Los Angeles Angels: Why the 2011 Halos Will Bounce Back and Win the AL West

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Los Angeles Angels: Why the 2011 Halos Will Bounce Back and Win the AL West
Jeff Gross/Getty Images
Can the Angels win the AL West in 2011 after a rough 2010?

Angels fans did not have much to cheer about last season.

Following a trip to the ALCS in ‘09, the 2010 Halos stumbled to an 80-82 record and missed out on the postseason.

I predict the Angels to return to form and win the division. Improved pitching, fielding and hitting will be the main catalysts.

 

Pitching     

The Angels are expected to have a great starting rotation.

Weaver, Haren, Pineiro and Santana have all proven they can get the job done. Scott Kazmir is coming off a disastrous year and will be on a short leash. If Kazmir continues his downward spiral, look for the Angels to add one of their young arms—possibly Trevor Bell—to the rotation.

The Angels silently made two offseason signings to strengthen their bullpen, adding left-handed relievers Scott Downs and Hisanori Takahashi.

The closer role should be filled by Fernando Rodney. Rodney saved 37 games for the Tigers in ’09 and has the tools to be a 40-game closer.

 

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Fielding

While the starting catcher position is currently up for grabs, all of the options are a defensive upgrade over Mike Napoli.

Bobby Wilson and Jeff Mathis are the front-runners, but hot prospect Hank Conger could win the battle.

Juan Rivera and Bobby Abreu were defensive liabilities and their departure from the outfield is a plus. The emergence of speedy Peter Bourjos has moved perennial Gold Glove-winner Torii Hunter from center to right field.

Vernon Wells won a Gold Glove in both 2004 and 2006. While he isn’t getting any younger, he maintains the skills to be a great corner outfielder.

This could be the best outfield in the majors.

 

Hitting

Almost all of the Angels—with the exception of Torii Hunter—had a lackluster year at the plate.

A reversion to the mean is expected. Look for home runs, RBI and batting average to improve across the board.

Harry How/Getty Images
Kendry Morales breaks his leg while celebrating a walk-off grand slam

Kendry Morales suffered a freak, season-ending injury as he celebrated a walk-off grand slam last May. The Angels were left without their best offensive weapon and no one could fill his shoes. Morales should return to his 2009 form where he batted .306 and hit 34 home runs.

After whiffing on Carl Crawford and Adrian Beltre, the Angels’ acquisition of Vernon Wells left many dumbfounded.

The debate will rage whether he is worth his huge contract, but he will make an immediate impact. Vernon went yard 30 times in 2010 and will enjoy being on a competitive team that has a great fanbase.

While the Angels headed into last season as the three-year reigning AL West champs, 2010 was a season to forget.

The 2011 Angels return with stronger pitching, steadier fielding and improved hitting.

Expect the Halos to bounce back and capture the division once more.

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