Angels have high expectations for 2020, despite the predictions

first_imgFOR OPTIMISTS1. A powerful offenseMike 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 bullpenAlthough 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 rotationOhtani 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 PESSIMISTS1. Rotation question marksJulio 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 downsSimmons 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 toughThe 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.Related Articles Angels’ poor pitching spoils an Albert Pujols milestone Angels’ Shohei Ohtani spending downtime working in outfield Angels offense breaks out to split doubleheader with Astros Jose Suarez’s rocky start sinks Angels in loss to Astros Most analysts figure the Angels to be around a .500 team, which normally wouldn’t be quite good enough to make the playoffs but this season could get them a spot in the newly announced 16-team field.“Anything MLB wants to do in regards to making it more interesting right now I’ll take it,” Manager Joe Maddon said a day before the new playoff format was official. “Obviously it enhances your chances as a club to get involved.”Still, though, Maddon isn’t figuring on the Angels to be mediocre and sneak into the playoff field.“Our goal is to win the division,” he said earlier this week. “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 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? Angels’ Mike Trout working on his defense, thanks to Twitter Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Errorlast_img read more