Los Angeles Angels: A far too early look at the new guys

(Photo by Joe Scarnici/Getty Images)
(Photo by Joe Scarnici/Getty Images) /

The Los Angeles Angels have new faces, but how will they fare in their first year under the Halo?

This 2017-18 offseason has been very, very, very, good to the Angels so far. Billy Eppler and the Angels have upgraded in LF, 2B, 3B, and in the rotation with the additions of Shohei Ohtani, Ian Kinsler, Zack Cozart, and Justin Upton.

However, nothing in baseball is guaranteed, so it is fair to ask — how well will they perform in 2018? I think it’s time for the far too early, totally 100% accurate predictions for these new faces.

Ian Kinsler – 2B
Age: 35
Note: Acquired via trade from the Tigers for OF Troy Montgomery and P Wilkel Hernandez
2017 stats: .236/.313/.412, 22 HR, 52 RBI, 2.4 fWAR
Angels 2B in 2017:  .207/.274/.318, 15 HR, 72 RBI, -0.3 fWAR

We start with the guy who is the oldest of the new guys and the most familiar for us long time Angel fans. The former Texas Ranger is back in the AL West and seems very happy to be in Anaheim.

His 2017 slash line doesn’t look very pretty, and his age is definitely of concern. However, Ian Kinsler has never posted a season with a negative fWAR. The only time he put up less than 2 fWAR in a season was his rookie year, back in 2006. Kinsler has been nothing if not consistent, and I don’t see why he can’t continue to produce at the level we’re all accustomed to seeing out of him.

Even if he doesn’t, him standing out there with his glove on his head is better than what the Angels had out there last year.

My prediction: .258/.326/.424, 23 HR, 70 RBI, 2.8 fWAR

Zack Cozart  – 3B
Age: 32
Note: Signed a 3 year, $38 million contract
2017 stats: .297/.385/.548, 24 HR, 63 RBI, 5.0 fWAR
Angels 3B in 2017: .235/.313/.411, 32 HR, 107 RBI, 2.0 fWAR

So there are a number of things to discuss here. First of all, you might be thinking to yourself, “Wait, the 3rd baseman hit 32 HR? They got 107 RBI? Really?”

Technically, yes.

But only technically, because those are the stats of the 3 players who played third at least once this season: Luis Valbuena, Yunel Escobar, and Kaleb Cowart. Cowart hit 0 HR while playing 3rd, Valbuena hit .199, and Escobar was hurt most of the season.

So I understand why those numbers are confusing at first glance.

Secondly, there is absolutely no way Zack Cozart hits like he did in 2017 ever again. Yes you read that right.

Zack Cozart is not a near-.300 hitter, he never has been, he never will be again. So when you look up to the scoreboard and see he’s hitting in the .240s in mid-May, don’t be upset or worried, because that is much closer to reality. Cozart is known for having great defense, but given that he’s switching to 3B and has never played there before, he may have some trouble adjusting to the hot corner.

That being said, he is still a very solid ballplayer and, much like Kinsler, is shaping up to be an upgrade over what the Angels has in 2017.

My prediction: .253/.318/.417, 16 HR, 54 RBI, 2.8 fWAR

Shohei Ohtani – P
Age: 23
Note: Signed from Japan for $22m
2017 stats: .332/.403/.540, 8 HR, 31 RBI in 65 games as a DH; 3-2, 25.1 IP, 3.20 ERA, 29 K in 5 starts
Angels DH in 2017: .241/.286/.386, 23 HR, 101 RBI, -2.0 fWAR
Best Angels SP in 2017: 11-10, 147.1 IP, 4.15 ERA, 1.1 fWAR


Much has been said about Shohei Ohtani, and he hasn’t even thrown a baseball in America yet. So looking past the hype, we as a fanbase need to temper our expectations hard. He has UCL issues that he’s dealing with.

He is still recovering from ankle surgery. He has never faced major league hitting, and will also have to deal with major league pitching. While he has all the potential in the world, no one really knows how he’s going to perform.

So for these predictions, I’m going to let Fangraphs take care of it.

FG projections: 139 IP, 3.55 ERA, 161 K, 66 BB (I think his W-L record will be 14-10); .266/.328/.466 in about 200 PA

Justin Upton – LF
Age: 30
Note: Acquired via trade with the Tigers in August for P Grayson Long and a player to be named later; signed a 5 year, $106 million extension
Upton with the Angels in 2017: .245/.357/.531, 7 HR, 15 RBI, 0.9 fWAR
Angels LF in 2017 (including Upton): .250/.327/.372, 18 HR, 76 RBI, 3.0 fWAR

Yes I know he’s not technically a new face, but 2018 will be Upton’s first full season in the Angel uniform, so I felt it was fitting to include him here. Left field has been somewhat of a black hole for the Angels since 2011, with 32 different players taking the field in left in the last 7 seasons.

The best one of the lot? Josh Hamilton. Yes, our old friend Josh Hamilton was the best LF the Angels have had since 2011. Here’s hoping Justin Upton takes that spot from him, and produces somewhat near his 2017 levels (.273/.361/.540, 35 HR, 109 RBI across the full year).

I expect the power numbers and the OBP level to regress a bit, as well as the batting average, but there’s no reason to believe he won’t be the best LF the Angels have had since Garret Anderson.

My prediction: .252/.334/.465, 27 HR, 105 RBI, 3.2 fWAR

All in all, 2018 is shaping up to be the most exciting season since 2012, when the Angels signed Albert Pujols and CJ Wilson. Angels fans were ready to raise the World Series flag before the first pitch of 2012, but we obviously know how that turned out.

Next: Three Potential Trade Suitors For Matt Kemp

That is why this time around many of us are cautiously optimistic. So here’s hoping that our Halos, new and old, stay healthy, produce, and play some October baseball.