Los Angeles Angels Odds to Win 2014 World Series
by Alan Matthews - 3/27/2014
Here we go again.
In a Washington Nationals preview I wrote here at Doc's two weeks ago , I mentioned that I loved the Nats even more to win the NL East than I did previously not because of what they did in the spring to that point but due to key injuries suffered by their top competitor, the Atlanta Braves.
Entering Spring Training I thought the Angels certainly could compete for the AL West title, but I wasn't totally sold on them. Now I am. Again, it's not all on what they have done -- although L.A. has so far avoided major injury -- but what has happened to top rivals Oakland and Texas. The A's have lost their projected No. 1 pitcher Jarrod Parker for the year (and No. 2 A.J. Griffin could miss April). The Rangers already knew they weren't going to have No. 2 Derek Holland for half the year, but in the past week they have been devastated with 10-to-12-week injuries to second baseman Jurickson Profar and catcher Geovany Soto. Two of the team's best players? No, but two big holes nonetheless. In addition, Texas got a scare with Yu Darvish's neck injury. He's apparently going to be fine but won't pitch Opening Day. Needless to say, a neck injury could become something much worse. That Rangers rotation already is a jumble. How much of a mess? Someone named Tanner Scheppers will start the opener, and that will be the former reliever's first-ever start.
So now I'm all in on the Halos for the division, presuming that by the time this story posts they don't lose one of Jered Weaver, Mike Trout, Albert Pujols or Josh Hamilton. I really don't get why many of the so-called experts say the Halos are being overrated. For example, ESPN's respected data analyst Dan Szymborski has the ZIPS computer model having Los Angeles with just 81 wins. Also, don't forget the Halos get to play the Mariners (who may only be slightly better with Robinson Cano) and Astros 29 times. There alone L.A. could win a good 29 games, which is a third of the way to 87 (see below why relevant).
In fact, I can see the Angels getting off to a tremendous start as these are their first five series: three vs. Seattle, four at Houston, two at Seattle, three vs. Mets and three vs. A's. Sometimes all it takes is a good start to build season-long confidence, something this club has most definitely not done the past two seasons.
Los Angeles Angels 2014 Projected Lineup
This group has the capability of scoring the most runs in the majors in 2014. Last year the Angels were No. 6 in the AL with 733 and only 10th in home runs because of an injury-plagued season for Pujols and a disappointing one for Hamilton. Will Pujols ever be the guy who hits .330 with 45 homers and 130 RBIs again? Probably not, but I see no reason why he can't hit around .285 with 35 dingers and 110 knocked in. He really was never 100 percent healthy since arriving from St. Louis, and ending his season after 99 games a season ago should do wonders. I'm also a believer in how professional the guy is and how badly he wants to prove the doubters wrong and earn his money. Hamilton was pressing a bit last year trying to live up to his contract. He's not likely a 40-homer guy again but can hit 30 and knock in around 100.
Of course the Halos have the greatest all-around player in baseball in Mike Trout. Some expected a bit of a sophomore slump in 2013, but all he did was hit .323 with 27 homers, 87 RBIs, 33 steals and a great .432 on-base percentage. His steals might drop slightly as Trout should hit full-time in the No. 2 spot behind new starting right fielder Kole Calhoun. He essentially replaces the traded Peter Bourjos, who landed the Angels third baseman David Freese. Experts largely panned that deal because Bourjos is a stellar defender and baserunner, while Freese slumped to a .262 average and only nine homers with St. Louis last year. If he can bounce back, then the middle of the order could be truly spectacular from 2-7: Trout, Pujols, Hamilton, Freese, Raul Ibanez and Howie Kendrick. Whom do you pitch around?
The Halos do lose the 34 homers and 100 RBIs of Mark Trumbo after he was dealt this offseason, but Ibanez can nearly replicate those numbers. Plus, all Trumbo could do was hit homers. He struck out a ton and was a defensive liability.
Los Angeles Angels 2014 Projected Rotation & Closer
This has been the problem area for the Halos, so they addressed it with the Trumbo trade, acquiring lefty Hector Santiago from the White Sox and young southpaw Tyler Skaggs from Arizona. They appear to be the Nos. 4-5 guys behind Jered Weaver, C.J. Wilson and Garrett Richards. Joe Blanton was in the mix for a end-of-rotation spot, but Los Angeles finally cut bait on him this week. He had a 6.04 ERA last year and was awful this spring. He still gets $7.5 million this season from L.A. Don't you love those guaranteed contracts?
I wouldn't call that rotation stellar by any means, but it could be good enough as long as Weaver and Wilson stay off the disabled list. I also expect that the Angels would be willing to eat some salary at the July trade deadline to acquire a starter, although they don't have many well-regarded prospects to trade.
The bullpen wasn't great last year. Ernesto Frieri had 37 saves, but a 3.80 ERA is pretty bloated for a closer. The team did acquire two guys to bolster the pen in Joe Smith (2.29 ERA with Cleveland) and Fernando Salas (in Freese trade from Cardinals). The return to health of lefty Sean Burnett also would help out there. His 2013 season ended early after forearm surgery. He had a 0.93 ERA in limited action and 2.38 ERA in 70 appearances the season before with Washington.
2014 Los Angeles Angels Odds to win the World Series & Futures Odds
Odds from Bovada : The Angels are +225 to win the AL West, +1100 win the pennant and +2000 to win the World Series. They have a wins total of 86.5 (both -115). Trout is the 3/1 favorite for MVP (he was the slight favorite last year as well) and has totals of a .320 average, 29.5 home runs and 95.5 RBIs. Pujols is 16/1 to win MVP and 25/1 to lead the majors in homers. His totals: .290 average, 30.5 homers, 109.5 RBIs. Hamilton is 40/1 to lead in home runs and 50/1 to win MVP. He has totals of 26.5 HRs and 101.5 RBIs (no average). Weaver is 15/1 to win the Cy Young. His "over/under" wins are 14.5 and a 3.25 ERA.
2014 Los Angeles Angels Picks and Predictions
This looks like the best lineup in the AL West. The Angels have a top two in the rotation that's also probably better than any division contender now that Oakland's Parker is hurt and the Rangers won't have Holland for half a season. Perhaps Los Angeles will have to win several 5-4 or 6-5 games. So be it.
Now that the expectations are finally off, I like L.A. to win the AL West and go over those 86.5 wins. I'm under on all of Trout's numbers, but not by much on any, partly because of his spot in the lineup. I'm over on Pujols' homers and RBIs but under on average. Over on Hamilton's homers but just under on his RBIs as Pujols may clear out those runners in scoring position ahead of him often. I like over Weaver's wins but also his ERA. He should go something like 16-8 with a 3.50 ERA. I don't think any Angels win the major awards or that they can win the pennant as currently constructed.
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