Breaking down the LA Angels line-up for 2018

SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA - SEPTEMBER 05: Shohei Otani of Japan bats in the first inning during the match between Japan and Colombia of the U18 Baseball World Championship on September 5, 2012 in Seoul, South Korea. (Photo by Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images)
SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA - SEPTEMBER 05: Shohei Otani of Japan bats in the first inning during the match between Japan and Colombia of the U18 Baseball World Championship on September 5, 2012 in Seoul, South Korea. (Photo by Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images) /
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CHICAGO, IL – SEPTEMBER 26: Albert Pujols
CHICAGO, IL – SEPTEMBER 26: Albert Pujols /

Changing of the Guard at the Clean-Up Spot?

Albert Pujols has been a fixture in the 4th spot for the Angels over most of the past three seasons, but times may be changing in 2018.  Pujols is coming off one of his worst seasons as a professional where he only hit 23 homers (2nd lowest in his career other than injury-plagued 2013 when he hit 17 and he played only 99 games).  Pujols did drive in 101 runs, his OBP of .286 and 93 strikeouts were both the career-worst.

So what are the other options for the clean-up spot?  The most obvious one is newly-signed Shohei Ohtani from the Nippon Ham Fighters of the Japanese Baseball League. Ohtani will most likely replace Pujols at DH around 100 games this season, although Pujols is slated to play first base around 50-60 games this season. So both him and Ohtani could be in the line-up at the same time.

Ohtani has a career average of .286 and a .358 OBP however his RBI totals are low for a clean-up hitter with 67 being the most Ohtani has driven in during a season.  However, he also has never had more than 382 at-bats in a season either so those numbers would surely go up with more at-bats, but that will depend on how much the Angels use him due to his other major talent of being a front-line starting pitcher.

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Another possible option could be either Justin Upton if the Angels decide to put Trout in the third spot and put someone else in the number two hole.  Upton would most likely do very well in either the third or fourth spot in the line-up, but we will have to see how manager Mike Scioscia wants to play things.

A long shot for the clean-up spot could be newcomer Zack Cozart who had a career year in 2017 where he hit .297 with 24 homers and drove in 63 runs. However, that is not a very likely scenario.