July Update: Easily the biggest news that involves any individual MLB player, Mike Trout has yet to commit toward playing this season. His first child is set to be born in August and the situation has his availability for the season up in the air. This makes Trout a really risky pick in fantasy drafts. If he does end up opting out of the season, there would be a tremendous impact on the Angels’ odds to win the division, their win total and the current MVP odds. Trout (+200) is currently the favorite to win American League MVP and a ton of value opens up in long odds players if he doesn’t play.
The Angels made a big splash in the offseason by signing Anthony Rendon. This addition combined with Shohei Ohtani being totally healthy means that Mike Trout is finally going to get to play with talent around him. The Angels should have a top offense, although the pitching is likely going to be a bit sketchy. Ohtani figures to be on an innings limit and it’s hard to have a ton of faith in any of the other starting pitchers. This is going to mean the Angels are going to play in a ton of high-scoring games this season.
— Division Winner: +700
— League Winner: +2000
— World Series: +4000
Trevor Cahill, SP; Kole Calhoun, OF; Kevan Smith, C; Zack Cozart, SS
Anthony Rendon, 3B; Julio Teheran, SP; Dylan Bundy, SP; Jason Castro, C; Matt Andriese, RP
2020 Fantasy MVP
Mike Trout, OF
This isn’t too complicated. Trout is the MVP of everything. He’s the reigning American League MVP and favored to repeat, so I am not sure we can really consider another player as even close to the fantasy MVP of the Angels. The only question regarding Trout is if he should be the top pick in drafts. For me, the answer is yes. By most rankings, people are either looking at Trout or Ronald Acuna as the first overall pick. This seems to be the case every year. Trout or Acuna this year is like Trout or Christian Yelich last year and Trout vs Harper from previous years. There’s one constant and that’s Mike Trout. There’s no reason to get too creative and he’s the most reliable player for fantasy and real life purposes. In addition, this is arguably the best situation he’s ever been in since the Angels added Anthony Rendon in the offseason. This is the most talent Trout has ever had around him.
2020 Fantasy LVP
Julio Teheran, SP
Moving to the American League, it’s hard for me to envision Teheran finding much success. He may have put up a 3.81 ERA last year, but all his underlying numbers suggest regression is coming. Teheran had a 4.66 FIP and a career-worst 5.26 xFIP. Not only did he outperform his peripheral stats a year ago, he’s going to be forced to face a DH as opposed to a pitcher this season. I also have concerns about how well he’s aging. Teheran’s velocity has been on the decline for the past few seasons and he reached a career-low average of 89.94 mph on his fastball in 2019. This is a scary downward trend when considering that his average fastball velocity was 96.51 mph when he first got called up the big leagues.
2020 Breakout Player
Andrew Heaney, SP
A former top prospect and first round pick in the 2012 draft, Heaney has always shown promise. His biggest issue has been his health. Due to injuries, he’s only made more than 18 starts in a season once in his entire career. Coming into the season with a clean bill of health, I like his upside this season. There is also a better chance that we see Heaney make it through a full season since it’s likely going to be shortened. Despite getting knocked around last year and finishing with a 4.91 ERA, there was one big positive to take away. Heaney struck out 11.14 hitters per nine innings. In addition to his strikeout upside, there is reason to think Heaney should allow less runs this season if his HR/FB rate normalizes. His 18.3% HR/FB rate was the worst of his career for any season with at least five starts. Heaney is also in line to rack up more wins since the Angels’ offense should be one of the most potent in baseball. Five solid innings should be enough to get him wins more often than not this season.
The Angels play in a tough division. The odds suggest they are fighting an uphill battle to win the AL West competing against the likes of the Houston Astros, but I think this team is a dark horse to win the division. Obviously, having the best player in baseball, Mike Trout, is a huge plus and he should have another monster year as he’s surrounded by more talent than ever before. Even if the Angels don’t win the division, this is still a team that I think has a strong chance to win the Wild Card. Another thing to consider: This team is likely going to be buyers at the deadline and could add depth to their thin pitching staff. At +4000 odds to win the World Series and +700 odds to win the division, this team looks a bit undervalued.
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