Leading up to the start of the 2017 Regular Season, Diamond Hoggers will preview each of baseball’s 30 teams . Today’s preview features the Anaheim Angels. Stay tuned until Opening Day as Diamond Hoggers previews every team one by one until the beginning of the 2017 season.
We’re going to start out by saying, Mike Trout has kind of moved into the place of Ken Griffey Jr. as the greatest living player of our lifetime. He’s right there. Griffey didn’t remain in one uniform in his career – and although we got to enjoy his twilight in Cincinnati – it just never felt completely right after he was done wearing the Seattle Mariners cap.
We hope and pray for a different fate for Mike Trout. There’s virtually nothing on the web about Trout’s future with the Anaheim Angels after his contract runs out in 2020. That means the Angels have 2017, 2018, 2019, and 2020 with Trout before potentially seeing the greatest player I’ve ever seen wear skin walk out the door and into another big league city and uniform.
The problem is, the 2017 Angels; the current assembly of the roster by GM Billy Eppler feels like our modern day Mickey Mantle (Trout) and a bunch of guys.
Sure there’s Kole Calhoun, Cam Bedrosian, Garrett Richards (fresh off injury), aging-Albert Pujols. But around that, the cast to support Trout is not becoming of a division winner.
The Angels did the smartest thing they could do to try to remain competitive: they built around the foundation of defense. If you didn’t realize the names of Danny Espinosa, Andrelton Simmons, Ben Revere, Cameron Maybin added up to something; well that’s what it adds up to. The guys measure out well defensively. Even Pujols, Trout and Calhoun are positives with the leather.
The team hopes to be able to win a bunch of low scoring ballgames and you might even see an American League team try to manufacture some runs. Their division mates like Oakland will gift them some wins; but it could be tough sledding against the likes of the Houston Astros, Texas Rangers, and Seattle Mariners.
Matt Shoemaker should be a solid option in the rotation, but after that you have Tyler Skaggs, Ricky Nolasco, Richards on some type of innings limit, and either Jesse Chavez or Alex Meyer to round it out.
The pen has some decent options in the aforementioned Bedrosian (he needs to be closing), Andrew Bailey, Huston Street, Mike Morin, and Jose Alvarez among others.
But it’s hard to envision the Angels finishing 83-79 as Fangraphs does. If the Angels can somehow scrum up a ballclub around Trout and make some surprising runs in the next few years into the postseason, their odds of retaining him beyond 2020 improve slightly. And that’s what we’ll root for. This guy can’t ever wear another uniform.
He’s in his prime, he’s still just 25; and he’s fresh off his second Most Valuable Player Award. And that’s why you turn the television on and tune in. He’s still the most dangerous at-bat in the big leagues. He dominates the All-Star game every July. There isn’t a lot left for Trout to accomplish on a baseball field. He could win a Triple Crown, or a batting title. Or he could go 40-40. But we don’t want to see the same narrative go down as what happened with Griffey: playing out his seasons in a different uniform and having never appeared in a World Series game.
Here’s to a great 2017 for the Angels and Trout to where they overachieve and there are some optimistic scribes about the Angels possibly retaining him beyond 2020. We just aren’t hopeful of it.