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Tuesday, April 9, 2024

Angels 2024 season preview: Projected lineup, rotation and Mike Trout’s future with out Shohei Ohtani

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You will have missed this headline over the winter because it wasn’t a well-covered story, however Shohei Ohtani is not a member of the Los Angeles Angels. He is off to greener pastures, having signed an historic free-agent contract with the Dodgers. Within the course of, an already dangerous Angels group has misplaced its greatest hitter and pitcher. 

Is there any likelihood of salvation for these fallen Angels? Or are they caught in purgatory, condemned to taking part in out the string till Mike Trout has had sufficient and asks out? For solutions on these questions and extra, let’s take inventory of the 2024 Angels.

Win whole projection, odds

  • 2023 document: 73-89 (fourth place in AL West)
  • 2024 SportsLine projection: 72.5 wins
  • World Sequence odds (by way of SportsLine): +18000

Projected lineup

  1. RF Mickey Moniak
  2. 1B Nolan Schanuel
  3. CF Mike Trout
  4. LF Taylor Ward
  5. 3B Anthony Rendon
  6. DH Brandon Drury
  7. C Logan O’Hoppe
  8. 2B Luis Rengifo
  9. SS Zach Neto

Regardless of the aforementioned lack of Ohtani, the Angels did not add a lot in the best way of lineup reinforcements. Veterans Aaron Hicks and Ehire Adrianza will function the largest additions, and each may start the season on the bench. In any other case, this might’ve been an Angels lineup from final yr.

Projected rotation

  1. LHP Reid Detmers
  2. RHP Griffin Canning
  3. LHP Patrick Sandoval
  4. LHP Tyler Anderson
  5. RHP Chase Silseth

The Angels rotation ranked nineteenth in ERA final season. Nonetheless, they returned 5 of their six most-used starters. The exception being … properly, you already know. 

Projected bullpen

  • Nearer: RHP Carlos Estévez
  • Setup: RHP Robert Stephenson, LHP Matt Moore
  • Center: RHP José Soriano, RHP Luis García, RHP José Cisnero  
  • Lengthy:  LHP José Suarez

The Angels poured extra sources into their bullpen than both their lineup or their rotation. They signed Stephenson, Moore, and Cisnero for greater than $40 million mixed.

Can younger core emerge?

Of everybody on this Angels roster, there are three gamers particularly who’ve the utmost significance to their long-term aspirations: first baseman Nolan Schanuel, shortstop Zach Neto, and catcher Logan O’Hoppe. Every is 24 or youthful and are comparatively new additions to the group: Schanuel and Neto had been their most up-to-date first-round picks, whereas O’Hoppe was the return for Brandon Marsh

How that trio develops in 2024 will go a great distance in figuring out if the Angels have any shot at returning to relevancy over the following few years. Let’s spotlight what you’ll want to learn about every of them.

  • We coated Schanuel in better element lately. There is no denying that he has spectacular contact and on-base chops — significantly for somebody who went from taking part in at FAU to taking part in in MLB in a couple of months’ time — however his lack of energy does concern us given his restricted positional worth. To cite ourselves: “Schanuel’s common exit velocity was 85 mph and he maxed out at 103.5 mph — the latter measure is arguably extra essential on this case, the place the query is not about consistency however, slightly, the flexibility to hit the ball laborious in any respect. For reference, Tony Kemp had the bottom max EV within the majors final season, at 103 mph.” We might prefer to see extra feats of power from Schanuel this season earlier than declaring that he’ll be a long-term fixture for the Angels.
  • As with Schanuel, there is no want to evaluate Neto too harshly given the circumstances. He had fewer than 50 video games of minor-league expertise earlier than the Angels promoted him to The Present as a part of a failed playoff push. Neto did OK inside that context, posting an 86 OPS+ and grading as an above-average defender. He confirmed some constructive offensive traits — minding the zone and hitting the ball each laborious and on a line ceaselessly typically sufficient to examine him having fun with higher years as soon as he settles in.
  • Then there’s O’Hoppe, who was off to a superb begin final season (4 residence runs in 16 video games) earlier than tearing his labrum. He required surgical procedure however returned in August. In 35 video games down the stretch, he homered 10 extra occasions and posted a .759 OPS. The massive questions dealing with O’Hoppe now are can he keep wholesome and might he enhance on his protection. In keeping with Statcast, he ranked within the twentieth percentile or worse in each framing and throwing out baserunners. He did grade properly as a goalie, nevertheless.

As you’ll be able to see, every of the three have their deserves. Additionally they have some uncertainties inside their profiles that — considered from a sure perspective — forged doubt on their talents to be greater than common performers. Can they modify that notion in 2024? We’ll discover out, and the reply will go an extended approach to figuring out what sort of season that is for the Angels.

Is that this Trout’s final yr in L.A.?

We apologize upfront to Angels followers bored with considering the departure of one other star, however it’s a query that may proceed to be requested till both the group improves or Trout asks for a commerce. 

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At current, there is no indication the latter is drawing close to. Trout spoke on the matter in February, describing himself as “loyal” to the Angels. He added that requesting a commerce could be taking the “straightforward approach out.” Maybe, however we could not blame him for fascinated by it extra because the losses pile up. Trout is nearing his thirty third birthday and he is been to the postseason as soon as in his profession. That was again in 2014, or a decade in the past, when the Angels had been swept by the Royals in three video games. There could be no disgrace in him desirous to expertise extra postseason baseball earlier than his physique and Father Time converge to price him extra of his productiveness. 

Apart from, as odd because it reads, you’ll be able to cause that the Angels must be those wanting Trout to alter his stance on loyalty. Trout, once more nearing his mid-30s, has averaged 79 video games over the past three seasons. He hasn’t cleared the 150-game threshold since 2016. Gamers usually don’t get more healthy as they age, irrespective of how a lot we want in any other case. Add in how Trout is owed greater than $35 million yearly via the 2030 season, and there are some unsavory left-tail outcomes on the desk.

In fact, there are legitimate causes to maintain Trout. He’s, at this level, one of many few causes to purchase a ticket to an Angels recreation. He additionally controls his personal future, by advantage of getting a full no-trade clause. If he does not wish to be dealt, he will not be dealt. If he modifies his thoughts, although, properly, who may blame him?

What would make for a profitable season?

This Angels group strikes us as having one of many lowest ceilings and one of many deepest flooring within the league. It is laborious to see them climbing above .500, however it’s straightforward to see them sinking right into a race for lottery positioning. 

If that appears harsh, simply keep in mind: the Angels mix a so-so big-league roster with a barren farm system. For them to overachieve, they’d virtually need to get “fortunate” — that means overperform in one-run video games, just like the Marlins did final season, or keep impossibly wholesome. Bizarre issues occur in baseball on a regular basis. We won’t absolutely rule it out. We are able to, nevertheless, describe such a state of affairs as unlikely based mostly on right now’s data.

Shy of that, we expect a profitable season for the Angels would entail their younger gamers taking a step ahead and galvanizing hope; them nailing the draft; and sure, Trout seeing a silver lining within the distance that convinces him to stay round. That is not a dream season by any rubric, however it certain beats the nightmare.

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