2015 Los Angeles Angels Predictions and Odds to Win the World Series
by Alan Matthews - 4/1/2015
The Los Angeles Angels didn't look like potentially the best team in baseball last season for the first two months-plus of the season. The Halos were 16-17 on May 7 after a home loss to the Yankees. They were still just three games over .500 on June 5.
I would say the switch was flipped following a 5-3 10-inning loss in Cleveland on June 19 that dropped the Angels to 38-33 and six games behind first-place Oakland in the AL West. From that point on, Los Angeles was the best team in the majors.
The Angels shot past the A's early in the second half of the season and led the majors with 98 wins, taking the division by 10 games. They were the American League pennant favorites entering the playoffs, despite losing ace Garrett Richards to a season-ending knee injury. However, the Kansas City pitching staff shut down the highest-scoring offense in MLB, winning the first two games in Anaheim in 11 innings each -- holding the Angels to a combined three runs -- and then finishing off the shocking sweep in Game 3 back in Kansas City.
Free $60 in Member MLB Picks No Obligation Click Here
So while the Angels won the division title and reached the playoffs for the first time since 2009, clearly the season had to be called a disappointment with that playoff flop. L.A. opens the season Monday at Seattle, which should be the Halos' toughest competition to repeat as AL West champion.
Angels 2015 Projected Lineup
How strong was the L.A. lineup last year? Every starting position player had an adjusted OPS-plus over 100 (that's on-base percentage plus slugging adjusted to a player's ballparks). The Angels were just one of 40 teams in big-league history with eight guys having at least that number. One key guy is gone from that every-day lineup is second basemen Howie Kendrick, who was traded to the Dodgers for highly-touted young pitcher Andrew Heaney (via the Marlins). In addition, no one knows when left fielder Josh Hamilton will play this season. He's recovering from shoulder surgery and awaiting a suspension on top of that from MLB for a drug relapse. Frankly, the Angels might be better off without Hamilton at this point as he's just not that productive any longer. The former AL MVP lasted only 89 games last year and hit .263 with 10 homers, 44 RBIs and 108 strikeouts.
Right fielder Kole Calhoun (.272, 17 HRs, 58 RBIs) was a pleasant surprise last season and will lead off. He's followed by the best player in baseball and reigning AL MVP Mike Trout. Here's what's amazing about Trout: His 2014 season was worse than the first two of his career when he was runner-up to Miguel Cabrera for AL MVP. Trout still hit .287 with 36 homers, 111 RBIs, 115 runs scored and 16 steals, but his strikeout total rose appreciably to 184. That's the only worry now -- he seemed to struggle with the high fastball at times. The guy is only 23.
First baseman Albert Pujols (.272, 28 HRs, 105 RBIs) hits third, and he had a nice bounce-back season in playing 159 games. Those numbers are probably his ceiling at this point. Now hitting behind Pujols instead of Hamilton will be new addition Matt Joyce, who should man left field while Hamilton is out and then could move to DH (or Hamilton could). Joyce was acquired from the Rays in December and hit.254 with nine homers and 52 RBIs in 140 games last year.
The rest of the lineup projects to be third baseman David Freese (.260, 10 HRs, 55 RBIs), shortstop Erick Aybar (.278, 68 RBIs), DH C.J. Cron (.256, 11 HRs, 37 RBIs in 242 at-bats), catcher Chris Iannetta (.252, 43 RBIs) and second baseman Johnny Giavotella. He's the surprise of the bunch. He wasn't expected to beat out Josh Rutledge for the job, but Giavotella has been excellent this spring. Giavotella, who was in the Royals organization for seven years, has never made a big-league Opening Day roster.
Angels 2015 Projected Rotation & Closer
The big question here is when Richards will be ready, and it doesn't seem like he will hit his target date of April 14, but it shouldn't be long after. Richards will remain in Arizona after the Angels break camp Wednesday. He was 13-4 with a 2.61 ERA last year before blowing out his knee in Boston in late August. The Halos also lost young Tyler Skaggs to Tommy John surgery during last season, and he won't pitch in 2015.
Thus, it will be a four-man rotation to open the season with right-hander Jered Weaver (18-9, 3.59) atop of it. Weaver isn't the dominant Cy Young-caliber guy any longer as he has lost velocity but still a fine pitcher. He will be followed by declining left-hander C.J. Wilson (13-10, 4.51), right-hander Matt Shoemaker (16-4, 3.04), one of the biggest surprises in baseball last year, and lefty Hector Santiago (6-9, 3.75). Expect to see Heaney up at some point as he will start the season in Triple-A. Heaney, 23, gave up 19 earned runs in 19 innings this spring with four homers.
Closer Huston Street (41 saves, 1.37 ERA) had his best season a year ago. He was acquired San Diego last July 19 and had 17 saves with a 1.71 ERA for the Angels, shoring up an inconsistent bullpen.
Angels Futures Odds & 2014 Trends
At Bovada , L.A. is +1400 to win the World Series, +650 to take the pennant, +180 second favorite for the AL West and with an "over/under" wins total of 88.5 (under -130 favorite). Trout is the even-money favorite to repeat as AL MVP and +1400 to lead the majors in homers. His totals for the year: .309, 32.5 homers, 101.5 RBIs and 25.5 steals. Pujols is a +6600 long shot to lead the majors in homers. Richards is +3300 to win the Cy Young, Weaver is the same price, and Shoemaker is +7500. Weaver's totals are: 13.5 wins, 3.30 ERA. The Halos were 86-76 against the runline last season and 80-77-5 O/U. On the moneyline, they were +2141 units on the year.
Angels 2015 Predictions
FanGraphs projects Los Angeles to finish 87-75, a game behind Seattle for first in the AL West. This is not a 98-win team again. The lineup is worse without Kendrick. In the rotation, Wilson is regressing, and Shoemaker could have been a one-year wonder considering he's already 28 and had pitched just one big-league game in his career prior to 2014. I'm going just under the wins but do think the Angels have a good chance at a wild-card spot. You only need around 88 wins these days to get one. Trout won't repeat as MVP. Go under his average and steals but over homers and RBIs. Go over Weaver's wins and ERA.
The handicappers at Doc's Sports are offering $60 worth of member's baseball picks absolutely free - no obligation, no sales people - Sign up here for free baseball picks. Also, for a limited time only get three MLB handicappers for the price of one. Click here for details.
Read more articles by Alan Matthews
Get all of Today's Free MLB Picks
Get all of Today's 100% Profit Guaranteed Expert MLB Picks