|Fantasy Take: The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim||| Print ||
Written by Daniel Paulling (Contact & Archive) on March 17, 2006
The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim have been a fairly solid team lately, putting great players on the field. Usually, most of their players get picked in mixed leagues. They feature one of the best overall hitters in the game, along with a few solid starting pitchers and relievers.
The Top Tier
OF Vladimir Guerrero – He has so many nicknames: Vladdy Daddy, Vlad the Impaler, The Best Overall Player in the American League. But the Angels’ right fielder lives up to the hype. In fantasy drafts, I’ve been saying to pick Guerrero fourth (A-Rod, Pujols, and Teixeira in the first three slots). He’s a pleasure to own and a pleasure to watch in the field. Draft him and watch him put up .320/35/110 with enough runs and stolen bases to make him one of the best all-around players in the Major Leagues.
RP Francisco Rodriguez – In terms of overall fantasy talent, closers don’t have much value. When compared to other closers, K-Rod stands out in pretty much a league of his own. He puts up just as many saves as other guys, as low of an ERA as other players, and strikes out opposing hitters like none other. This Venezuelan contributes in all fantasy categories as a closer.
2B/SS/3B/OF Chone Figgins – The Angels’ haven’t really given him an everyday job, but Figgins manages to rack up years of 642 at bats. He’s a utility player who plays every day. And when he does, he steals bases -- 62 of them last year, to be exact. He adds in a good batting average, a few bombs (usually in the ten range) and a lot of runs scored. Because of his position eligibility, Figgins deserves to be ranked among the best in fantasy baseball.
The Second Tier
OF Garret Anderson – Mr. Anderson is a fine ballplayer, and an even better person. However, he has declined so much since his breakout seasons earlier in the 21st century. At age 34, he’s an old man, but we can still expect a .290 average with 25 homers and 80 RBIs and the same shy Garret Anderson.
SP Bartolo Colon – It was a hard choice, but I decided to put last year’s American League Cy Young Award winner in the second tier. His 3.48 ERA left a little bit to be desired, but he won 21 games, struck out a fair amount of hitters, and pitched a lot of innings. We shouldn’t expect a lower ERA than that, and we should also expect a few injuries, like to his lower back. These are the only two things keeping him out of the highest tier.
SP Kelvim Escobar – An injury to Escobar limited him to only seven starts, but he still put up some good numbers: three wins, 3.02 ERA, and more than one strikeout an inning. This right hander did very well in the 2004 season, his last healthy season, striking out 191 over 208 innings. We should expect more of that this year.
SP John Lackey – Did you know he had the fifth highest K/9 ratio in the junior circuit last year? Well, he did. Lackey only lacked wins last season, while putting up great strike out numbers, innings pitched, and ERA. We should expect more of the same from him this year, because I think he’s developed to the point that he belongs in the second tier. And his luck will even out, and he’ll win a few more games this season.
The Third Tier
2B Adam Kennedy – With Howie Kendrick breathing down his neck, we might see a little less playing time for this scrappy infielder. However, if he has the every day job, Kennedy should put up a near-.300 average, ten homers, and sixty RBIs. These rough estimates are pretty good for a shallow position, second base in the American League. However, I’d watch where I pick this guy, because there might be more valuable bats out there.
OF Juan Rivera – In only 350 ABs last year, this outfield/DH hit .271 with 15 homers. Extrapolate that for an entire season, and we could expect a .270-ish average with 25 homers and 70 RBIs. These should be considered valuable, and he’ll come cheaply in the late rounds of your mixed league draft.
RP Scot Shields – It’s strange to list a non-closer as a valuable fantasy player, but in head-to-head leagues, Shields is great. The 31-year-old right hander struck out more batters than K-Rod, albeit in more innings. He got 21 decisions (10-11), a huge amount for any relief pitcher. There are some starters who don’t get that many. For those of you in deep leagues, he’ll give you a few saves, strikeouts, and a low ERA. Draft him!
The Question Marks
SS Orlando Cabrera – The former Red Sox shortstop came over with much fanfare, but he never really lived up to expectations. A .257 batting average with only eight homers and 57 RBIs aren’t that impressive. I probably should have left him off this list entirely, but I still think he can put together one more decent season, because the talent is definitely there. Will this be the year?
1B/OF Darin Erstad – The Angels’ franchise player from a few years back, Erstad is reaching the end of his contract. That means we should expect a big year when he goes back to the outfield. While his glory days are way past him, we could reasonably expect a .290 average, 12-15 homers, and 15-20 stolen bases, which are valuable fantasy numbers if you know when to pick him. The question surrounding him is, Will he ever return to the good form he once displayed.
1B Casey Kotchman – I touted him in my recent “young players to watch” article as being a first baseman who will put everything together this year and let his talent flow. He’s only 22 years of age, so Kotchman has time to put the pieces of the puzzle together. In the minor leagues, he once got more walks than strikeouts, which shows he has a great eye; players don’t lose that kind of thing in transition. Angels’ coaches say he is lifting the ball more in spring training, so look for some more power, high average, and a lot of RBIs batting sixth or seventh in that Angels’ lineup. The question is, Can he stay healthy.
SP Ervin Santana – Last season, Santana took over for the injured Kelvim Escobar and didn’t embarrass himself in his first exposure to Major League hitting. He won 12 games in 23 starts. This right hander will be given an every fifth day job, so let’s see what the kid can do. He strikes out enough hitters to be valuable to your team, but might get a few lumps in the ERA department. What should we expect from this young pitcher is the only question I have concerning him.