Angels 2023 Opening Day roster predictions: Starting lineup (8 +Ohtani)
Taylor Ward, Mike Trout, Anthony Rendon, Hunter Renfroe, Jared Walsh, Brandon Drury, Gio Urshela, Max Stassi
The top seven of this lineup remain unchanged, but for the first time in these roster projections, I have changes in the starting lineup.
Gio Urshela has looked much better at shortstop than I anticipated, and I feel more comfortable with him starting games at that position now. Originally I had David Fletcher starting at short because of his defense, but his bat is the worst by far of every shortstop candidate. Urshela is arguably the best hitter of the three options, and with me being more comfortable with his glove I think he should be there. He'll bat anywhere from 6-8 if he is, the Walsh, Drury, Urshela trio is pretty interchangeable in my eyes.
Now for the moment you've all been waiting for, I do have Max Stassi as the catcher with Matt Thaiss. alongside him. This means Logan O'Hoppe will begin the year in AAA. I have Stassi listed as the starter because I believe he'd get the Opening Day nod but believe there will be a timeshare, at least until one does more than the other offensively or defensively.
I don't agree with this decision, as I'm extremely high on O'Hoppe's bat and think his glove has been solid as well. It's just what I think the Angels will do.
Like Davidson, Thaiss is out of options. As much as they want to say they'll take the best 26, it doesn't always make sense to do that. They won't want to lose Thaiss for nothing, and with a nice spring, Thaiss would likely get claimed off of waivers.
They'll have O'Hoppe begin the year in AAA to get more experience and come up if/when they need a punch offensively. While Thaiss has performed well in the spring, I'm not a believer in him being anything more than a backup catcher. The Angels won't want to give up on him, so I believe he's going to be on the roster.