.  So this is probably what to expect of him.  Ramirez is another that is performing a bit below career norms.  So another reliever that is probably where he should be.  Looking at other releivers.  Andriese.  Great WHIP, horrible ERA.  And his WHIP is so far below his career norm.  So he's probably on the outside looking in.  Barnes nothing to see here.  Robles.  You look at the last two years, and there is hope.  You look at this year and the rest of his career, and there isn't.  I don't think you can cut bait on him just yet.  Hopefully a full season will bring him back to 2018-19 numbers.  Bedrosian.  Last 2 years he's been putting up good numbers.  So he's definitely in the picture.  So that would be at least 4 relievers.  Buttrey.  Baseball Reference lists him as our closer.  I think he's more of a back end reliever.  

@Angelsjunky I think you are about right on your assessment.  Although I would go further and say we need a top end elite starting pitcher, a closer, and a solid reliever.  But it doesn't look all that bleak.  

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Again, my sense of Walsh, Ward and Stassi is not that they'll continue their current performance, but that their performances this year indicate legitimate breakthroughs and they'll be solid players next year. My guess is something like .280/.850 for Walsh, .280/.800 for Ward, .250/.750 for Stassi.

@Stradling, you gave me a touch of a broner.

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59 minutes ago, gotbeer said:

Offensive wise, I think you are right.  While it's a minor stat, team wise it's one I like to use.  Currently, offensively runs scored, the Angels are ranked 7th with 278 runs scored for 2020.  Leader is the Braves at 326.  And only the Yankees (299) and White Sox (283) are ahead of us in the AL.  So the offense seems pretty set.  Upgrade could be made at 2B or SS (with Fletcher moving to whichever).  But if a move is made, it'll probably be an under the radar one.  

Pitching.  We rank 26th.  Starting pitching wise.  Bundy has overperformed.  His numbers are so off his career norms that it wouldn't be surprising if he sees a drop next season.  I'd expect him to be more of a 3-5 pitcher, and that he's pitching like a 1 or even 2 is a bonus but IMO an illusion.  Heaney is also outperforming this season compared to his norm, but not as much of a swing as Bundy.  Probably another 3-5 pitcher.  Barria is still a young kid.  His numbers have been up or down in the minors.  All of which are small sample sizes.  With as young as he is, he's at least a back of the rotation starter, to see what he can do.  #5 pitcher that could go up.  Ohtani.  I believe of any pitcher, he was most affected by the Rona.  Especially coming off of TJ surgery.  Remember that in his rookie year, he was all over the place during spring, then suddenly figured it out during the season.  With him, I believe timing is everything (same with hitting) and he needs that long spring to dial it in, which he didn't get this season.  I think he could be a bounceback candidate next season.  Or they could move him to the pen.  He's definitely a pencil in player.  Canning is still young.  But I wouldn't expect him to be anything but a #5 pitcher.  Other than that, Teheran is the big disappointment that has been so far off his numbers.  He's a FA, but I can't see him back and spending money with what we already have.  The big thing with SP is we need that #1 pitcher.

Relief pitching.  Mayers, stat wise has been way below his career norm.  So hopefully he figured it out, which would be a big plus for us.  Pena is a bit below his career numbers.  So this is probably what to expect of him.  Ramirez is another that is performing a bit below career norms.  So another reliever that is probably where he should be.  Looking at other releivers.  Andriese.  Great WHIP, horrible ERA.  And his WHIP is so far below his career norm.  So he's probably on the outside looking in.  Barnes nothing to see here.  Robles.  You look at the last two years, and there is hope.  You look at this year and the rest of his career, and there isn't.  I don't think you can cut bait on him just yet.  Hopefully a full season will bring him back to 2018-19 numbers.  Bedrosian.  Last 2 years he's been putting up good numbers.  So he's definitely in the picture.  So that would be at least 4 relievers.  Buttrey.  Baseball Reference lists him as our closer.  I think he's more of a back end reliever.  

@Angelsjunky I think you are about right on your assessment.  Although I would go further and say we need a top end elite starting pitcher, a closer, and a solid reliever.  But it doesn't look all that bleak.  

For Bundy, I do think it was expected that he'd pitch a bit better coming out of Baltimore for multiple reasons:

1.  The ALE is brutal with tons of great offenses

2.  He was pitching in a hitters' paradise, and also pitching in a division with several significant hitters' parks, too

Coming to the ALW, and pitching in a pitching-friendly stadium, I figured he would improve.  He's probably not quite as good as we have seen, but I think it's reasonable to look at him as a very solid SP3 who will flash SP2 on a good day.  Heaney is somewhat similar, but I think his ceiling is a bit less and he's more firmly an SP3, not so much an SP2.  Ohtani is the big wild card here, but obviously, he has SP1/SP2 potential, if he can get healthy.

