While the LA Angels definitely have room to make a trade for starting pitching help, it seems as though the climax of their offseason has come and gone.
And while the LA Angels need for starting pitching exists, don’t let that distract you from the fact that the Halos are amongst one of the most improved teams this offseason, and have some legitimate potential going into 2020.
If you need more convincing, look no further than FanGraphs’ 2020 Depth Chart Projections. This is essentially a collection of every player’s projected WAR in 2020 combined to see which teams have the most talent at each position. It’s one of the most highly regarded projection systems, and it projects the Angels as one of the best teams going into 2020.
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As the current roster stands, FanGraph’s projects the Angels as the 7th best team going into 2020 with 42.5 WAR. The only teams standing in front of them are the Astros (54.7), Yankees (51.3), Dodgers (50), Red Sox (47.5), Rays (44.1), and Mets (40.9).
What’s even more interesting is the teams directly behind the Angels. The five teams following the Halos are Cleveland, Oakland, Washington, Minnesota, and Atlanta. Four of those five teams were playoff teams, while Cleveland was right on the cusp. While that might be shocking, the Angels objectively got better while all five of those teams have arguably gotten worse this offseason.
The Angels’ seventh ranked team is extremely one-sided, as one would expect. Their position players ranked second in the entire MLB with a projected 29.7 WAR, tied with the Red Sox and Dodgers and falling short of the Astros mark of 34.2 WAR. The projections for each Angels position are as follows:
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The one mark here that surprised me was the catcher position being so valuable. A 3.2 projection for Max Stassi and Anthony Bemboom is obviously due to the defense they provide, and this number could go up if the Angels pick up a veteran catcher in free agency.
While the offense is given high marks, the rotation is looking rough. While they add a healthy Shohei Ohtani, Dylan Bundy, and Julio Teheran, they are still just the 23rd ranked rotation in baseball with a projected 10.7 WAR. That’s a big improvement over last season, but it’s obvious there’s room for big improvement in the pitching department for the Angels.
The bullpen projects as sixth-worst in the MLB, which is where I’d have to disagree with the projections. This was a phenomenal group in 2019 until they were forced to be overworked and declined in the second half of 2019. A full season of Keynan Middleton will only give this group a boost.
While all of these projections are nice, they don’t include one thing. Injuries have derailed season after season in Anaheim, and projections rarely take into account how often a player will be available.
But if the Angels can stay relatively healthy in 2020, they can be a legitimate contender for a playoff spot, especially behind one of the best coaching staffs in the MLB. Their group of young pitchers is respected in these projections, and if one of Griffin Canning, Patrick Sandoval, or Jaime Barria can truly break out, it could be a playoff year in Anaheim.