The 2016 Angels had many problems, but could you really point to the lineup and say “that’s the biggest issue right there”? Well, I suppose you could, so maybe that’s a bad question. They had their problems, don’t get me wrong, but in regards to things that sunk their season, the hitting would probably be on my list, but after things like major injury issues or rocky pitching. Will 2017 be any better? Yes. Yes, I think it will be better, but “will it be enough?” is a whole other matter.
The 2016 Angels hitters did do a few things correctly. They finished in the league-wide top ten of categories like AVG (9th; .260), wRC+ (9th; 100), and overall fWAR (9th;21.6) while also having the lowest K% of any team (16.4%). However, they were lacking in plenty other areas; they were near the bottom in terms of team OPS, and were one of the weakest in terms of homers hit, plus they had to dealt with the near-bottom-of-the-barrel BABIP.
Did they fix some issues? Well, they SHOULD get some more slugging out of new Halo Luis Valbuena, along with his plate patience, but he’s starting off the season on the DL. Danny Espinosa should help add some dingers, but while he’s said recently that he’ll be trying to lift up that ugly average, I’ll believe it when I see it (but wouldn’t that be huge?!). Cameron Maybin and Ben Revere SHOULD be an improvement at LF, and while Maybin has had a cold spring, I’m hopeful that he can continue the hitting he showed last year with the Tigers (I’m also crossing my fingers for a Ben Revere comeback season).
If anything, this team should hit a lot more home runs, and who doesn’t love the long ball? I wrote about that topic heading into spring, and I still think that this team is locked and loaded with some dinger fire power. Beyond that, there are a lot of things that need to click into place if they’re going to keep up with the offenses of the AL West.
C.J. Cron needs to have a standout season. Albert Pujols needs to be healthy and doing Albert Pujols type things; the more vintage Pujols the better, please. Valbuena needs to get healthy, as well, and bring that bat into the lineup, whether it’s at 1B or 3B, and Yunel Escobar needs to just keep on doing what he did last year.
Andrelton Simmons has improved his batting in Anaheim, so maybe the same will happen with his defensive counterpart, Danny Espinosa. Kole Calhoun has become quite the hitter, and we can expect some more solid production out of him in 2017.
Oh yeah, and they have a guy named Mike Trout, who is a force of nature in a baseball uniform.
It’s a lot of “if” and “maybe” but that’s the beauty of Opening Day; there is endless potential there, it just needs to be realized. But the lineup, as we can surmise it’s going to be constructed, will certainly have the juice to score some runs and do some damage. If Mike Scioscia and hitting coach Dave Hansen can get these guys focused and if they can use the pieces correctly, they’ll have something powerful on their hands, and us fans will eat it up and beg for seconds.
This Angels lineup has some good hitters, make no mistake. They just need to be healthy, they need to be utilized correctly, and they’ll need to give us their best output, not taking any days, or ABs, off. If they can do that, then the pitching staff will be properly backed up; we all know the arms are going to need all the help they can get.
So, without further ado, here’s what I think the Opening Day lineup is going to be for the Angels in 2017:
2017 Angels Opening Day projected lineup
Of course, once Valbuena is back to playing baseball, that will change some things up and give Scioscia more room to tinker with the lineup, but until then, Cron will be in that 1B spot most of the time, I’d guess. Plus, we’ll see Ben Revere some, when they need another lefty bat in the lineup, and this also doesn’t account for the Jefry Marte factor. Other than that, looks like what we’ll be seeing in a week, no?
The order itself will be a hotly debated topic around these parts, as Sosh is prone to driving us mad with how guys are used, but that’s just Sosh being Sosh, right?
So, how are you feeling about the Angels’ lineup in 2017?