The Angels made one of the biggest splashes in free agency this offseason when they signed Anthony Rendon to a massive 7-year/245 million contract. This is a massive upgrade for the club that has been looking for another franchise player to pair with Mike Trout for quite some time after a few failed attempts. Albert Pujols’s career regressed pretty drastically once he came over to the Angels and Justin Upton, who was a great addition, is merely a very good player, not a star. After stealing Rendon away from the Washington Nationals, they didn’t stop there, and signed Julio Teheran and traded for Dylan Bundy. They almost acquired Joc Pederson from the Dodgers in the four-team Mookie Betts trade, but that fell apart after the Brusdar Graterol failed physical. I would have loved to see Pederson on the Angels as he would have been a substantial upgrade over Brian Goodwin.
Nonetheless, adding these 3 players plus getting Shohei Ohtani back for the full should add a full 10-plus win to their record. They are still at least 1 high-end starting pitcher and another star bat away from truly competing in a division with the star-studded Houston Astros and well-balanced Oakland A’s. Expect to see the Angels win 83-85 games this season (obviously, the season may be cut short due to the corona virus). The Angels have 7 guys that are locked to be drafted in the top 300 selections but have 11 players that could contribute to your fantasy teams this year. As always I will breakdown what to expect from this year and where they are being drafted
Anthony Rendon (ADP 20): There are very few players that are as well-rounded as Rendon. He is an absolute stud. This is a huge upgrade as 3B for the Angels as they were fiddling around with David Fletcher, Tommy La Stella, and Luis Rengifo last season. He should be a 5-plus fWAR upgrade from last year. I remember scouting him when he was in college and there was absolutely no doubt that he would be a superstar in this league. Last year, during his contract year, he certainly didn’t disappoint. He had a career year while winning the World Series. Producing at a 154 wRC+ clip and winning a World Series should get anyone a massive deal and it should be well worth it. Even though his ADP is at 20, I would not be opposed to seeing him go as high as tenth in drafts as I expect to see him outperform his projections for the year as they are rather conservative.
ZiPS Projections: .276/.363/.499 with 26 HR/97 RBI/89 R with a .358 wOBA
Shohei Ohtani (ADP 129): We are all excited to see Ohtani return to full health as there has not been a 2-way star-like Ohtani in a long time. After the Astros scandal this offseason, Ohtani will be a great story line throughout the season. From a fantasy baseball perspective, you really have to make sure to supplement his offensive production since he will be pitching every so often this year. Ohtani is a unique player as he hits groundballs as a very high rate (49-plus percent) and has a low launch angle (6-plus degrees), which contributes to his high BABIP (.350).
However, when he hits a fly-ball, he is hitting it out of the park 30% of the time. Ohtani can absolutely crush the ball (25% LD rate) which leads to him being top 5% in the league in exit velocity (92-plus mph). His wOBA and xwOBA lined up at years end and I expect to see similar production from him this year. From a pitching perspective, I really have no idea how often he is going to pitch with the very likely shortened/congested season. If they decide to play double headers at an increased rate this year, expect to see even less of Ohtani on the mound. There is no doubt that Ohtani has filthy stuff, but just be wary of drafting him as high as he is being drafted, as that is mostly correlated with his 2-way status.
ZiPS Projections: .282/.344/.518 with 21HR/71 RBI/58 R/11 SB and a .357 wOBA
Pitching ZiPS Projection: 69IP/5 wins/3.89 ERA/3.85 FIP with a 10.77 K/9 and a 3.76 BB/9
Tommy La Stella (ADP 287): Well, his value got absolutely shot when they signed Rendon as 39% of his starts came at 3B last year. I am just not sure if they will find the at-bats for him this year for him to be a top 300 pick. If they didn’t sign Rendon, I would’ve expected a large uptick in playing time and he would be drafted a bit higher as he put up stellar numbers last year with his .351 wOBA in 300-plus PA. Will, he split time with Fletcher at 2B? I suspect Fletcher, who is the superior defender to get much more playing time there. Will they give him some playing time at 1B with Pujols getting older and regressing substantially? I am guessing they will not with pressure to play Pujols given his “superstar” career status and salary. I don’t foresee him playing much in the outfield either. They have Upton/Trout/Goodwin locked in for this year, Fletcher also seeing time in the OF, and La Stella has never played there in his career.
If he does get the playing time and gets 400 PA, he could turn out to provide solid value at this ADP, but there are huge question marks coming into this season with where they will find him at-bats. My best guess is that he sees some time at 1B and splits time at 2B with Rengifo and Fletcher at 2B. If this is the case he is not worthy of being drafted this year even in a deep mixed-league.
ZiPS Projections: .268/.321/.401 with 8 HR/32 RBI/35 R and a .296 wOBA
David Fletcher (ADP 306): Even though Fletcher started 74 games at 3B last year, he was in the lineup almost every day and can play almost anywhere on the field. Expect to see the majority of his playing time at 2B this year. Just with La Stella, his value is up in the air, with his playing time still in question. They had a lot of injuries last year with Upton and Ohtani out for periods of time and he was their “main” 3B, so he was able to finagle his way into the lineup in multiple ways.
