Skip to main content

Los Angeles Angels 2018: Scouting, Projected Lineup, Expert Insight

Mike Trout

Mike Trout

Two years ago, when Billy Eppler was hired as the Angels’ general manager, there was a legitimate debate about whether the team should trade superstar Mike Trout to jump-start a rebuilding process. The Angels were saddled with regrettable salary commitments to an aging Albert Pujols and a banished Josh Hamilton. A power struggle between veteran manager Mike Scioscia and fired GM Jerry Dipoto had divided the organization. The farm system was as thin as any in baseball with little hope of help coming in the short term.

Eppler, however, has put those problems in the rear-view mirror with one of the most productive offseasons in franchise history. Justin Upton was signed to a contract extension. Ian Kinsler was acquired by trade and Zack Cozart from the free-agent market. But far and away the highlight of the Angels’ winter was Shohei Ohtani’s surprising decision to sign with the team. The Japanese star will make Anaheim the base for his unprecedented attempt to bring his two-way talents to the U.S. He will be one of the most compelling stories in baseball this summer and, combined with Trout’s continued brilliance, will make Angels baseball must-see viewing.

Opposing Scouts Size Up the ANGELS

“They can’t hang with Houston, but they might be the next best in this division. Mike Trout is the best and most irreplaceable player in baseball. He’s showing no signs of slowing down, and now they’ve added a lot of thump around him. Justin Upton was a great fit when he came over last August, and you know what you get with him — a streaky hitter, but someone who can carry you when he’s hot. Zack Cozart can make the switch to third, and Ian Kinsler is such a steady pro at second, I’ll consider last year a mirage. The wild card is Shohei Ohtani — will his elbow hold up? And if so, how does he fit into the lineup? I know I don’t want to see Albert Pujols at first base, because he can’t run anymore and has no range. But that’s where he’ll have to go if he plays when Ohtani is the DH. They’ll lean on Ohtani in that rotation, because all of those starters have such a shaky health history. They’ve got options, but I really don’t know who to trust.”

Image placeholder title

Beyond the Box Score

Want more? Our new baseball magazine delivers full MLB team previews, fantasy insight, schedules, and predictions. Click to order your copy today or visit your local newsstand!

Image placeholder title

No Cause for Concern

Just days after Shohei Ohtani’s signing with the Angels, reports revealed that the 23-year old righthander had a damaged ulnar collateral ligament in his pitching elbow and received a platelet-rich plasma injection in the joint in October. GM Billy Eppler acknowledged that the condition of Ohtani’s elbow was included in the medical report distributed to all 30 MLB teams when Ohtani announced his intention to move to the United States. The GM said the Angels had Ohtani’s elbow re-examined before signing him and the team was “very comfortable” with the results.

New Number

Ohtani wore uniform number 11 for the Nippon Ham Fighters and held his final press conference with that team on Nov. 11 (11-11). But No. 11 was worn by Jim Fregosi and was retired by the Angels in 1998. Ohtani will wear No. 17 with the Angels instead.

Welcome to L.A.

Donald the Donkey is coming to Disneyland. Last spring, Zack Cozart’s then-Reds teammate Joey Votto promised to buy Cozart a donkey if Cozart made his first All-Star team in 2017. Cozart did — and Votto made good on the promise, delivering a donkey that the Cozart family named Donald after son Cooper’s favorite cartoon character, Donald Duck. After signing a three-year deal with the Angels as a free agent this winter, Cozart said Donald would be making the move to Southern California as well, as soon as the family found a new home with suitable land.

Scroll to Continue

Recommended Articles

Big Screen

One of the oldest stadiums in MLB, Angel Stadium will feature 14 new LED displays and a new video display board above right field. The new scoreboard in right field will be the third largest in MLB at 9,500 square feet. The scoreboards in Cleveland and Seattle are the only larger ones in the majors. A new 5,488-square-foot video display board will be installed in left field.

Staff Shakeup

Mike Scioscia is entering his 19th season as Angels manager, but there will be changes on his coaching staff again. Third base coach Ron Roenicke left the Angels to become bench coach for new Red Sox manager Alex Cora. Dino Ebel will replace him at third, and Josh Paul will join the Angels’ staff, replacing Ebel as Scioscia’s bench coach. Paul, 42, was the Yankees’ minor-league catching coordinator the past three seasons. Eric Hinske was hired as hitting coach, replacing Dave Hansen. Hinske had been the Cubs’ assistant hitting coach the past three seasons. 

Projected Lineup

2B    Ian Kinsler (R)
CF    Mike Trout (R)
LF    Justin Upton (R)

DH    Albert Pujols (R)
RF    Kole Calhoun (L)
3B    Zack Cozart (R)
1B    Luis Valbuena (L)
SS    Andrelton Simmons (R)
C     Martin Maldonado (R)

C     Rene Rivera (R)
DH   Shohei Ohtani (L)
OF   Chris Young (L)
OF   Eric Young Jr. (S)
RHP    Garrett Richards
RHP    Shohei Ohtani

LHP    Tyler Skaggs

RHP    Matt Shoemaker
LHP    Andrew Heaney
RHP    J.C. Ramirez

RHP    Blake Parker

RHP    Jim Johnson

RHP    Cam Bedrosian
RHP    Keynan Middleton
LHP    Jose Alvarez
RHP    Blake Wood

RHP    Noe Ramirez