Will LA Angels be able to turn it around in 2017 season?

; Los Angeles Angels center fielder Mike Trout (27) makes a running catch at the wall. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
; Los Angeles Angels center fielder Mike Trout (27) makes a running catch at the wall. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports /

The LA Angels are glad that 2016 is behind them.  It was the worst finish in Mike Scioscia’s 16 year tenure with the club as the Angels finished in fourth place with a record of 74-88.  The big question is will 2017 be better than 2016?

The LA Angels had many reasons that the 2016 season was so dreadful.  First and foremost was a bevy of injuries that destroyed a once promising pitching staff.  Inconsistency from a few key spots also did not help. Finally, Lady Luck didn’t seem to be on the Angels side until well after they were already out of contention in 2016.

So can the Angels find a way to rebound from 2016? That is the million dollar question many fans want to know the answer too.  The Angels have made some moves this off-season in hopes of fixing what went wrong last season.  Two of the most glaring holes have been addressed with off season moves.

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The Angels biggest weakness over the past two seasons has been left field.  So the Angels went out and traded for outfielder Cameron Maybin.  Maybin has been an every day outfielder in both left field and center field and could very well be the same for the Angels.  Maybin has a very good glove and above average arm.  In addition he has been a decent hitter with some power so him hitting .270 with 10 homers and 60 RBI’s is not much of a stretch.  He also has good speed and has potential to be a lead-off hitter if the Angels decided to go that route instead of relying on Yunel Escobar to be their lead-off hitter.

The Angels decided to get some insurance in left field as they also signed Ben Revere last week.  Revere is also a good defender with great speed.  He could also serve as a part-time lead-off hitter as well because he has great speed and could get on base at a decent clip as he is a career .285 hitter as well.  So with that said the Angels could also do a lefty-righty platoon in left field as well with Maybin hitting from the right side and Revere from the left side.  Add in Jefry Marte to the left field mix and this position is definitely no longer a position of weakness.

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The other glaring weakness last season was second base which the Angels made a move to strengthen as well.  The Angels acquired Danny Espinosa from the Washington Nationals who will be an upgrade defensively for sure from former second baseman Johnny Giavotella.  Espinosa also adds some pop to the Angels line-up with 24 homers and drove in 72 runs.  The drawbacks on Espinosa is that he does not hit for a high average finishing 2016 with a .209 batting average.  Espinosa also struck out 174 times which could end up being an issue. However, second base is not a glaring weakness anymore with Espinosa on the roster.

The catchers spot was the other weakness last season, however the Angels have not done much this off-season to address this position.  Carlos Perez again will start the year as the starting catcher.  Perez is great defensively, but his offense is lacking.  Perez hit only .209 last season with five homers and 31 runs batted in. The Angels also acquired Martin Maldonado to be Perez’s back-up.  Maldonado is a defensive guru throwing out 57% of would be base stealers in 2016, however he is not an offensive juggernaut. Maldonado hit .202 batting average with eight homers with 21 runs batted in.  So I think that this position is about the same as last season.

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Finally a major issue last season is the pitching.  The starting rotation will not be much different from the end of last season.  Garrett Richards, Tyler Skaggs, Matt Shoemaker, and Ricky Nolasco all made at least five starts last season and were pretty effective and things would have been a lot better if they all would have been healthy.  Richards, Skaggs, and Shoemaker all missed more than month due to injuries in 2016.  If they are healthy and Nolasco pitches the way he did the last six weeks of the season the starting staff will be much better in 2017.

The only question mark will be who will be the fifth starter in 2017.  Alex Meyer has the inside track as he held that role down the stretch since he was acquired from the Twins.  The Angels also acquired Jesse Chavez who could be used as a fifth starter if Meyer is not quite ready for the role.  So the starting staff will be much improved if all the members stay healthy.

Finally the bullpen which was a major issue as well should be much stronger.  The Angels will start the season with possibly three closers anchoring down the 7th, 8th, and 9th innings. Huston Street and Cam Bedrosian both held the closer role last season and hopefully they will both be healthy.  They also now have another closer Andrew Bailey on their staff as he filled in during September as the team’s closer and was a perfect six for six in save opportunities.

In addition they can also use Mike Morin and J.C. Ramirez in the pen as well and possibly prospect Keynan Middleton who skyrocketed through the Angels minor league system with his 95 MPH plus fastball.  So if everything goes well and people stay healthy, the bullpen will be much improved as well in 2017.

All in all with the moves the Angels made this off-season and pitchers coming back healthy the 2017 Angels should be much improved from their 2016 counterparts.  The biggest key will be the health of team.  The Angels finished 74-88 in 2016 and with all the injuries to the pitching staff as well as the few holes they had in their line-up the Angels could have contended last season.

Next: What happened to Jefry Marte?

So my prediction for the Angels in a 90-72 record and a wildcard spot which will put them back in the playoffs for only the second time in the past eight seasons.  We will just have to wait to see if everything works out in 2017.