The LA Angels had many things that derailed their pursuit of a playoff berth in 2018. Besides the obvious and reoccurring pitching staff injuries, the Angels offense was suspect in 2018 as well.
So this off-season LA Angels general manager Billy Eppler went out seeking some upgrades that would help the Angels improve upon their .242 team batting average, which ranked 20th overall. Eppler went out and signed Justin Bour and also Jonathan Lucroy to solidify first base and catcher. The Angels also added Peter Boujos to be a potential fourth outfielder as well.
With all of this being said the question now becomes, what will the Angels opening day line-up look like at this moment if they do not make any more moves this off-season on the offensive side. Let’s take a look at what we could see next season.
There are a couple of option for the Angels lead-off spot in 2019. One of them is Zack Cozart who filled that role at times last season when Ian Kinsler was either injured or struggling. Cozart has some power and also had a decent OBP in 2017 of .385. Overall in his career Cozart has a .310 OBP which is not great, but he could be the best option.
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Another option could be David Fletcher. Fletcher was utilized in this role at times late in the season and with him being the favorite to win the second base job, he could be a good fit. While Fletcher does not have the power that Cozart has, he gets on base at a higher rate and possesses good speed.
A wild-card for this spot is Andrelton Simmons. Simmons has had two very solid seasons at the plate and could be the perfect combination of power, speed, and a good batting average. Taking Simmons out of the bottom half of the order though will severely weaken that part of the line-up so this will probably not happen.
The Second Spot is only one at the moment
The number two spot in the line-up is pretty much set as Brad Ausmus would like a Mike Trout to hit in this role this season. Trout is a guy you could put anywhere in the line-up and he will do well. Trout can hit for power, average, get on base, and drive in runs. He will do more driving in runs at the third or fourth spot, but he can also set things up for Justin Upton, Justin Bour, and eventually Shohei Ohtani.
This spot will hopefully be one the Justin Upton will excel in this season. Upton saw a drop-off in production somewhat in 2018 as he only drove in 85 runs and hit .257 compared to the 109 runs and .273 batting average he had in 2017. If Upton could hit 30 plus homers and drive in 100 plus runs with around a .270!batting average it would boost the Angels line-up greatly.
This role could be filled by a few players in 2019 depending on who is the most productive. Shohei Ohtani is the player the Angels would most like in this role this season. Ohtani has tremendous power, good speed and is able to get on base at a good clip as well. However, until he returns from the DL the Angels will have to explore other options.
Most likely either Justin Bour or Albert Pujols will fill the void until Ohtani is healthy. It will probably depend on whether a lefty or righty is on the mound as to who will hit fourth. If it is a right-handed pitcher is on the mound Bour will probably be in the this spot provided he is productive. If it is a lefty on the mound Bour may drop down to the sixth spot and Pujols and Andrelton Simmons will fill the 4th and 5th spot.
This spot will be changing the most along with the 6th spot throughout the season. One reason for this is the aforementioned Shohei Ohtani injury. Before Ohtani returns Justin Bour, Albert Pujols, and Andrelton Simmons will most likely hold down the fort in the 5 hole depending on the pitching matchup. If there is a lefty-handed starting pitcher Andrelton Simmons will most likely occupy this spot as Justin Bour will probably move down to the 6th spot.
If a right-hander starts then Bour will probably be in the clean-up spot and Pujols in the 5 hole or vice versa and Simmons will fill in the 6th spot in the line-up. Kole Calhoun could see some time here as well if his hitting is solid.
When Ohtani returns he will probably occupy the clean-up spot against righties and possibly even some lefties as well. When this happens Pujols and Bour will platoon at first base and most likely be in the five hole.
Andrelton Simmons will assume this spot much of the time unless manager Brad Ausmus decides to switch him to the 5th slot. Simmons could even possibly be shuffled somewhere in the top 2 spots in the batting order if he continues to hit like he has the past two seasons. Kole Calhoun, Shohei Ohtani, or Bour could also see time in the 6 hole.
Right fielder Kole Calhoun will probably be a regular fixture in the 7th spot depending on how well he is hitting. There is a chance that Calhoun could move up or down depending on his performance at the plate. Jonathan Lucroy or David Fletcher may both see time here as well. This again will depend on how well some of the other players will do this season.
This is another one of those spots that could be changing frequently due to match-ups and players performance. Right now it could be David Fletcher or Jonathan Lucroy or even Taylor Ward at times. This will depend on whom the Angels decide to keep on the roster at the start of the season and who is hitting the best.
Right now it could be any of the aforementioned candidates. We will see how things pan out as the season goes along. Jonathan Lucroy may be the first one to get a shot at it this season. We will see how everything goes early on in the season.
Hopefully this gives you a good idea of what to look for in the line-up. This isn’t set in stone by any means. Only time will tell.