In keeping with last year’s lead up to Opening Day, the staff at Halos Heaven staff has complied our predictions for the team’s record for 2018. Who do you think has it close? Who is way off? And what do you think the team’s record will look like once the season closes?
Jeff Joiner: I peg the Angels to be a high 80s win team. In fact, I set the over/under at 87.5 for my over/under series because I believe that is a fair number. The team won 80 games last year and will have a full year of Justin Upton in left to go along with Ian Kinsler and Zack Cozart on the dirt. Garrett Richards appears to be back to health and the rotation looks to have depth if not a lot of star power.
But the bullpen scares me a bit. Blake Parker had a great year in 2017, but I’ve seen lots of relievers have a great year and not follow it up. Middleton could emerge, Bedrosian always seems not to emerge, and most of the rest of the crew has been on waivers at some point in the last couple of years. Fortunately relief help is usually plentiful at the trade deadline and Eppler has some resources available this year.
Oh, and that Otani kid could be good or bad. I’m saying, for this year, good but not yet great.
Over/Under 87.5 wins and a nail biter for a playoff spot to the end.
Jessica DeLine: Last year the Angels fell just shy of .500 with 80 wins. Given the offensive upgrades and depth added by Billy Eppler this past off-season, there is no doubt the Angels are now a .500+ team. But how much better?
Offense aside, the bullpen is potentially worse from last year with the subtraction of Yusmeiro Petit and (1st half) Bud Norris. Blake Parker had a year he may not be able to repeat and Keynan Middleton was nails (at least during the first half) - what can he do in his sophomore campaign?
I think there are too many questions in the bullpen right now and with a rotation that has a long history of injuries, it’s cause for concern. There are also a lot of “what ifs” given this rotation. The Angels really need Richards to help carry this team the ENTIRE year. Heaney is already heading to the DL (likely) but hopefully not for long. Shoehei Ohtani may need months to adjust and there are questions down the rest of the rotation.
I think given a stronger bullpen and healthy rotation, you have an 88-90 win team here - especially if Ohtani and the rest of the staff can live up to their potential, but I’m just not seeing all those pieces align for an entire season right now. The offensive upgrades of Kinsler, Upton, and Cozart can only carry this team so far, which is why I’m going to peg their wins around 87 with a possible wild card spot.
Over/under: 86.5 wins
Jeffrey Tan: The Angels have made moves. There’s no question that the goal this season is playoffs or bust. However, for every good move they’ve made, there are still questions. How will Justin Upton and Kole Calhoun perform in the outfield? Does Zack Cozart even know third base? Will Albert Pujols be serviceable?
Most importantly, the bullpen hasn’t proven themselves. The stalwarts, Petit and Norris, are gone. Blake Parker has struggled in Spring Training. The back end is extremely sketchy. The rotation isn’t much better. Ohtani is a train wreck thus far. Other starters aren’t necessarily reliable either. I cannot in good faith say that we are making the playoffs without things breaking the right way.
Over/under: 84.5 wins
Rahul Setty: After a solid offseason full of stark improvements, Angels fans find themselves reveling in the glory of their winter additions. Ohtani, Upton, Cozart, Kinsler, and Rene Rivera all constitute significant improvements over their predecessors, and the Angels filled every large hole off their bucket list. With that, though, comes the hype-train of every national writer, and with that hype comes big expectations.
The pitching side, in particular the question marks surrounding health, makes it difficult to project them as anything more than a high-80s win team. Shohei Ohtani will take more time to adjust, and the bullpen should be competent enough to not be a weakness. Having said all that, there is genuine excitement around this team and that’s not something that can be said of Angels teams in recent years. This is the best Opening Day roster of an Angels team in over a half-decade.
Over/under: 87.5 wins
Carlos Feliciano: The surprise signing of Shohei Ohtani appeared to have a residual effect on Billy Eppler’s ability to build a competitive roster. With a core built around Ohtani, Mike Trout and a returning Justin Upton, it was easy to convince Ian Kinsler to waive his no-trade clause and play for a team he admittedly once hated. A similar sales pitched convinced All Star shortstop Zack Cozart to move off the only position he has ever known to play third base in Anaheim. The line-up is as rock-solid as we have seen during the Mike Trout era. The defense might be the best we have ever seen. We just need Garrett Richards to make 30 starts while Shohei at least holds up his end of the bargain on the rubber, and this team will be in business.
Over/under: 85.5 wins
Rick Souddress: Let me preface this by saying that I was a big fan of Eppler’s offseason. Eppler made all the right moves at all the right times with all the right players. A starting pitcher might have helped solidify the rotation, but I have to give Eppler a Mega-A for his flawless execution of the rebuild-contend simultaneity plan that the majority of us thought impossible.
Disclaimer out of the way, it may or may not be enough to contend in one of the strongest divisions in the MLB. The Astros are still a powerhouse and the A’s have added to an already sneakily terrifying lineup. The Mariners are already enduring injury mania and the Rangers are probably going to finish last, but they are probably going to be the best looking 4th and 5th places in the game. I’m hoping beyond hope that the same waiver wire luck and clutchness of 2017 go hand-in-hand with the offseason acquisitions that the Front Office made. However, I’m concerned that the Angels played so far over their heads in high leverage scenarios last season, that we might have an unrealistic expectation of where the team is in an even stronger division. I think maybe we’re one year away; I hope maybe we’re there.
Over/under: 84.5 wins