Do the LA Angels have what it takes to make 2017 a productive season?

Apr 3, 2017; Oakland, CA, USA; Los Angeles Angels center fielder Mike Trout (27) and designated hitter Albert Pujols (5) celebrate at home plate Oakland Athletics during the third inning at Oakland Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Neville E. Guard-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 3, 2017; Oakland, CA, USA; Los Angeles Angels center fielder Mike Trout (27) and designated hitter Albert Pujols (5) celebrate at home plate Oakland Athletics during the third inning at Oakland Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Neville E. Guard-USA TODAY Sports /
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Are the LA Angels playing a lost season in 2017? What bright spots are there and what will make 2017 productive for the team?

As noted recently by fellow Halos Hangout contributor Joshua Lea, Vegas has the LA Angels projected at 77 wins for the 2017 season. If those predictions hold true, will another season of no playoffs lead to this season being a total loss? Furthermore, would it lead to another off season filled with “Are the Angels wasting another year of Mike Trout’s prime” articles?

Like any good baseball fanatic, I want my team to go 162-0 and sweep their way to the World Series. However, in a sport where hitting the ball safely 30% of the time can make you a superstar rich beyond your wildest dreams, I know my team might lose a few games.

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When I also know that my team has two of its young pitchers of the future out until next year, in addition to another (Richards) trying to avoid the same fate, while still another (Skaggs) is trying to fully recover from the same process the first two are currently in the midst of, I arrive at the conclusion that I have to allow my fanaticism to take a few sips from the cup of realism.

As a result of the above, if  the Angels miss the playoffs in 2017, what will need to have happened to make it a worthwhile season?

Garrett Richards pitches and stays healthy for the entire season. Productivity is important, but right now, health is equally as important for the Angels and Richards.

C.J. Cron gets a chance to show what he can do over a full season, and then shows he can produce something at or above .270-20-85.

Tyler Skaggs needs to hit the same spots as Richards, showing that his surgically repaired elbow is ready to play. As the centerpiece of the trade that sent away 2016’s MLB home run champ, Mark Trumbo, Skaggs’ time has arrived.

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Left field is NOT the black hole that it has been the past two seasons for the Angels. While many teams have a position that performs less, in 2016, no Angels left fielder hit above .235. Furthermore, collectively they did not post a OBP above .300, and they hit fewer than 5 home runs, all together. That’s not acceptable production from a glove-first catcher, let alone a position that the Angels division rivals all had far superior production. Most noteworthy, the Rangers late season acquisition, Carlos Gomez alone out performed Angels left fielders in just 30 games with the Texas club.

Finally come up with a longterm solution at third base. As covered here, Kaleb Cowart is again, not looking like the answer, Kyle Kubitza was released last year, Yunel Escobar will be 35 and is a free agent, and none of the Angels top 30 prospects project are 3B. Free agency it is then, which we will discuss later on.