With spring training officially coming to an end and the season’s start date being postponed by at least two weeks due to COVID-19, it’s now time to breakdown the Angels lineup.
This season, whenever it starts, will feature many familiar faces returning with a few big additions rounding out what should be a competitive Angels roster.
New manager Joe Maddon returns to the Angels after being away for more than 20 years, dating back to the 1999 season where he held the reigns for 29 games finishing (19-10) as a replacement for manager Terry Collins following his firing.
Maddon is tasked with turning around a team that finished last season with a (72-90) record, where it was 35 games back and had one of the worst pitching staffs in all of baseball — combining for a 5.12 ERA.
Only two of the Angels starting pitchers hit five wins last season.
One was the late Tyler Skaggs who was having a solid season before his unexpected death. The other was rookie Griffin Canning, who picked up his fifth win in his last start of the season before being shut down with 36 games left in the season due to an elbow injury.
That injury is still nagging him today.
If the Angels are to compete this year it will require an impressive season from newcomers Julio Teheran and Dylan Bundy. Bundy impressed in spring training where he held a 1.59 ERA through 11.1 innings of work, giving up just four hits and two runs.
Fans were vocal in asking general manager Billy Eppler to invest in the top starting pitchers available during this year's free agency — notably Gerrit Cole and Stephan Strasburg. The Angels instead went with World Series-winning third baseman Anthony Rendon, formerly of the Washington Nationals.
Rendon came out of spring training hot, batting .353 and a .979 OPS, striking out just once in 17 at bats.
Mike Trout and Rendon are expected to be the team’s cornerstones as they will likely find themselves in a two-man race for American League MVP honors.
One worrying concern in spring training had been Shohei Ohtani’s abysmal .105 batting average, and his 11 strikeouts in 19 at bats this spring. Ohtani has been experimenting with a leg kick once again this spring, similar to his debut with the Angels in 2018 where he also showcased underwhelming statistics.
Prospect Jo Adell, just 20 years old, hasn’t had a bad spring by any means hitting .280, however his 13 strikeouts in 25 at bats will need to change, and he still hasn’t managed to work a walk.
A stint in triple A will do nothing but help Adell who can take the time to work on his vision and discipline before coming up to the big leagues.
The lineup should also see a close contest for who makes the opening day roster on the bench.
Players like center fielder Michael Hermosillo and second basemen Arismendy Alcantara have had very positive springs while veterans of the roster like Matt Thaiss and Brian Goodwin should be locks to start in the MLB.
If the team performs at the levels they are capable of and the new additions to the pitching staff go the extra mile giving the team as many innings as possible, then the Angels have a serious chance to be a real contender.
Hitting wise, this is the best lineup the Angels have assembled in recent memory and should offer Trout the added protection necessary for him to produce.
Expected opening day lineup:
C: Jason Castro
1B: Albert Pujols
2B: David Fletcher
SS: Andrelton Simmons
3B: Anthony Rendon
LF: Justin Upton
CF: Mike Trout
RF: Brian Goodwin
DH: Shohei Ohtani
Tommy La Stella