It’s time for our Depth Chart Discussions to begin. In an effort to suss out every team, we’ve divided them into four parts (infield, outfield, bullpen, and rotation) and will begin breaking them down for you over the next few weeks. You can find them gathered here.
On the one hand, the Angels outfield is almost guaranteed to be among the best in the league. However, depth is an issue now that Josh Hamilton’s future is in question. If Mike Trout lands on the disabled list – and it will eventually happen – the entire club could go from the division favorite to fighting for a Wild Card berth.
With David Wiers rambling about spirit animals on a daily basis, I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out the animal theme of this outfield. Trout’s the easy one, but then there is Hamilton and Cowgill. Calhoun is a ‘D’ away from participating. Anywho, let’s dig in.
Some players are so good (and so well known), that it feels unnecessary to provide analysis. Unless you’re Zach Sanders, Trout is the top player on your draft board. The stolen bases have trailed off as he focuses on more valuable parts of his game. Even so, he’s a five category monster.
The Angels once again return enough firepower to protect him in the lineup and give him a shot at over 100 runs and RBI. Jeff Sullivan has written about such flaws as Trout possesses – namely high fastballs. Here is Jeff’s latest.
Now that the league knows how to attack Trout, expect his BABIP to continue a downward trend towards league average. A 26 percent strikeout rate despite a low 7.4 percent swinging strike rate hints at a de-optimized approach. I’d like to see a little more aggression within the strike zone. It’s almost heartening that the very best has room to improve.
A five category sleeper last season, Calhoun began the year on the disabled list. Upon returning, he seized the top spot in the lineup where he hit .272/.325/.450. The speed didn’t show as well as we hoped, but he could be a surprise contributor in that category. Don’t count on it.
He’s not a prototypical leadoff hitter since he has neither blazing base running ability nor a high OBP. He does have solid power, with the ability to blast 15 to 20 home runs in a full season. For now he’s a rare mid-draft source of runs and power. If he slides down the order he could improve his overall value with a more classic power-RBI profile.
Here’s where the depth issue becomes apparent. Hamilton is out for some unknown amount of time. He’ll need a minimum of a month to rehab from injury, but he could be suspended for an additional period. I’m sure you know why, and I’d rather skip that discussion.
When he’s on the field, he’ll have to contend with a bevy of breaking balls. Pitchers have thrown more and more benders past Hamilton, and he’s shown no signs of adjusting. He’s heading in a downward trajectory that is reminiscent of Ryan Howard. He might be an expensive, part time player when he returns to action.
While he’s out, Matt Joyce and Collin Cowgill are expected to benefit. At least one of Grant Green or Daniel Robertson should also make the roster. Joyce is a pure platoon hitter – one whose power declined while his whiff rate spiked last season. The 30-year-old could bounceback, but he might also be on his away out of the league. We should know soon.
Cowgill reminds me (slightly) of Craig Gentry. He hits pretty well against left-handed pitchers and provides good defense. He’s not as gifted as Gentry afield or on the base paths, but he has a hint of power to compensate. He’s a good fifth outfielder. Fantasy owners can stream him on occasion.
The Angels love Green. They’ll probably use the former A’s prospect as a super utility man. Don’t expect any fantasy production. If Robertson makes the club, he offers seemingly great contact skills (3.3 percent whiff rate in a small sample) and speed. I’d like to see him get an extended look, just to see if he can be a poor man’s Ben Revere for a couple seasons.
You can follow me on twitter @BaseballATeam