LA Angels: 8 players who need to improve for Halos to contend

LA Angels (Photo by John McCoy/Getty Images)
LA Angels (Photo by John McCoy/Getty Images) /

Here are areas where eight of the LA Angels’ best players need to get better in 2020.

Justin Upton needs to be healthier

The main cause for concern for the LA Angels’ Justin Upton is that he needs to stay healthy and have a positive mindset for the start of the season. Last season, Upton missed most spring training with tendinitis in his right knee and a sprained toe. He then missed finishing the regular season with patellar tendinitis, which really limited his offensive output; he only was able to finish batting to a .215 average, 12 home runs, and .724 OPS in only 219 at-bats.

In the past Upton has been able to put up many outstanding performances and I’m sure he is going to want to get back to that if he wants to live up the extension he signed with the Angels. There have been some reports that label Upton’s contract as bad and could be potentially offered up in a bad contract swap with another team, however, I don’t believe that will happen as Billy Eppler hasn’t made any moves that would prompt this move.

I strongly believe that if injury doesn’t continue to plague Upton, then he would be able to figure out his swing and struggles and get back to having success.

Brian Goodwin needs to improve at the plate

Brian Goodwin is an interesting case as he can prove valuable to the team in certain situations as his numbers aren’t crazy, but their not too bad either. He stands at being only a filler as the up and coming Jo Adell is looking to make an impact on the club at the start of the regular season. It seems clear that the Angels may want to groom Adell into being their All-Star right fielder and having Goodwin on the team relives some pressure on Adell needing to have a monster rookie season.

While his overall numbers aren’t too impressive (a .262 average, 17 home-runs, and .796 OPS), the one number that might have some redeeming quality is that he has a OPS+ of 109, which is slightly above average (100). Even still if Goodwin wants to improve this season he needs to just improve his numbers overall and understand that he’s being used to help groom the huge prospect in Adell.

I could still see him coming up in big situations where the Angels may need him to just get on base or drive someone in from second, but the reality is that he may not be seeing playing time for long.

Anthony Rendon needs to be more consistent

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Working our way into the infield let’s start with one of the Angels’ newest and biggest additions in Anthony Rendon. There isn’t a lot that Rendon needs to improve considering he’s one of the best third-basemen in the game. The Angels certainly paid him like it, inking a brand new 7-year $245 million deal during the offseason.

The one thing that I would like for him to do is just be consistent and live up to the contract itself, the Angels have had a bad recent history with long-term contracts and their hoping this one pays off. He adds must-needed protection behind Trout and solves the Angels’ long time hole at third base, assuming he stays healthy, which is another thing that I am hoping for him.

It’s definitely going to exciting to see him on the field in an Angels uniform and I am hoping that he continues to put up incredible numbers in Anaheim.

Andrelton Simmons needs to improve his offensive production

Moving over to who I believe is one of the best shortstops in the game in Andrelton Simmons. Simmons is coming into the final year of his contract with the Angels as his offensive numbers haven’t been too pretty, however, what he’s mostly known for is his All-Star caliber defense.

He’s won five gold gloves overall and three with the Angels, his fielding percentage has been above average every season he has been in the league adding to the case why he may be the best defensively. However, recently his offense has taken a slight step back as he batted to a .264 average, .309 OBP, and 80 OPS+.

In his two seasons prior, he has shown better averages and offensive numbers overall, so the biggest thing that he needs improving on is his overall offensive production and maintain being the best in the league at fielding his position. If his offensive numbers improve next season and his defensive capabilities remain the same, I believe he will get offered an extension by the Angels.

Tommy La Stella needs to get back to 100 percent

In his first season as an Angel, Tommy La Stella was absolutely incredible and was a nice surprise to many fans, as he was performing well enough to get him an All-Star nod before going down on a terrible injury. He fouled off a pitch and the ball when into his shin, forcing him to get carried off the field because of the pain and missed a majority of  the second half of the season.

The Angels certainly missed the production he had given them during the first half of the season, finishing with a .295 batting average, 16 home runs, and 44 RBI, just imagine what numbers he could’ve put up for the full season. Which is why the main goal for him should be to just get back to being 100 percent and getting ready to go for next season, which I am anticipating a good season from him.

Unfortunately, freak accidents like the one La Stella went through happen all the time in baseball, and it was certainly disappointing watching going down like that, but if he remains healthy he could be a key contributor to the Angels’ success.

Albert Pujols needs to come through in the clutch

When his career over, Albert Pujols will be going into the Hall of Fame based on his amazing accomplishments. However, we’re looking at what he can improve on going into next season and right now the Angels will take anything he can give them.

Age is certainly showing on Pujols and last season was a year to forget, as he finished batting to a .244 average, .305 OBP, 94 OPS+ and 23 home runs. Pujols is definitely a smart hitter and I really don’t think that is going to go away, so my biggest suggestion for improvement is to come through in more clutch situations. There is still value in Pujols even at his age and I think the Angels will look into every way on how to utilize him and while he may not be what he once was, there is a chance he can still be a hero in some circumstances in Anaheim.

Jason Castro needs to get acquainted with the pitching staff

Moving to behind the plate, Jason Castro is the one the newest additions in the offseason the Angels picked up in hopes of adding catching depth. The Angels were in sort of a desperate need of adding a catcher after releasing Kevan Smith, which Castro was possibly the only option left in the off-season.

His offensive numbers aren’t too impressive as nothing stands out from a .231 batting average, .313 OBP, .390 slugging average, his defensive numbers are what the Angels were clearly looking at more having a .999 fielding percentage last season, 637 putouts, and seven outs recorded from runners caught stealing.

He will share playing time with Max Stassi as Stassi has one of the highest pitch framing stats in the league which will definitely factor in to the pitching staff which any help the staff gets will be good. The biggest thing that Castro needs to worry about is getting acquainted with the pitching staff and teammates as well as improving his defensive capabilities which is one of the main reasons the Angels got him.

David Fletcher needs to be more selective

Now we can’t finish up this talk without mentioning someone who is going to be moving around a lot during the season because of a crowded field, which is of course fan favorite David Fletcher. Angels manager Joe Maddon will have a good problem to have in that Fletcher is versatile, meaning he can play multiple positions without compromising too much in both the offensive and defensive categories.

His offensive numbers improved overall from the 2018 to the 2019 season, and he should look to continue his success on the field as long as he’s healthy, which hasn’t been an issue for him. The one thing that stands out as a negative might be his OPS+ which is just below league average coming in at 97, so there is one area he might consider improving on just by being more selective at the plate. This is a very minor weakness that can possibly be overlooked just because of all the other offensive stats he excels at.