The LA Angels, along with the rest of the MLB, were given their over/under’s for win totals going into the 2019 season last week.
For the LA Angels, they were given an O/U of 83.5. So, at least in Vegas, the idea is that the Angels will improve on their 80-82 record from 2018. In this article, we’ll discuss everything that could possibly go into the Angels’ win total, and whether or not the over or under is the smart bet for 2019.
First, we need to look at the key additions and losses for the Angels this offseason.
The Case for the Over
So, as you can see above, the Angels’ additions this offseason far outweigh the players they lost. While the Angels didn’t make a splash signing for one of the big free agents (after many failed attempts), Billy Eppler and Co. did a solid job filling in gaps this offseason. While some fans will complain about every deal being for only one year, that story is for a different article.
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In terms of just 2019, the Angels improved vastly. Matt Harvey and Trevor Cahill, along with veteran Jonathan Lucroy guiding the rotation from behind the plate, will help the rotation perform as a group. As a whole, the rotation is better than last year, and there is ample depth within the organization. If either Tyler Skaggs and Andrew Heaney can become the ace the Angels need (my money is on Skaggs), the group of Harvey, Cahill, and Jaime Barria would be amongst the best in the AL.
Their bullpen is likely a solid unit in 2019, but has a ton of upside from players like Luke Bard, who has the potential to be an elite reliever in the MLB. Cody Allen gives them a proven closer, while the return of Keynan Middleton sometime midseason will give them another boost.
As for the offense, the Angels did an excellent job filling holes this offseason. They are making a shift to a more analytical philosophy under Brad Ausmus, and with the signing of Bour they’ll be able to platoon first base between him and Albert Pujols.
Tommy La Stella is also one of the best reserve players in baseball, and can play nearly any position on the diamond.
The Case for the Under
Now, to play devils advocate, there is a case for the under as well. The Angels do still have to play the Astros, who they never perform great against. Seattle and Oakland aren’t bad teams either, with the race for second place in the division likely coming down to the A’s and Angels.
While one could look at the signings as a great way of filling in holes, the team had role players last year who let them down consistently. And while platooning is a great idea in theory, it has to be done right in order to be effective.
Their rotation still lacks an ace, and if Skaggs doesn’t improve his consistency, one could make the argument the rotation is just a group of mid-rotation arms. The same goes for their bullpen, which lost its two best relievers in Parker and Alvarez. While Luis Garcia has the tools to be an elite reliever, the production hasn’t been there so far in his career.
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The offense saw some improvement this offseason, especially with players like Zack Cozart getting healthy. However, Cozart regressed plenty from his breakout 2017 season, and it is unclear how much he can be relied on. One could argue this offense, outside of Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani, is still a below average unit.
And finally, if course, there are injury concerns. While the Angels have more depth this year than in 2018, they still have a good amount of players with injury concerns. Even Mike Trout has missed time due to injury the past two years, and an aging Pujols isn’t a strong bet to finish the season, or be productive throughout at least.
There are major concerns with this team, even in the bullpen where Billy Eppler has taken some risks to create what he hopes is an elite bullpen.
As I wrote this piece, it was much easier to make a case for the over than the under. The Angels are an improved club, and while it’s hard to document how much a coaching staff dictates wins and losses, the Angels have made serious upgrades this offseason. Players are already noticing it in Spring Training.
That gives the edge to the over, in my opinion. Maybe I’m just an eternal optimist when it comes to sports, but this team is built better than any other club in recent Angels’ history. With rotation concerns in Houston, this team might even have an outside, long shot, low percentage, one-in-a-million chance of winning the AL West this year if it all comes together.
However, that is extremely unlikely. But when it comes to the over/under on the Angels season, it is a strong choice and good money to bet the over on this one.