Here’s why the Angels will make the playoffs in 2014:
Trout and Calhoun: During his first two major league seasons Mike Trout has produced numbers that rival Hall of Famers such as Willie Mays. The twenty-two year-old sensation is the best overall player in the game at an age that many top level talents are still playing double AA ball. He’s a once in a generation talent who’ll now occupy centerfield after the Peter Bourjos trade. Joining Trout in the outfield is the talented Kole Calhoun. With Bourjos in St. Louis the 26-year-old Calhoun will have an everyday role and look for the lefthander to put together a solid season. He put together solid numbers in 222 plate appearances last season, a performance that should continue since the young outfielder has produced at every level he’s played at.
A Healthy Pujols: Albert Pujols tried to gut it out and play with severe pain from Plantar Fasciitis last season, but the severe pain greatly limited the former five-time MVP and eventually ended his season. His inability to run and play the field greatly impacted his performance and impact on the team. After season ending surgery Pujols looks healthy this spring and should have a big season. If Pujols can rebound with a big season the Angels offense will be extremely dangerous.
Offseason Trades: The Angels used two big assets, Peter Bourjos and Mark Trumbo, to acquire help and fill a couple of glaring needs, third base and the pitching staff. The Angels acquired third baseman David Freese and pitchers Tyler Skaggs, Hector Santiago and Fernando Salas in the Bourjos/Trumbo deals. While Freese, a former World Series MVP struggled last season, he’s a big improvement over what the Angels trotted out at third last season. Skaggs and Santiago are talented young starters that will give the Angels two very good arms behind Jered Weaver and CJ Wilson. In 23 starts for the White Sox last season Santiago had an excellent 3.56 ERA and 137 strikeouts in 149 innings pitched. The 6’5” Skaggs, a native of Santa Monica, is one of the top young lefthanders in the game. Although they are young both players give the Angels and upgrade n the starting pitching department. Salas is a dependable reliever who saved 24 games for the Cardinals in 2011. He’ll join another former Cardinals reliever, Joe Smith, in a revamped bullpen.
Even with the offseason moves the Angels still enter the season with a few question marks. Behind the top five starters there is very little rotation depth, so an injury to a starting pitcher or some tough outings from Skaggs and Santiago could force the Angels to rely on a player like Joe Blanton in the lineup. Offensively the big question mark will continue to be what type of production the Angels can get from Josh Hamilton. The former Ranger had a brutal first half and a somewhat better second half last season, but still well below his career standards. If Hamilton continues to struggle the Angels may miss the big bat of Mark Trumbo in the lineup. Additionally although the acquisitions of Smith and Salas will help the bullpen the Angels relief crew hasn’t been the same since Bud Black left to manage the Padres several seasons ago. They have the depth and several good arms in the pen. If they can find consistency and closer Ernesto Frieri can avoid his bouts of wildness the Angels bullpen should be in good shape.
PECOTA, the advanced statistical system invented by Nate Silver for Baseball Prospectus projects the Angels to be a playoff team in 2014. PECOTA projects a wild card finish for the Angels based on having the second ranked offense in the American League for 2014, based on improved seasons from David Freese, Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton.
The Angels Start off the 2014 Season on March 31 against the Seattle Mariners. Opening Day Angels Tickets run from $55 to $355 per seat. Of course the biggest series for the Angels this season is going to the the Yankees who will be on the Derek Jeter fair well tour. The first meet up is May 5th – 7th at Angels Stadium. Angels Vs Yankees Tickets from from $95 to $300 per ticket for right behind the dugout seats. By: Chris Cabrera
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