As for relievers, I think Mayers could be legit moving forward.  Relievers are very volatile, but as long as they have 1 really solid pitch and a pretty decent 2nd one, there's always a chance for success.  We'll see, though.

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11 hours ago, Angelsjunky said:

KEY (Categories):

1) IMPACT or STAR CALIBER (4+ WAR) | #1-2 STARTER | ELITE RELIEVER 

2) Quality Regular/Strong Platoon Player (2-4 WAR) | #3-4 Starter | Quality reliever 

3) Question Mark (<2 WAR) - mediocre or worse position player | fill-in starter | questionable mid-reliever

The basic idea is that a category 1 is--at the very least--a very good player, either an impact player/borderline star, or a bonafide star or superstar. I'm not differentiating too much, because the point is that these are players who are definitive regulars with no significant question marks and a clear expectation of being a quality, well above average major leaguer. Only the very best relievers would fit into this category.

The second category are either quality regulars or strong platoon players - meaning, players that play more than half of a platoon at a quality level, mid-rotation starters, and quality--and reliable--relievers.

The third category are the question marks: either mediocre or worse regulars, prospects, or players with major concerns; this also includes classic #5-6 "filler" starters, and garden variety mid-relievers. 

This system allows us to look at the team in terms of strengths and weaknesses, and pinpoint areas of concern. Anything not in bold could use upgrading; theoretically a contender would have bold-face (category 1 and 2) players at almost every position, with at least a few category 1 players in the lineup and pitching staff.

 

LINEUP

C. Stassi, Bemboom

1B: Walsh, Pujols, Thaiss

2B: Rengifo, Barreto

SS: FLETCHER

3B: RENDON

LF: Upton

CF: TROUT

RF: Ward, Adell, Marsh

DH: Ohtani

Stassi and Walsh have been revelations, and maybe I'm being too bullish on them but I think they should--at least--be solid regulars or strong platoon players. Ward is more questionable, but I'm also veering towards optimism. We're so used to being disappointed, but the fact is that Walsh and Ward tore up AAA, so we shouldn't be surprised that their hitting is finally coming around. I'm not expecting stardom, but quality performance levels seems plausible, even likely.

ROTATION: 

Bundy, Heaney, Canning, Barria, Ohtani, Sandoval, Suarez.

While the biggest question mark is Ohtani, who could be anything from a true ace to never pitching again, Barria is tentatively joining Bundy as another pleasant surprise. I'm banking on him at least being a good #4, and thus a viable category 2 pitcher. The good news is that depth is emerging; Heaney seems to have found his 2018 form, and Canning seems to be improving bit by bit, giving the Angels four solid mid-rotation starters, possibly five if Sandoval performs as hoped. The bad news is that the Angels still lack a bonafide ace. Even if Ohtani finally actualizes his potential, it likely won't be for more than about 20 starts and 100 IP, and even that seems like a tall order. 

BULLPEN: 

Mayers, Pena, Buttrey, Andriese, Middleton, Bedrosian, Barnes, Robles, Ramirez.

Who knows what to expect. Pena continues to be a solid contributor, and Mayers has pitched extremely well with peripherals that point to continued success, but Buttrey, Middleton, and Robles continue to disappoint, and clearly the bullpen needs some work.

CONCLUSION:y

Scanning over the above, there's a lot to be optimistic about. The emergence of Stassi, Walsh and Ward allows the Angels to carry potential weak offense at 2B and possibly RF, which may end up being the only positions in the lineup with below average offense. On the other hand, Rengifo or Barreto could take a step forward, which would make the lineup very strong next year, and Ward could continue his recent performance over a full season--not to mention Marsh and Adell. All of this also allows the Angels to focus whatever funds they have to spend almost entirely on bolstering the pitching staff: 1-2 starters, and 2-3 relievers seem in order.

Even just one more category 2 starter--say, Stroman, Odorizzi, or Gausman--and a couple quality relievers may be enough to push this team over the edge into legitimate contender. But I would expect Eppler (or whoever is GM) to go a bit further. This team is closer than we thought a month ago.

Pitching still sucks. No better than .500 at best. More likely 71-91. Not 1 pitcher has proven they can command the zone longer than maybe a 2 week hot stretch.

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25 minutes ago, Mark PT said:

Pitching still sucks. No better than .500 at best. More likely 71-91. Not 1 pitcher has proven they can command the zone longer than maybe a 2 week hot stretch.

What?  Bundy, Heaney, Barria and Sandoval are all under 3 walks per 9.  Barria is at a 3/1 k to BB ratio, Bundy is over 4 and Heaney is almost 4.  Bundy, Heaney and Barria are all below a 1.15 WHIP.  We have four guys that are at or under a 4 ERA.  So I get that we need an Ace, to say it still sucks, or to say we would finish 20 games below .500 is probably a stretch.  

