I'm an Angels fan and, since you're reading this, chances are good that you are too. As I've written on this site before, my particular brand of fandom is one that demands complete loyalty. I was a fan when the Angels were bad and were being managed poorly (most of my childhood). I was a fan when the team won the World Series and went on a run of playoff appearances. Now that we've come almost full circle, back to the annual disappointment, I'm still a fan. I respect those who want to show their displeasure at Arte Moreno's foolishness by staying away and keeping your money out of his coffers. I just can't do it. So I decided to write something to give hope to fellow Angel fans who, like me, will always come back for more. Heck, maybe I can convince a few holdouts that it's worth their while to tune in on occasion.
The question is, then, how can we Angels fans stay positive? Arte has recently admitted that chances are slim he'll be spending any serious money this offseason. The roster as it stands right now will likely be the roster that takes the field on opening day. I normally stay in the statistical realm with my writing, and though I haven't done any in-depth analysis on the projected roster, a quick glance doesn't fill me with much hope.
So I'm NOT going to write something about the statistical projections of the 2016 Angels lineup. I'll leave the objectivity for others, while I try to bolster optimism. It is December, after all. Hope springs eternal! But I am who I am (namely, an accountant), and I couldn't leave numbers completely out of this. So I concocted some statistics to support my notion that the Angels will satisfy their fans in 2016 - the totally fabricated, fully subjective Watchability Index.
I'm going to examine some players from the Angels and rate them from 1 - 10 on the Watchability Index, 10 being a guy who commands your attention every time he's involved in a play, with 1 being a guy so boring that you consider changing the channel to watch soccer. Every team has 1's, and sometimes they're useful contributors to a successful team. But I'm going to focus on the exciting guys, the lightning rods, and, if my math is correct, the Angels have enough to keep us engaged throughout the season.
Mike Trout: 11
You're right, Nigel. Sometimes 10 just isn't enough. Mike Trout is the most watchable player in baseball. He does everything, and he does it spectacularly. I mean, look at this.
And then remember that he also crushes balls on a regular basis and makes ridiculous baserunning plays too. If you ever find yourself in the dog days of
August April wondering if you want to bother with an Angels game, just remember that you could be missing out on one of the best baseball players of all time doing unbelievable things.
Andrelton Simmons: 9
I know defense isn't everything. Simmons' bat will not remind you of prime Alex Rodriguez. It probably won't even remind you of 40-year-old Alex Rodriguez. But the guy is a revelation at shortstop. He consistently makes plays that leave your jaw on the floor. It will be great to see plays like this on a regular basis.
Whatever you may have thought of Erick Aybar or the trade that brought Simmons here, I guarantee that you're going to enjoy watching the next Ozzie Smith expertly navigate the shortstop position for the next five years.
Kole Calhoun: 8
Calhoun is such a joy to watch. He's one of those guys who gives everything he has on every play. He lays out to make catches. He puts everything into his swings. And he has an absolute bazooka for an arm.
As a bonus, he also has the only signature bat flip that I, as a stodgy, old-fashioned white guy, don't find disrespectful.
Albert Pujols: 7
I know this may seem high to some people, but this guy is one of the best to ever play the game. Yes, he's lost a couple steps over the years, but he can still do some impressive things with the bat. When his body cooperates, his baseball instincts allow him to make plays that give you a glimpse of the old Albert. He's a relatively low strikeout guy in this era. And we're also seeing him chase and pass some of the biggest names in baseball history.
If his injury doesn't keep him out too long, he could move past five more guys on the home run list next season, including Frank Robinson, which would put him ninth on the career leaderboard. Whatever you may think of his contract, that's exciting stuff.
The Young Pitchers: 7
We've got some wily veterans trying to hang on in the rotation, but we've also got some relatively young guys coming into their own. When Garret Richards is on, his stuff is some of the most electrifying in all of baseball. Andrew Heaney gave the Angels a very solid performance last year, and should only get better as he enters his age 25 season. Nick Tropeano showed flashes of brilliance last season as a 24-year-old. Tyler Skaggs is coming back from Tommy John surgery, but we've heard great things about his potential for several years now - this could be the year he shows us what that was about. Matt Shoemaker and Hector Santiago have been around a few years, but both have put up solid seasons for the Angels. Even having lost Sean Newcomb this offseason, the future is bright for the Angels starting staff. I'm willing to bet that we see very good things out of these guys next season. They'll have some down games, but I have a feeling we're going to be happy with our pitching staff.
Johnny Giavotella: 6.5
Yeah, I know, his defense is...how to put this charitably...atrocious. However, he still makes the occasional impressive diving stop, and there's no denying he's an excitable dude. His fist pumps and cheers when he inevitably comes up big in a clutch at bat are so much fun to watch. How can you not get excited by this?
The Bullpen: 6
Who loves action movies? Everyone does! Explosions, car chases, gun fights, inexplicable feats of athleticism. That's the Angels bullpen! Of course, sometimes you get JJ Abrams, and sometimes you get Michael Bay. This is more potential trainwreck watchability than masterpiece watchability, but entertainment is entertainment. Right? Who's with me? Anyone? Let's just move on.
The Rest: 4.5
There are a few relatively unwatchable guys on the team, but even they have silver linings. CJ Wilson can be infuriating when he nibbles, but I expect him to come out primed and healthy and pitching his heart out for his next contract. It's been painful to watch Jered Weaver lose so much of his stuff over the last few seasons, but we could also see him become a Moyer-esque soft tosser who gets guys out with pitches that move in unpredictable ways. The left field platoon won't be sexy, but both Gentry and Nava are very good defenders; at the very least, they won't be Matt Joyce. Yunel Escobar will be a good addition to the top of the lineup. We have two catchers who can limit the opposition's running game. There's a lot to like here.
I expect the Angels to contend for a playoff spot. The numbers might or might not support that, but any time you've got the best player in baseball, you've got a chance, right? However, even if the team struggles, I'll be watching at home or in the stadium whenever I can. These are my Angels, and miserly owner or not, there are a bunch of guys on this team who can consistently make you nod your head and think, "Yeah, THAT'S why I love baseball."