Given his defensive value, my inclination is that he will be the starting 2B and should be given more consideration for a late-round draft pick than La Stella. However, even though you should consider him more than La Stella, he is not going to be very productive for you anywhere this year in your lineups. I will be steering clear of both him and La Stella in my drafts. I would much rather take my chances on someone with more boom/bust potential.
ZiPS Projections: .270/.317/.365 with 6 HR/48 RBI/72 R/10 SB and a .295 wOBA
Hansel Robles (ADP 156): Robles may not have the strikeout ability that Josh Hader or Aroldis Chapman has, but he is a reliable closer. There were only 11 closers that had 30 saves last year, but over a full season (if we have a full season this year), Robles would be on my shortlist of bubble candidates to hit that mark. As the 17th closers being drafted, he might provide you with better value at an ADP of 156 than taking one of the top tier closers in the first 100 picks of your drafts.
ZiPS Projections: 68 IP/23 SV/3.84 ERA/4.02 FIP with a 9.66 K/9 and a 3.44 BB/9
Dylan Bundy (ADP 227): Bundy was a solid pickup for the Angels in the offseason. He clearly has not lived up to his hype after being fourth overall pick in the 2011 draft. Over the last 4 seasons, he has been a consistently average starting pitcher for the Orioles, but he exactly the type of pitcher the Angels should take a gamble on. If they believe they can tweak his fastball for the better, which has been a huge issue for him, then he could provide for great value at his ADP. He is a 5-pitch pitcher that has had sustained progress in his secondary pitches over the last 4 years, but major leaguers are crushing his 4-seamer. I don’t love his ADP if things stay the status quo, but he might just be worth the risk at this point in the draft.
ZiPS Projections: 156 IP/10 wins/4.56 ERA/4.59 FIP with a 9.35 K/9 and a 3.00 BB/9
Julio Teheran (ADP 306): The 29-year old has been slowly, but surely, regressing over the past few years and it was pretty evident last year. He has completely outperformed his peripherals recently and even though he has always had a low BABIP, I am not buying that he can continue to pull that off moving forward. Even though he had a huge jump and increased production in his wFB from last year, that was more of a fluke than it was a tweak in his approach and mechanics. I would put Teheran on my DND (Do Not Draft) List.
ZiPS Projections: 165 IP/10 wins/4.68 ERA/5.31 FIP with an 8.60 K/9 and a 3.97 BB/9
Justin Upton (ADP 194): A few months ago, I wouldn’t have been opposed to slapping Upton with the “bust” label, but really had no facts to back up this claim, other than him about to turn 33 years old, coming off an injury-plagued season, and a gut feeling. Not the smartest way to analyze a player. After digging a little deeper, even though he strikes out at an absurd rate (30%), which he has always done, he has been one of the better power producers in the league recently.
The 3 years prior to 2019, he was in the top 5% in the league in Barrel %, xwOBACON, and HH%. Given his ADP, and if he comes back fully healthy, he could actually be a huge bargain for your fantasy teams this year. Especially with Trout, and now Rendon in the lineup, I expect him to see more men on-base opportunities. If he hits in front of Rendon, he could see more pitches to actually drive and drive deep. Take a chance on Upton returning to form and you might get a huge value return on his draft price.
Boom or Bust
Andrew Heaney (ADP 196): I might be incredibly biased, or actually, I am incredibly biased, when it comes to Heaney, as I am with most guys that were drafted during the time I was a scout with the Blue Jays. I thought it was a huge steal when he was acquired in the 3-team trade that sent Howie Kendrick to the Dodgers and Dee Gordon to the Marlins back in 2014. Even though Heaney hasn’t developed into the all-star pitcher that I believed he would, and never developed his secondary pitches which were so promising, he is still an incredibly talented pitcher in real life. He has just never put it all together.
In fantasy, I am not in love with him even with his elite strikeout potential. At this point in the draft, you are definitely looking for a solid, consistent SP4 and even though Heaney flashes signs of brilliance, he is inconsistent as it comes. He has games where he just crumbles, racking up his pitch count, waking guys, and given up extra-base hits. He definitely has that quality of a boom/bust player that I do look for in players, but buyer beware when it comes to Heaney. He could drastically outperform his ADP or he could be that pitcher you wish you didn’t roster. Lastly, just a heads up, ZiPS is slightly more conservative on his projections than others in terms of his IP and wins.
ZiPS Projections: 133 IP/8 wins/4.13 ERA/4.04 FIP with a 9.88 K/9 and a 2.44 BB/9
Mike Trout (ADP 1.6): I honestly have more fun writing about players like La Stella or Upton because at least there are some questions marks and stats to analyze when writing. With Trout, not so much. He is the best player in the league and there aren’t any signs of regression or even progression. Mike Trout should and will be the first pick off the board. He is one of the GOAT’s in baseball history.
Justin has been a DFS pro for 5 years now, focusing primarily on NHL and MLB. He has won numerous tournaments on Draft Kings and FanDuel and has made it to multiple live finals for hockey. Prior to becoming a DFS pro, he was an associate scout for the Toronto Blue Jays.