Here are the top five fantasy questions facing the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim of California of the U.S. of Earth of the Milky Way. Mike Trout is not worth discussing unless the fantasy question is “Is Mike Trout the best fantasy player ever?” Almost everywhere else the Angels have big question marks, which is a good statement as to the value of spending money over the fundamentals of good decision making.
5. Will Kole Calhoun flop? He sure will. Calhoun reminds me so much of Brett Lawrie and we all know how that worked out. Calhoun was not a highly regarded prospect who lucked into a plum role with the big league club and ran with it. The rub? Everyone hits in Salt Lake City and 200 at-bats of success does not a major leaguer make. There are positives to like in his record, but they are outweighed by the negatives and the promise of playing time is pushing up his sleeper value, making him a bad bet.
4. Is Albert Pujols done? To many eyes this seems a fait accompli, but to these eyes he seems like a potential premium “Proven Player Off a Bad Year.” Pujols is old, has chronic plantar fasciitis and is not what he once was. On the other hand he was on a 25 HR 90 RBI pace last year while playing hurt. Of course his OPS has now slipped SIX consecutive years, but the underlying skills still look to be intact. This is a tough call but there is no reason he cannot repeat 2012 again if not 2011.
3. Will any of their non-Weaver starters be viable fantasy starters? After C.J. Wilson none of the other potential rotation candidates to back up Jered Weaver is a viable 12-team draftee. There is a lot of support for Garrett Richards as a breakout candidate and maybe he will breakout, but he is a reserve rounder. He gets a ton of ground balls and does not walk a lot of batters, but there is nothing separating him from dozens of other pitchers, many of whom will play in front of much better defenses. He is a $1 flyer. C.J. Wilson is the only other interesting guy and there is more hope for him than Richards, but his expected ERA was 0.60 higher than his actual ERA, his K/BB stinks as it normally does and he is now 33 years old coming off over 800 innings in the last four years. He looks like a fine, draftable starter but all arrows are pointing downward and by year’s end there is a good possibility he is waiver wire fodder.
2. Is Ernesto Frieri a big-time closer? The Closer Identifier Algorithm thinks so; he blows away its minimums and is one walk away from elite BB/9 territory. On the flip side he is as extreme a fly ball pitcher as any reliever and that always poses issues with job loss; a few errant gusts of wind lead to blown saves and if they get bunched he looks bad. A super-human 17% swinging strike rate in 2013 is buttressed by a 15% rate in 2012, so the K rate improvement appears real, but if he goes back to a mere 10 K/9 he could be in trouble.
1. Is Josh Hamilton really this bad? Like Pujols the conventional wisdom is that he is done. Unlike Pujols I think he is much closer to the end. When you hit a quarter of your fly balls out of the park it is easy to hide a lot of flaws, but he doesn’t make hard contact anymore. He swings at everything and handles lefties as well as Curtis Granderson, which is to say not well at all. He is a great Alternate Universe Hall of Fame candidate, but not worthy of your draft.
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