Billy Eppler has been busy. Maybe he hasn’t been involved with as many cash swaps and trades as his gloomy GM up North, but he has made enough changes to greatly turn the tide of the Angels offense going in to 2018.
The first part of the table below shows offensive numbers from 2017 for a given position. The second part shows numbers from the Steamer predictions for 2018. Also in that section are numbers from last year for the new players - as well as Mike Trout since because he missed much of 2017, the CF number for 2017 are not as impressive as they normally would have been.
Angels Offensive Production 2017
|2018 Steamer Predictions||wRC+ change|
|C - Maldy||0.144||76||0.290||0.658||+14|
|DH - Pujols||0.187||99||0.309||0.751||+22|
|1B - Cron||0.199||105||0.312||0.768||+15|
|1B - Valbuena||0.193||98||0.294||0.732||+8|
|2B - Kinsler||0.156||97||0.317||0.728||+37|
|SS - Simmons||0.127||95||0.323||0.720||-8|
|3B - Cozart||0.163||99||0.321||0.738||+3|
|RF - Calhoun||0.171||98||0.333||0.765||+7|
|CF - Trout||0.298||176||0.434||1.041||+42|
|LF - Upton||0.219||113||0.330||0.795||+31|
Looking at the second chart, you can see some impressive numbers in that last column which is the expected change in wRC+ out of each player/position.
Steamer expects an output from Martin Maldonado. I’d have to admit that is pretty likely, as his performance in 2017 was very lackluster at the plate, especially in the second half. Should get better next time around.
There are a lot of unknowns here with a lot of potential. Shohei Ohtani looks to share time with Albert Pujols here in 2018. Given Pujols’ poor performance last year and much better off season health, it’s likely we see better stuff from him next year. Ohtani? That remains to be seen. This guy can hit AND he can hit the ball hard and far. How will that translate to MLB? We don’t really know and Ohtani could end up being a huge boost to the lineup OR a guy that settles in solely as a pitcher. Either way, there will pretty likely be a boost in performance from the DH spot in 2018.
In the case of 1st base, it’s difficult to calculate as Cron, Valbuena, and Pujols should all see time there. At this point, I see Cron as getting at least 200 ABs because Valbuena will spend some time at 3rd and Pujols can’t play 1st all the time. Surprisingly to many, predictions are that Cron will have the best numbers of this bunch. There is enough room here for improvement from last year and enough players to Scioscia to manage the best performances he can get from this spot - but also enough rope to hang himself with over managing. How Scioscia handles the DH and 1B spot this year will be very interesting to watch.
Last year we had Danny Espinosa who dug a hole so deep at second base, Altuve playing there the rest of the year would maybe have put the Angels at average for the position. It’s really not hard to improve here and if Ian Kinsler is even close to last year or predictions for this year - this spot will see a larger offensive boost than any other around the field.
We get more of Simmons this year doing Simmons things. I’d expect his offensive output to be about the same as it was last year give or take. No real major changes here.
Defensively, Zack Cozart is a huge boost here. Offensively, he’s a boost over Valbuena but Escobar player a chunk of last season at the hot corner so overall, Cozart probably brings a moderate increase at the plate.
Kole Calhoun had a pretty bad year in 2017 and some would say his career worst. However, his AVG was down but he had a career high in walks. It WAS his worst year for WAR as a full time player but 2.2 is still pretty darn good. In short, Kole was not THAT bad last year, so we may see an increase in output there, but nothing ground breaking.
Numbers out of this spot last year look uncharacteristically low since Trout missed a chunk of the season. Assuming Trout plays his usual 155 games or so, the Angels should see quite a boost out of center field this year as well.
Next to second base and a full year of Trout, left field is the 3rd spot that should see a huge boost in 2018. The addition of Justin Upton brings something the Angels haven’t seen since Vernon Wells in 2011 - a left fielder who played over 100 games. Upton should also bring something the Angels haven’t seen since Josh Hamilton in 2014 - a regular playing left fielder with a .700+ OPS. Upton should be a HUGE boost over 2017 and something the Angels haven’t see from that position for quite some time.