Everybody likes home runs, right? I’m going to go ahead and just assume everybody likes homers. I mean, we’re talking about something that not only put runs on the board for your team, but they also pump us full of excitement, awe and joy every time an Angels player sends one over an outfield wall. Yep...bombs, blasts, dingers, dongs, jacks (jimmy and otherwise), biscuits, or whatever you prefer to call home runs, are dope.
I bring this up because I believe that if you’re an ardent fan of the long ball, then you’re going to enjoy watching the 2017 Angels. Yes, spring training has barely begun, so these types of proclamations may be premature, to put it lightly, but having followed all of Billy Eppler’s offseason acquisitions, as well as having seen the home run abilities of the returning Halos, I think this team is going to put up some sick HR numbers.
First off, how’d the 2016 Angels team do, historically speaking, in the home run category? Well, they finished the year with 156 swozchompers (this is another term for “home run”, that I just made up on the spot), which was good for 25th best in all of Major League Baseball. So basically bottom of the barrel when it comes to tagging balls with all of the barrel (although that was good enough to finish at 19th when stacked up against every other Angels season home run tally)
This season, I think we’re going to see that number go up quite a bit. Just as a reference point, let’s take a look at the 2017 Angels ZiPS projections. If these projections turn out to be right on the money, then the Angels are looking at about 163 homers. That’d be a pretty good if we’re looking at Angels franchise history, as it’d put them close to the top 10 in season home run totals. It’d still be lackluster, though, compared to what other teams will most likely end up with.
So, how’d ZiPS break it down, and where can we do some educated fudging of the numbers? Well, they have Mike Trout hitting 35 dingers, which is probably going to be right on the money...but he did hit 41 just the year prior. Albert Pujols is slated for 28 homers, which again is probably a safe bet, give or take 3 or 4 bombs. I think after those two, we get into some guys who have modest projections, but who could also totally shatter those projections.
Kole Calhoun is going to hit 25 or more dingers in 2017, book it. As for C.J. Cron, if he’s healthy and isn’t starving for playing time, then I can see him hitting 25 homers, too. New 1B/3B/2B/DH Luis Valbuena has the pop to get to 20 homers, if he doesn’t go down to the DL for an extended period of time. Danny Espinosa, the new Angels 2B, has a lot of bad habits at the dish, and can be quite frustrating, but if there’s one thing he brings to the table, it’s home run ability.
I don’t think it’s out of the realm of possibility that we see Cron, Espinosa, Calhoun and Valbuena all hitting 20+ jacks in 2017...in fact, I think that’s exactly what’s going to happen. Put those four low-key sluggers in the mix with the bankable home run power of Trout and Pujols, and you’ve got an Angels team with SIX batters with 20+ homers. Add in the rest of the team (again, let’s just go off of those ZiPS projections), along with my wishful thinking here, and you’re looking at a (hypothetical) Angels team that hits about 187-190 dongs in ‘17.
If they can do something in that ballpark, then we’re talking about a team that will finish in the top 15 or top 10 in homers for the year, and a top 5 team in terms of all-time Angels season records (the most HRs by any Angels team was the 2000 squad, who hit 236). Of course, it’s sort of hard to imagine the Angels having six guys with 20+ homers, considering it’s never been done in franchise history. They’ve had five guys hit 20+ in a season a few times (the aforementioned 2000 team, plus teams in 1961, 1982 and 1995), which definitely sounds more doable.
So how crazy am I to think that we may see one of the better home run-hitting Angels teams in franchise history this season? It hasn’t even been that long since we saw a team like that...you only have to go as far back as 2012, when the Angels hit 187 home runs. Can the Angels get back into the home run swing of things this season? I think they’ll impress us in this category, so if you’re all about the dingers, then you may be in for a treat.
Get the fireworks ready, and cue up “Bro Hymn”.