The lineup the Angels send out for 2014 provides much hope for the city of Los Angeles. They have the ability to hit for power, average and have enough speed to compete as one of the best lineups in the league. They are one of the few teams in the league that could feature at least 5 hitters that can start on a fantasy team. They have two former MVP award winners, along with the Rookie of the Year in 2012. Let's take a deeper look at the lineup top to bottom:
Los Angeles Angels – Hitters Preview
Center Field – Mike Trout
Trout comes in after two monstrous fantasy seasons in 2012 and 2013. He's put up two seasons for the ages, and he is only 22. Don’t be surprised if he finds himself in the three hole before the seasons is over if Sir Albert is not doing so well there. With his combination of power and speed he is the most dangerous player in fantasy and will for sure be the number one pick in your league. He can very easily produce a season much like his previous two with 25-30 HR, 85+ RBI, 120+ runs, a .325 BA and 40 SB.
Second Base – Howie Kendrick
After only playing 122 games in 2013, Kendrick’s durability is a problem, but if he stays on the field this year he can produce at a high level. Hitting after Trout and before Pujols will allow Kendrick to see a lot of very hittable fastballs. Pitchers would rather let him beat them then either of the other two. This could be the most coveted lineup spot in the league because of the surrounding players. While we rank him at the #17 spot in our 2014 Top 20 Fantasy Baseball Rankings for Second Base, he has upside for more.
First Base – Albert Pujols
After being an slam dunk for a line looking like .320-35-120, Pujols is just hoping to play in 140 games now. There is no reason he shouldn’t reach the 30 homerun and 100 RBI plateau once again. His average will hover around .290 which is not the worst thing in the world, but not what they thought they were getting with that contract he signed before the 2012 season. Even with his steadily declining peripherals, if Pujols stays healthy he will be very productive because of the company he is in.
Right Field – Josh Hamilton
He was once a top 10 pick for a couple of years, but after his performance in 2013 Hamilton should plummet to a fourth rounder at best. He is capable of getting back to a .285-40-120 season if he can relax and enjoy playing baseball more than he seemed to in 2013. Hamilton looked very tense from his first at bat of spring training last year and he carried that attitude like a heavy weight all the way through September. Some players have careers that feature good seasons every other year, and Josh just happens to be one of them. This is a year that would fall into line as being a good season, so hopefully he plays the way he is supposed to, cuts down on the strike outs, and picks up his overall game.
Third Base – David Freese
The last time Freese was in the same lineup as Albert Pujols, they won the World Series and Freese hoisted up the MVP award. Maybe reuniting with Pujols will spark Freese and he will be able to produce at the levels he was once thought to be at. If he can play 140 games he could very easily hit .300 with 20 HR and 85 RBI.
Designated Hitter – Raul Ibanez
Round - Late Round Flier
He will start the season at the young age of 41 and he hopes to produce another impressive season. In 2013, Ibanez tied Ted Williams' record for most homeruns in a season by a player aged 40 or older with 29. It is very possible he can hit 20+ HR again in the nice weather in Los Angeles, but do not count on his body to stay healthy for more than 120 games. Anything over that would be house money for this veteran.
Left Field – Kole Calhoun
Round - Late Round Flier
Kole is one of RotoBaller Shawn Caswell's Five Outfielders on the Rise for 2014. After only appearing in 58 games in 2013, Kole looks poised to get a majority of the playing time in left field this year. There is not much depth in the Angels outfield right now, so there is no reason he does not get the job handed to him in spring training. Kole had a solid showing last year and if he stays productive he can hit .280 with 15+ HR and 70+ RBI.
Catcher – Chris Iannetta
Round - DND
Iannetta has never been much of a power threat, even in his early days in Colorado, so do not expect a lot of eye popping numbers from this catcher. Like Calhoun, he will see a lot of hittable pitches and producing a batting average above .240 would be very nice. He is there to maintain the pitching staff and contribute on defense not to be a threat in the lineup.
Shortstop – Erick Aybar
Round - Late Round Flier
Aybar is the biggest wild card in the Angels’ lineup. He can hit anywhere between .250 and .310, so it's hard to guess what he will produce. He needs to get on base more and give the top of the lineup opportunities to drive him in. Aybar could move back into the leadoff spot with Trout dropping to the 2nd or 3rd if he is producing a solid OBP, and that would increase his value tremendously.