It was a near perfect 82-degree day in Surprise, AZ as division rivals Texas and the Angels from Anaheim went head to head. Opinions of MLB baseball handicappers are changing about the Halos for this upcoming season.
Or I should rephrase that, Los Angeles is holding steady while Seattle’s MLB odds are becoming shorter and are being thought of as not only a threat to the Angels but a team who could pass them up for the AL West crown.
Here are thoughts on this team as Opening Day draws closer, exciting those who are ready to make MLB picks.
Los Angeles Angels – Projected Win Total 88 wins – 1st in the AL West
The Angels were the top scoring team in baseball a year ago at 4.7 runs per game and were 98-64 (+21.1 units), which was the best record in the big leagues. The offense went cold at the wrong time scoring just six runs in being swept in the playoffs by Kansas City.
However, if you plan to make sports picks versus the betting odds this campaign, there is still plenty to like about Mike Scioscia’s team in the AL West division race. Los Angeles knows what to expect from Mike Trout and Albert Pujols. Thus far in spring Trout has returned to trying to hit the ball to right and right-center, looking to reduce significantly his strikeout total of 184. While Pujols is not the same player he was in St. Louis, most players would still love to put up his numbers.
The rest of the outfield looks solid with Kole Calhoun and Matt Joyce between Trout. David Freese may never have that one big year he had with the Cardinals, but he can certainly do better than last season and Erick Aybar is a staple at shortstop.
Second base is the weakest spot on the team, with Jeff Rutledge the best glove-man and Grant Green the better hitter.
The starting pitching is a little iffy, but if Matt Shoemaker can duplicate last year in terms of performance (3.04 ERA) if not wins (16) and C.J. Wilson pitches to his contract, with talented Andrew Heaney on board and Garrett Richards slated to return relatively soon into the season, matched with Jered Weaver, this could be a very good staff.
No doubt Seattle is on the rise, but unless several players have off years, hard to imagine the Angels do not win 90 games and return to the postseason.
Game Notes: Los Angeles Angels vs. Texas Rangers
The Angels might have gotten clobbered 15-8 but the middle of their lineup looks ready to go now. Trout is hitting over .450 this March and Pujols had a home run and sac-fly, driving in two runs.
Heaney started the Halos and exhibited a very smooth delivery. Over the first four innings he got pitches up and allowed hits but just one run. In the fifth inning, he ran out of gas and gave up two home runs, not being able to finish the inning. Not sure how accurate the scoreboard radar gun numbers were, but was surprised to see Heaney’s fastball at 88-90 MPH.
Hurlers Matt Lindstrom and Kurt Spomer looked like batting practice pitchers as they combined to allow 10 runs on nine hits in the seventh inning.