We at Razzball realize that exporting our views across the country has damaging consequences on the blogosphere. To help make amends, we are reaching out to leading team blogs and featuring their locally blogged answers to pressing 2013 fantasy baseball questions regarding their team. We feel this approach will be fresher, more sustainable, and require less energy consumption (for us anyway). The 2013 Angels Fantasy Baseball Preview comes courtesy of Garrett Wilson from Monkey With A Halo.
1) There’s nothing bad we can say about Mike Trout. Not one darn thing. We’ve even gone to the streets for interviews (<— Complete lie) to see if anyone can find something wrong with this kid and the answer comes back ‘he’s perfect’. So perfect, he’s being drafted in the first round of most mock drafts and is ranked 4th overall by Razzball for 2013 fantasy baseball rankings. The question is, can we reasonably expect another near 30/50 season and .300 average or are we setting ourselves up for disappointment with a repeat in mind?
Can you really ever expect a .300/30 HR/ 50 SB season out of anyone? Those numbers are absurd for even Superman (who Trout might actually be). There has been a lot of chatter about Trout having something of a sophomore slump this season, by which they mean he’ll put up numbers more befitting of a mortal, but I’m not so sure. I think people still just can’t get their heads around him being so good so soon. I get that he faded a bit down the stretch last season, but I think he will also have an opportunity to pad his numbers over 2012 because he won’t be in the minors for the first month of the season. I think he should be able to approach all of those numbers, but if I had to bet against one, it is the homers if only because that seems to be the least developed of his many offensive skills right now.
2) The Angels yet again landed the biggest bat in the free agent market this winter when they grabbed Josh Hamilton for a 5 year, $125 million dollar contract. However, despite hitting a career high 43 home runs last year, his strikeout rate of 25.5% was also his career high. Is there any concern for a declining ability to make contact or was he simply pressing to earn a big contract? What are your expectations for him in 2013?
What? Hamilton had contact issues down the stretch?!?!! Why have I not heard about this before?!?!?!!? I mean, it is not like I’ve been obsessing over those numbers ever since the Angels signed him or anything. On one level, the way he finished last season has me deeply concerned, but at the same time, I have brainwashed myself into believing that his slump might have been tied to off-field issues like his supposed problems with quitting chewing tobacco. No longer being the focal point of the offense could do him some good and give him a little less to focus on mentally. I still think that a decline is coming this season, if only because of the change in ballparks, but hopefully not a huge one.
3) The Angels picked up fantasy pitching enigma Tommy Hanson from the Braves this off-season in exchange for Jordan Walden in the hopes of shoring up their starting rotation after losing Zack Greinke to free agency. Due to his up and down record to date – both in terms of health and production – what are you expecting from Hanson this year and should fantasy owners be interested in drafting him in 2013?
You are aware that Hanson’s shoulder is made out of pudding, right? I’m no GM, but I’m pretty sure that when you trade a guy with ace-level talent who is only just entering his first year of arbitration for a reliever with control issues and a slider that only travels 58 feet, then it is probably because you have absolutely zero faith in that starting pitcher’s ability to stay healthy. In other words, my expectations for Hanson are low. Maybe he comes to camp having gotten in better shape and is now used to pitching with a few less MPH on his fastball and settles in as a mid-rotation guy. But more likely is that he is a wild roller coaster ride all season long, vacillating stretches of dominance and awfulness ultimately combining to leave him with a pretty below average line at season’s end.
4) Ernesto Frieri was a true, out of the blue savior for the bullpen last year for the Angels and took over most of the closing duties for LAA last year except for the occasional Downs sighting. Many would’ve thought he’d be the closer this year but Ryan Madson is being handed the job out of Spring Training if his arm is healthy enough. So, if you were me, which Angels’ reliever would you be drafting and how many saves does that person end up with by the end of the season?
This is a tough call because Mike Scioscia is something of a slave to bullpen roles, but he also has fired his closer in the first week of the season two years running. For fantasy purposes, I think it is a pretty safe bet that Madson will eventually get the lion’s share of save opportunities, probably from the start of the season as the early reports on his recovery are very good. However, I think Frieri will be the better pitcher from start to finish. So, if you just want saves and can live with a guy who might hurt your ERA and WHIP, go with Madson. If you want a truckload of strikeouts and maybe just a handful of saves (my guess is that Madson will be babied earlier in the year and won’t pitch on consecutive days very much), then you’ve got to get Ernasty.
5) The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim have just won the World Series in 2013. What’s one of the most plausible related stories as to how and why they got there from the list below:
A) Albert Pujols is AL MVP
B) Mike Scioscia insists the team needs to trade for Mike Napoli midway through the year to improve their offensive numbers from catcher. He then proceeds to make Napoli his 4th string catcher behind Pudge Rodriguez whose not even signed to the roster.
C) Vernon Wells becomes a ‘Yankee killer’ by single-handedly destroying that already decrepit lineup and forcing them out of contention
D) Mark Trumbo admits to the media that ‘he’s been juicing’ for the past three years. Reporters neglect to note he was talking about his Jack LaLanne Power Juicer, he’s suspended 50 games and the Angel’s DH spot goes into flux. Scioscia still refuses to play the traded for Napoli even at this time
E) Garrett Richards develops and becomes the Angels 3rd best starter in the second half.
F) All the catchers minus the traded for Napoli catch the superflu and are unable to play during September. Scioscia DFA’s Mike and plays behind the plate himself the rest of the way.
I’ll take secret option G, which I will explain in short order. Let me first explain why your other hypotheticals shall never come to pass. First and foremost, if any Angel wins MVP, it will be Trout. He should have won it last year, so I think there will be something of a “make up” vote coming his way this year if he puts up similar numbers. Second, the Angels will never trade Vernon Wells. I am convinced they keep him around to soak up all the vitriol of the fan base whenever anything goes wrong. Even when he isn’t playing, Wells gets blamed for everything. Give it another few weeks and I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if the Sandy Hook Truthers “discover” that Vernon masterminded the whole plot. Next, if Trumbo were juicing, he wouldn’t have collapsed in the second half of 2012 after he hurt his back. As for Richards, I just checked and it turns out that the Garrett Richards is Going to be Good Bandwagon has been foreclosed on and sold at auction, sorry.