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1 hour ago, Stradling said:

What?  Bundy, Heaney, Barria and Sandoval are all under 3 walks per 9.  Barria is at a 3/1 k to BB ratio, Bundy is over 4 and Heaney is almost 4.  Bundy, Heaney and Barria are all below a 1.15 WHIP.  We have four guys that are at or under a 4 ERA.  So I get that we need an Ace, to say it still sucks, or to say we would finish 20 games below .500 is probably a stretch.  

OK, its very average. Maybe i did not define this well. The staff as a hole sucks. Your right the starters are decent but the bullpen is trash. Walks do not tell the whole story. Wins count more and so does performance as a whole. How often do Angels pitchers get out of innings without walking or allowing runners on. That bullpen has 1 guy under 4, Buttrey at 3.75 and they rarely pitch with leads (which also factors into the conversation). There is not one pitcher that can go head-head with any legit #1-2 anywhere in the league. Look, I appreciate your optimism but I really dont think there is much talent on this staff. WHIP is great but does not account for when those walks or hits occur as there is no big performance pitcher on this staff.

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I'd separate #3 into two separate categories.

I think there are players with question marks who *could* perform like a #2 category, but they might not. For example, we've seen both the good and bad versions of Walsh, Upton, and Ward in the past two seasons. They could perform be in the #2 category, but they may perform like a mediocre or worse player. I'd put that as the #3 category and have #4 category be for guys like Pujols, Barreto, Rengifo, and Adell.

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Sandoval (moreso long innings) and Andrese are candidates for solid work in the pen next season, along with Mayers, Pena, and maybe Bedrosian and Ramirez.

Buttrey has a lot of work ahead of him.

Robles, if a drastically reduced salary, should be given one more season to see if he comes to ST in better shape and fans are in the seats.

Edited by Angel Oracle
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1 minute ago, Mark PT said:

OK, its very average. Maybe i did not define this well. The staff as a hole sucks. Your right the starters are decent but the bullpen is trash. Walks do not tell the whole story. Wins count more and so does performance as a whole. How often do Angels pitchers get out of innings without walking or allowing runners on. That bullpen has 1 guy under 4, Buttrey at 3.75 and they rarely pitch with leads (which also factors into the conversation). There is not one pitcher that can go head-head with any legit #1-2 anywhere in the league. Look, I appreciate your optimism but I really dont think there is much talent on this staff. WHIP is great but does not account for when those walks or hits occur as there is no big performance pitcher on this staff.

The WHIP may not account for when those hits happen, but why does that matter if you are trying to predict future performance?   Is a pitcher a worse pitcher if he pitches 6 innings and allows 6 hits in one inning?  Versus giving up a hit an inning for 6 innings?  I don’t think so.  No one is saying the Angels have an Ace. But Bundy this year has pitched like a #1 most of the year.  He has given up 3 runs or less in 8 of 11 starts.  He has given up 8 base runners or less in 9 of 11 starts.  He has averaged 6 innings per start this season, which is just outside of the top 10 in all of baseball.  Basically he has been pretty good this year.  

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35 minutes ago, Stradling said:

The WHIP may not account for when those hits happen, but why does that matter if you are trying to predict future performance?   Is a pitcher a worse pitcher if he pitches 6 innings and allows 6 hits in one inning?  Versus giving up a hit an inning for 6 innings?  I don’t think so.  No one is saying the Angels have an Ace. But Bundy this year has pitched like a #1 most of the year.  He has given up 3 runs or less in 8 of 11 starts.  He has given up 8 base runners or less in 9 of 11 starts.  He has averaged 6 innings per start this season, which is just outside of the top 10 in all of baseball.  Basically he has been pretty good this year.  

I agree. I am not really arguing against your points. I just know that due to lack of consistency in our starters and lack of clutch pitching, these stats are easily skewed due to short sample size (short season). They lack control and command of the zone. All those stats can easily double with this group (I'll concede Bundy this year as he has been good). And the bullpen is another story. I hope you are right in your projections but I am skeptical.  

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1 hour ago, Angel Oracle said:

Sandoval (moreso long innings) and Andrese are candidates for solid work in the pen next season, along with Mayers, Pena, and maybe Bedrosian and Ramirez.

Buttrey has a lot of work ahead of him.

Robles, if a drastically reduced salary, should be given one more season to see if he comes to ST in better shape and fans are in the seats.

I think we certainly have the pieces in place to cobble together a good bullpen.

Mayers, Pena, Andriese, Bedrosian, Ramirez, Sandoval (if not a SP), Buttrey, Robles (if he takes a paycut), Reyes, etc ..

There are a lot of promising arms.  As we have seen with any bullpen, guys will randomly pitch poorly some years and randomly surprise in other years.  It wouldn't surprise me to see both Buttrey and Robles rebound, just it wouldn't surprise me to see Mayers and Pena regress.

That said, Maddon has shown he will seek out the hot hand and use them accordingly, which I do appreciate.  That, IMO, should help us moving forward.

I'm cautiously optimistic that we can put together a pretty solid team next year.  

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