Los Angeles Angels 2020: Scouting, Projected Lineup, Season Prediction

How will things shape up in the AL West?

On the way to winning his third American League MVP last year, Mike Trout seemingly did something you wouldn’t think possible — he got better. Now, the challenge for the Angels is to do the same. They believe they made a big step in that direction with the hiring of Joe Maddon as manager. He replaces Brad Ausmus, who served as a one-year bridge between Mike Scioscia and Maddon. It is a homecoming for Maddon, who spent more than 30 years in the Angels organization as a minor league player and coach and then MLB coach.

 

He inherits a roster short on talent — particularly on the pitching staff — but bolstered with the addition of Anthony Rendon, the anticipated return of Shohei Ohtani and the possible arrival of top prospect Jo Adell. Along with Trout and Maddon, that should at least make the Angels more competitive than the depleted group that sank to 90 losses, shaken by the tragic midseason death of Tyler Skaggs.

 

That tragedy, certain to be followed by legal repercussions, will shadow the Angels in 2020. But the team hopes the return of Maddon and an improved product on the field will provide more positive storylines.

 

Opposing Scouts Size Up the Angels

Los Angeles Angels logo“You’ve got to start with Mike Trout. It’s like watching Mickey Mantle in his prime — the quality of at-bats, the shortness of his swing, the way he hits good pitching and keeps adding power. I don’t care what the defensive metrics say, if there’s a catchable ball his way, he’s going to run it down. Trout should have a strong offense around him now with a lot of guys who just don’t strike out — David Fletcher, Andrelton Simmons, Tommy La Stella — and another franchise-type guy in Anthony Rendon. Albert Pujols is still a threat; he’s obviously lost a lot physically, but they pitch him differently because he’s a physical presence who can do some damage, and they’re afraid of making a mistake. The big problem with the Angels is the pitching. I like Keynan Middleton and Ty Buttrey in the bullpen, but the only guys in that rotation with much upside are Griffin Canning and Shohei Ohtani, and it’s hard to count on either guy to give you much volume. The good thing is that Trout and Rendon will be here for a while and can help recruit talent.”

 

Beyond the Box Score

 

Staying Put After years of maneuvering and negotiating, the Angels and the city of Anaheim reached an agreement in December that will keep the franchise there until at least 2050. Under the agreement, the city will sell Angel Stadium (53 years old this season) and 133 acres of land around it to a business partnership including Angels owner Arte Moreno for $325 million, with the Angels agreeing to play there for at least 30 more years. The deal will allow Moreno and the Angels to profit from development around the stadium.

 

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Dual Threat Slowed by knee surgery in September, Shohei Ohtani’s rehab from Tommy John surgery reached the point where he was cleared to start throwing off a pitcher’s mound in early December. The Angels are optimistic Ohtani will be able to resume a two-way role in 2020, pitching once a week and appearing as DH on three or four other occasions.

 

Sage Advice The Angels hired Tony La Russa as a special advisor to baseball operations. The 75-year-old Hall of Famer won 2,728 games (third all-time) and three World Series titles as a manager with the A’s, White Sox and Cardinals. Since retiring as manager following the 2011 season, La Russa has held less successful front office roles with the Diamondbacks and Red Sox.

 

Third-Timer Mike Trout is the 11th player to win at least three MVP awards. Barry Bonds won seven MVPs during his career. Yogi Berra, Roy Campanella, Joe DiMaggio, Jimmie Foxx, Mickey Mantle, Stan Musial, Mike Schmidt, Alex Rodriguez and Albert Pujols each won three times.

 

Crisis Hits Home The death of Tyler Skaggs last July has been tied to his use of the opioids oxycodone and fentanyl. Angels PR official Eric Kay told Drug Enforcement Agency officials that he provided illegal opioids to Skaggs and possibly other players. Kay was placed on administrative leave and reportedly underwent treatment for drug addiction. Legal action against the Angels and MLB is possible.

 

Coaching Shakeup There will be a number of changes on the coaching staff. Fired by the New York Mets as manager, Mickey Callaway landed with the Angels as their new pitching coach. Mike Gallego will move from third base coach to bench coach. Brian Butterfield follows Joe Maddon from Chicago and will be the third base coach. John Mallee will be assistant hitting coach. Tim Buss has been added as a quality assurance coach. Jeremy Reed and Paul Sorrento (hitting coaches), Jesus Feliciano (first base) and Jose Molina (catching) return to their old roles.

 

Projected Lineup

 

LINEUP

2B    David Fletcher (R)

CF    Mike Trout (R)

DH   Shohei Ohtani (L)

3B    Anthony Rendon (R)

LF    Justin Upton (R)

1B    Albert Pujols (R)

SS    Andrelton Simmons (R)

C     Jason Castro (R)

RF   Brian Goodwin (L)

 

BENCH

C      Anthony Bemboom (L)

INF   Tommy La Stella (R)

OF    Jo Adell (R)

INF    Matt Thaiss (L)

OF    Michael Hermosillo (R)

 

ROTATION

RHP    Shohei Ohtani*

RHP    Julio Teheran

LHP    Andrew Heaney

RHP    Dylan Bundy

RHP    Griffin Canning

 

BULLPEN

RHP    Hansel Robles (C)

RHP    Keynan Middleton

RHP    Ty Buttrey

RHP    Noe Ramirez

RHP    Justin Anderson

RHP    Felix Pena

RHP    Matt Andriese

RHP    Cam Bedrosian

 

Note: Shohei Ohtani is expected to return to the mound in mid-May as he completes his return from Tommy John surgery.

 

2020 Prediction: 4th in AL West

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