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89-73, third place in American League West
What the Angels Need to Happen in 2013
The Angels have put all their eggs in a select few baskets. They needed to find starting pitching help after losing Zack Greinke and Dan Haren, yet the only significant move was to get Tommy Hanson, whose average fastball velocity was less than 90 mph last season (per Fangraphs).
When it became clear that the starting market wasn't going to swing in their favor, the Angels decided that the best defense would be a good offense and signed Josh Hamilton to play alongside Mike Trout and Albert Pujols.
Even if Trout isn't as good as he was in 2012, a likely scenario given his historically great debut season, he will still be one of the five best players in baseball. Pujols isn't the best pure hitter in baseball anymore, but he is still good for 30 home runs and a .280 average with good defense.
Hamilton is a huge gamble, because he can carry a lineup when he is on fire but looks like he belongs in Triple-A when he loses focus. The Angels have to score a lot of runs to win, so he has to be the player he was in April and May for Texas last year, not the one who hit .259/.323/.510 in the second half.
Since scoring runs will only take you so far, the Angels have to hope that Hanson can give them more than the 4.48 ERA he had in 174.2 innings with Atlanta last year.
The Angels are also paying C.J. Wilson like he is a No. 2 starter. For the first three months of the season he fit that bill, posting a 2.43 ERA in 111 innings up to the All-Star break. Things fell apart in the second half, as his ERA ballooned to 5.54 and he gave up 143 baserunners with 13 home runs in 91 innings.
It was revealed after the season was over that Wilson was dealing with bone spurs and underwent surgery to correct the problem, which does help explain his problems after the break.
We know that Jered Weaver is an ace and will figure into the Cy Young conversation, but someone has to step up behind him to at least give the Angels a potent duo at the top of the rotation. Innings eaters won't get the job done against teams like Texas and Oakland that can hit home runs as well as anyone in baseball.
Keep an eye on the back of the bullpen, as well. Ryan Madson is still working his way back from Tommy John surgery last season. Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com reported that Madson will throw his first bullpen session on Monday since he was shut down in early February.
If Madson struggles at all when he does eventually debut during the season, the team could turn back to Ernesto Frieri. He saved 23 games for them last season but faded in the second half with a 4.50 ERA and lost the closer's job late in the season.
What Could Go Wrong?
With so much emphasis placed on the offense, if one of Trout, Pujols or Hamilton struggles, it will be hard for this team to push runs across the board.
It should be noted that I don't include Mark Trumbo in this group because his first half last season masked his overall performance. He didn't change anything about his approach at the plate, just had more luck on balls in play and hit .306/.358/.608 with 22 home runs before the break.
The player Trumbo was in the second half, with a .227/.271/.359 slash line, is closer to the kind of hitter he is. He has more power than that, but his on-base percentage was about in line with what he is going to be as a hacker with no patience who strikes out more than 150 times in a season.
Pujols and Hamilton are the two big concerns, with the latter being more problematic than the former. Pitchers can exploit Pujols' diminished bat speed with velocity inside, yet he still slugged .516 last year.
Hamilton is an enigma. He can be the best power hitter in baseball one month, then fall off the cliff the next. You never know what exactly you are going to get.
If Weaver misses time again this season or doesn't pitch up to his lofty standards, the Angels are going to have even more rotation problems than it looks like they will if everything goes as expected.
The bullpen could easily fall apart if Madson's elbow acts up during the season and Frieri's second-half numbers are more in line with the kind of pitcher he is going to be.