MLB Opening Day Countdown Series – Los Angeles Angels
2017 Record: (80-82) 2nd in AL West
Off Season Transactions:
Traded for Ian Kinsler from the Detroit Tigers for prospects
Signed Shohei Ohtani from Japan
Signed Zack Cozart in Free Agency
*There is a lot of Buzz around Shohei Ohtani so I’ll do a quick write up about him pitching/hitting here so I don’t have to later*
There is a lot of buzz around this guy and I have seen a lot of preseason projections for 2018 giving him the same projections as a lot of pitchers that I respect. Since we don’t really know a whole lot about this guy I’ll try to give a brief overview. Don’t get me wrong, I am not a professional scout or anything but I’ll do my best to break down what I have seen from the guy by watching film and reading some stuff on him. He has a fastball that sits about 96-100 on film (and I’ve read that it can get up to 102?). He also has very nice complementary pitches off of the fastball which is needed this day and age because anyone can hit that speed fastball now. The splitter looks to be the strikeout pitch he goes to most often and mixes it up with a slider on the outside corners especially to right handed hitters. The combination of fastball with splitter allows him the opportunity to elevate the fastball when he is ahead in the count and can also be used as a strikeout pitch. He will be able to strikeout many big-league hitters with the stuff I have seen. He struck out 624 hitters in 523 innings over in Japan. When it comes to DFS, I think he is going to be an option we will have to consider just because of the strikeout potential. Remember that early on in the year he might really do well because guys have not seen him pitch before and will not be able to watch MLB film and learn his tendencies. It might be a good time to take a risk with him. There are two routes, he can start hot and regress once people see him more throughout the year or he can get better the more coaching and experience he gets in the MLB. We will have to see. As it goes for hitting, he is still raw and obviously has not seen the pitching that the MLB level has so my guess is he will struggle a little bit. But as a prospect he has good tools. He is 6’5” and has good speed. The power ability and speed combo is desirable. However, I have read that the team wants him to focus more on contributing with his pitching and anything from the bat would be a bonus. Me personally, I will have the most interest in Ohtani as a pitcher in DFS over Ohtani as a hitter. As the season moves forward we will get a better look at this guy, but hopefully you learned just kind of who he is as a player and what he brings to the table.
Projected Starting Rotation:
Garrett Richards – He has battled injuries the past couple years but should be back healthy for the start of the season. Not sure how he will come back, but he is a good pitcher. Not one we’ll really be looking to target because he does a good job at keeping the ball on the ground. He pitches to contact leading to lack of strikeout upside so also probably someone who is more of a safe play who lacks upside.
Shohei Ohtani – See above.
Matt Shoemaker – We’re going to be able to take bats against him this year. He is a reverse splits pitcher who gives up a lot of his damage to right handed hitters so keep that in mind. With that being said, left handed hitters are still viable options as well.
JC Ramirez – Find the right matchup for him and you can pitch him in tournaments. Kind of a cheap flyer option. The situation you will pitch him in is when he gets a predominately right-handed lineup he is facing. It helps if the team is a strikeout prone team as well because JC pitches to contact. With that being said, he induces far more ground balls when facing hitters who are right handed with over a 50% ground ball percentage which has turned into less hard contact and less runs given up against right handed hitters. The place he is very weak and we will attack him is with left handed hitters. He is very bad vs left handed hitting. He gives up 45% hard contact and while the fly ball % is okay, when he gives up fly balls they go out of the ballpark with a 2 HR/9 ratio vs left handed hitters. When we want to pick on JC or ride with JC is all situationally dependent.
Tyler Skaggs – He is pitchable in the right matchups because he did have games last year where he performed very well. However, I won’t be considering him very often. He isn’t a huge strikeout guy unless it’s the right matchup. He is someone you can look to take a right-handed bat or two against but I wouldn’t take a left-handed hitter vs him.
Middle of the road bullpen who brought it some veteran guys to stabilize roles and hope for increased production.
Zach Cozart (3B) – Had a career year last year and will look to keep it up. Moving form shortstop to 3rd base and is also moving from Great American Ball Park to Angels Stadium that ranks as a very pitcher friendly park. He was a great option last year and if he continues where he left off this year he will be once again. The move from shortstop to 3rd base makes him less appealing though because 3rd is more deep.
Mike Trout (OF) – Best player in the game. He is expensive and it is baseball so I don’t think it is ever really all worth it to roster a guy who is $1,000 more than other guys but he obviously can go for 50 point games with the power/base stealing ability.
Justin Upton (OF) – Has a ton of upside and played really well when he got traded over from Detroit. I will roster him a lot and is a very good hitter with power upside.
Albert Pujols (1B) – Getting to the end of his career as well. Hit under .250 last year and showed more power and ability to drive in runs vs right handed pitching. It is getting to the point where you really want to pick your spots with him because obviously he isn’t the machine anymore.
Kole Calhoun (OF) – He has some power ability but something special. He isn’t going to be someone I roster all too often.
Shohei Ohtani (OF)- See above.
Ian Kinsler (2B) – My guess is they brought him in for more of a leadership role. He is getting older and had a bad year when it comes to hitting for average but still has the ability to find gaps, drive in runs, and poke 20+ out this year.
Andrelton Simmons (SS) – Lacks upside but hits for decent average but isn’t going to be someone who wins you a tournament.
Martin Maldonado (C) – One of the best catchers defensively but not much of a hitter. May be a flyer option as a punt at catcher because he can go yard from time to time.
Ball Park Factor – 25th
Pitcher friendly ballpark.
“Must Knows” of the Los Angeles Angles going into 2018 MLB DFS:
I think the most interesting thing about the Angels for 2018 is how they chose to use and fit in Ohtani. Read the blurb about him in the first part of the article for more info on him. Another interesting thing is that he will be eligible as a pitcher and an OF on the sites so I am interested to see how that turns out.