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LA Angels: Who Is Going to Hit Leadoff Ahead of Mike Trout?

By Vincent Page
ANAHEIM, CA - SEPTEMBER 16: Kole Calhoun #56 of the Los Angeles Angels hits a homerun in the 7th inning against the Seattle Mariners at Angel Stadium on September 16, 2018 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Kent Horner/Getty Images)
ANAHEIM, CA - SEPTEMBER 16: Kole Calhoun #56 of the Los Angeles Angels hits a homerun in the 7th inning against the Seattle Mariners at Angel Stadium on September 16, 2018 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Kent Horner/Getty Images) /
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The LA Angels lineup in 2019 is going to be an improved version of 2018’s. With players returning from injury and hoping for bounce back, who is going to lead off for the team in 2019?

The LA Angels and new manager Brad Ausmus seem committed to Mike Trout as the second hitter in their everyday lineup, and for good reason. The #2 hitter has RBI chances and has more value on the base paths than a third or fourth hitter in the lineup.

However, the Angels and Ausmus seem to have no idea who will be at the top of their lineup card each day. Luckily, that is not because they have so few options, but actually the opposite. The Angels have three obvious options for their leadoff hitter, but there are a couple wild card choices as well.

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The first and most obvious is David Fletcher. Last season, did a great job of getting on base and is a solid threat when on base. And while his overall numbers were respectable, his hitting numbers dropped drastically when he was hitting first in the game. While it was a small sample size (only 62 at-bats), Fletcher hit much better when he hit lower in the order.

Another candidate is Zack Cozart, who only played 58 games before missing the rest of the season recovering from shoulder surgery. He was disappointing in that time, hitting only .218 after a breakout 2017 season. Cozart is the likely starter at third base to start the 2019 season, and, as long as he is healthy, his on-base abilities will keep him in the conversation to hit leadoff, where he did see improved numbers last season.

Another obvious option is Kole Calhoun. However, as we know Calhoun had the worst season of his career last season, and that was despite a second half where he was one of the best hitter in the league. His numbers were much better when he was hitting leadoff as well, hitting 13 of his 19 home runs as a leadoff hitter. Depending on what type of Calhoun we see in 2019, he could very well be the best or worst option to hit in front of Trout.

Outside of that trio, one dark horse could be Shohei Ohtani, who possess speed, contact, and power when hitting. While he won’t be healthy to start the season, none of the aforementioned options have the ability Ohtani does. The only counter to Ohtani hitting leadoff is that he may be suited better in the #3 spot, while the trio above flourished more so hitting leadoff. However, any pitcher would sweat a little at the thought of facing Ohtani and Trout to start a game.

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Overall, we will likely see a handful of people start games at the plate for the LA Angels. It will be one of the biggest questions going through Spring Training, especially in regards to Cozart’s health and Calhoun’s comeback. One thing is for certain, though, and that is that whoever does hit lead off, Mike Trout will drive them in plenty.

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