If you haven’t noticed, the Angels outfield looks pretty nice. Now that we are at part 3 of the positional breakdowns, I can finally talk about Mike Trout and the rest of the crew. Here’s what the group shapes up to be:
LF: Justin Upton
CF: Mike Trout
RF: Kole Calhoun
Backup OF: Chris Young
Backup OF [minors]: Eric Young Jr.
Let’s get the Mike Trout gushing out of the way. Perhaps the best player in baseball, Trout has been a model of consistency and dominance. The scary thing for opponents? He’s just 27. His ridiculous track record includes 1040 hits in 3399 at bats, a career .306 AVG, 55.2 WAR, 200 2B, and 201 home runs. He doesn’t just change the game with the bat though. Trout has swiped 165 bags in 7 seasons, and plays a really solid center field. Obviously, we can expect more of the same from him in 2018. There’s no sign of decline, and he’ll get some much needed cushion in the lineup.
The person who will hit behind Trout is newly acquired LF Justin Upton. The veteran slugger had a breakout season with Detroit, before being traded to Los Angeles for Grayson Long. This offseason, he decided to forgo the opt-out and stick with the Angels for 5 more seasons. His 5.6 WAR season included 100 R, 35 HR, 109 RBI, and an above-average .362 OBP. Upton, despite some inconsistency, should be a big threat in the Angels lineup. His presence could take a burden off Albert Pujols’s shoulders and provide more at bats for Trout, who is a common choice to get walked.
The impressive outfield doesn’t just end at Trout and Upton. There’s also Kole Calhoun. Calhoun had a fairly pedestrian 2018, hitting a mediocre .244 with 19 home runs. There were some positives though. Calhoun still finished with a 2.1 WAR, making him a respectable outfielder. His power could see a spike in 2018, as the Angels have lowered their right field fence from 18 feet high to 8 feet high. It could make a small difference, or if he pulls the ball more, it could boost him to somewhere near 25 bombs a season. The one thing that has stayed impressive with Kole is his defensive ability. In 2016, Calhoun won a gold glove in right field, thanks to a 13.8 Ultimate Zone Rating and 6 DRS. He was up for the award again in 2017, but lost out to Mookie Betts (shocker!). If Calhoun can make adjustments to his hitting, the Angels outfield could be even better.
Now, the bench. The Angels recently signed veteran OF Chris Young to a major league deal, so he will presumably take the backup role. Young was a teammate of Upton’s in Arizona, so team chemistry seems to have played a role in the signing. Beyond that, Young has decent speed and power to bring off the bench. He has experience from New York (Mets & Yanks), Boston, Arizona and Oakland, with a career .237 AVG, 185 HR, 140 SB, and 577 RBI. He doesn’t figure to get a lot of playing time, but we could see him spot start here and there. If an injury were to happen, the Angels also have Eric Young Jr. Young Jr surprised last season, hitting a respectable .264 AVG, with 4 HR and 12 SB. He won’t put up ridiculous numbers, but his speed could make him an asset — whether he’s filling in, or being called up in September.
Mike Trout, Justin Upton, and Kole Calhoun make a formidable trio in the outfield. This coupled with prospects Jo Adell, Brandon Marsh, and Jahmai Jones, gives them great depth and talent. This year could be one to remember in Anaheim, and the outfield will certainly be in the highlight reels.
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(Image via CBSSports.com)