While Pujols struggled out of the gate, his midseason rebound, along with surprising seasons from Mark Trumbo and Torii Hunter, helped to turn the Halos into an offensive powerhouse. Meanwhile, the pitching staff underachieved, and the Angels missed the playoffs entirely. They finished third in the American League West and four games behind the leagues' two wild card teams, the Rangers and Orioles.
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|A.L. West||N.L. West|
This offseason, the Angels further bolstered their lineup by signing Josh Hamilton to replace Hunter (who departed for Detroit via free agency) in right field. Peter Bourjos may not be new to Anaheim, but he is a relatively unfamiliar face in the lineup, as he served primarily as a backup last season. With Kendrys Morales having been dealt to the Mariners for starting pitcher Jason Vargas, Trumbo will move from the outfield to the Morales' old designated hitter slot, creating an opening for Bourjos to get regular play.
Meanwhile, the Angels turned over three-fifths of their rotation, as free agents Zack Greinke and Dan Haren headed back to the National League and fifth starter Ervin Santana was traded to the Royals for minor league reliever Brandon Sisk. Their replacements, Vargas, Tommy Hanson and Joe Blanton, don't have the same level of star appeal, but each has had success at some point in his career. The bullpen got a minor makeover, as the Angels dealt one-time closer Jordan Walden to the Braves to acquire Hanson, and free agents Ryan Madson and Sean Burnett were signed. As soon as he is fully recovered from Tommy John surgery, Madson will take over closer duties from Ernesto Frieri, while Burnett will take on a setup role.
With the Angels falling short of the postseason in 2012, they will need the injury-prone Hamilton to stay healthy, the rotation to perform better than expected and for Madson to be a stable and effective closer. Though overlooked among the higher-profile moves, Madson's presence allows Frieri, Burnett and Scott Downs to provide bullpen depth that the team lacked last year. If everything falls into place, the Angels could deliver the championship run that they missed out on a year ago.
Sleeper ... Jason Vargas, starting pitcher
While Vargas was probably the less recoginzable name in the trade that sent Morales to Seattle, he will be more important to the Angels than Morales would have been this season. Whereas Morales would have had to fight for playing time in a crowded 1B/OF/DH mix, Vargas gives the Angels a much-needed reliable arm for their rotation. The seven-year veteran doesn't have electric stuff, but he walks few batters, pitches to contact and tends to allow flyballs. That's a perfect fit for homer-squelching Angel Stadium and the Angels' defensively-gifted outfield. He may not be a top 40 starter like he was last season, but as a late-round pick in standard mixed leagues, he could wind up providing tremendous value.
Bust ... Mark Trumbo, outfield/designated hitter
With 61 home runs over the last two seasons, there is no disputing that Trumbo can wallop a baseball. He can also drive in runs, but that just may be the extent of what Trumbo can do to help your Fantasy lineup. He's not especially prolific as a doubles or triples hitter, strikes out frequently, doesn't walk much and isn't much of a threat to steal. If Trumbo could strike out less often like he did in the minors, he could maintain or raise his batting average, but as last season wore on, he had more -- not less -- trouble making contact. Only a fluky-looking .299 batting average on grounders kept his overall average in the .260s. Trumbo may be more of a liability in the batting average and runs categories than you think, so don't reach for him prior to the middle rounds.
Rotisserie gem ... Peter Bourjos, outfield
Bourjos was a major stolen base threat as a prospect, so it's a bit odd that he has swiped only 35 bags in 299 career major league games. It's not as if Angels manager Mike Scioscia is shy about giving runners the green light, so perhaps 2013 is the year that Bourjos lets loose on the basepaths. His minor league track record also suggests potential for a higher batting average, so Bourjos could be a surprisingly useful player in Rotisserie formats. He doesn't walk much, though, and the probability of a low spot in the batting order will cost him at-bats. Both of these things will hurt his value in Head-to-Head.
The Angels have few prospects who are close to making an impact in the majors, but Nick Maronde could be an exception. The 23-year-old lefty made 12 appearances out of the Angels' bullpen last year, and he could fill that role again or serve as a starter if someone in the rotation needs replacing. ... Kaleb Cowart is at least a year away, but he is the Angels' top prospect among position players and can bring some power and on-base potential to the third base pool. ... First baseman C.J. Cron and outfielder Randal Grichuk also have a shot to arrive in 2014, but both are riskier options in long-term keeper leagues. Both players have to work on their plate discipline and need to prove they can hit for power outside of the California League.
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