Angels fans will finally get their chance to see their newest player! It must have been torture to sign Anthony Rendon and then have to wait through the long MLB delay. The addition of Rendon should help a solid team with as good a chance as any to run into some playoff dreams. The question for fans, of course, is how often will the core players see the field at the same time?
Along with the Trout situation, toss in two injury-recoveries in Tommy La Stella and Shohei Ohtani, and the lineup questions become even more cloudy. Meanwhile, Albert Pujols, Justin Upton, Jason Castro, and Andrelton Simmons are moving further away from 30 years-of-age.
The delay and shortened season will impact the Angels unlike any other team and they may be forced to raid the taxi squad more than other teams.
(Last Updated: July 1, 2020)
60-Game Season Update
Let’s start with the biggest concern heading into drafts right now—how many games Mike Trout will play this season?
It will not be 60, we know that for sure. He and his wife are expecting their first child to be born in August, and Trout will be there for the birth. Ordinarily, a player would miss three days for paternity leave, but quarantine protocols might mean additional time away from the field. This is extremely problematic for fantasy managers since each game in a shortened is 2.7 times as valuable as in a full season. We have to dock Trout, at least, three games. What if he has to quarantine after and/or before the birth? In theory, he could miss anywhere between 3-28 days. That’s a tremendous impact to a fantasy season.
It is tough to speculate, but plan for Trout to miss, depending on the schedule, a minimum of two games with the possibility of four, depending on double-headers. The known time off bounces Trout out of the top three draft positions and perhaps out of the first round. If he requires a quarantine, he drops numerous rounds and he could drop out of the top-100 overall. We will continue to update this as it develops, but draft Trout as you feel comfortable with the information we have and don’t get bogged down worrying about what might happen. Fortunately, Trout is an elite player and there is elite talent around him in drafts. At this point, know the situation and know that there may be risky value if his draft position falls.
Now let’s examine some of the players who benefit and are hurt by the MLB delay, the new rules for 2020, and the shortened season.
Tommy La Stella is a perfect example of the power of a two-month sample. He played just 86 games in 2019 before a knee injury ended his season and dashed his hopes of his first All-Star Game. In those 86 games, he slashed .300/.353/.495 with 16 home runs, 49 runs, and 44 RBI. That is extraordinary production from a second baseman whose NFBC ADP was 738.La Stella has been given three additional months of recovery time from his broken leg (he fouled a ball off his right tibia). As such, he should get regular playing time at second base and the hope is that he can get somewhere close to his production in 2019. As the leadoff hitter, La Stella will be hitting in front of Trout and Rendon, so expect him to score a lot of runs, but be aware that Luis Rengifo and David Fletcher will be ready to step into plate appearances if La Stella struggles or isn’t at 100% health.
Speaking of Fletcher and Rengifo, both were not supposed to be regular contributors in 2019, but gained playing time when injuries stuck La Stella, Zack Cozart, and Andrelton Simmons. Both Fletcher and Rengifo were passable contributors, but are clearly second fiddle to the Angels’ regulars. The addition of Anthony Rendon won’t help Fletcher see regular PT at third, but he could see time in a shortened season to give rest days. While neither is really draftable for fantasy outside of deep leagues, both should continue to rotate in and out of the lineup throughout the year and could be helpful in daily leagues as multi-position eligible players to be slotted into active roster slots.
I wouldn’t expect to see Jo Adell start the season in the majors. Teams gain an extra year of service time if they keep rookies down for the first seven days of 2020. Brian Goodwin isn’t going to stop Adell from playing if the rookie can prove that he is ready to contribute by succeeding against big-league pitching. The seven lost games will hurt fantasy managers, but someone in your league will draft and stash Adell until he gets the call. It is risky to stash him, because of the tremendous need fantasy managers will have for active players. If there is any doubt that he gets that promotion, you have to be ready to drop him and move on, because each day out of the lineup could be devastating to fantasy production.
Shohei Ohtani is back, baby! One of baseball’s more interesting and fun players is expecting to be fully ready following Tommy John Surgery. Ohtani is planning to be a part of the Angels’ six-man rotation and DH on days not following or preceding his starts. As a two-way player, scheduled days off really hurt his ability to generate fantasy production, but his speed-power combo is enticing. Depending on the league settings, Ohtani’s fantasy contributions vary wildly, so check out Alexander Chase’s article, Fantasy 101: How to Value 2-Way Players, for details. Be aware, however, that Ohtani’s absences from the lineup have a much larger impact in a shortened season and rostering him in weekly leagues is going to induce a lot of headaches.
With each passing year, Albert Pujols trends further down. It’s sad, really, to see one of the games greatest players wither before our eyes, but time comes for all of us. With Shohei Ohtani headed back to the mound once every six days, Pujols should get a few more games at DH, but the over-40 first baseman will not play every day, and cramming 60 games into 66 days will have to get Pujols more frequent days off.
Brian Goodwin and Justin Upton are most at risk of losing playing time if/when Jo Adell is promoted to the big club. Goodwin put up a passable .262/.326/.470 with 17 home runs, seven stolen bases, and combined for 112 runs and RBI last season. Upton struggled with injuries and played just 63 games slashing .215/.309/.416. If either outfielder struggles and Adell shows that he is capable, Joe Madden will rotate one, or both, out of the lineup.
|1||David Fletcher (R)|
|2||Mike Trout (R)|
|3||Anthony Rendon (R)|
|4||Shohei Ohtani (L)|
|5||Albert Pujols (R)|
|6||Justin Upton (R)|
|7||Brian Goodwin (L)|
|8||Max Stassi (R)|
|9||Andrelton Simmons (R)|
|1||Tommy La Stella (L)|
|2||Mike Trout (R)|
|3||Anthony Rendon (R)|
|4||Shohei Ohtani (L)|
|5||Albert Pujols (R)|
|6||Justin Upton (R)|
|7||Brian Goodwin (L)|
|8||Andrelton Simmons (R)|
|9||Jason Castro (L)|
Original March Edition
- ADDITIONS: Anthony Rendon (3B), Jason Castro (C)
- OPTIONS: N/A
- SUBTRACTIONS: Justin Bour (1B/DH), Kole Calhoun (OF), Zack Cozart (SS/3B), Kevan Smith (C)
Jason Castro (C | Batting 8th)
2019 (275 PA): 39 R, 13 HR, 30 RBI, 0 SB, .232 AVG/.332 OBP/.435 SLG | C #29 (per ESPN Player Rater)
2020 Early Mock ADP: Undrafted
Mitch Garver’s offensive breakout last year completely overshadowed the fact that his backup in Minnesota, Jason Castro, was experiencing a renaissance of his own. After posting fairly mediocre quality-of-contact numbers for most of his career, Castro flashed a 17% barrel rate last year. This was the eighth-highest barrel rate in baseball, sandwiching Castro between Mike Trout and Yordan Alvarez on the leaderboards. Pairing this newfound power with his historically good line drive rates, Castro set career-highs in xBA and xSLG. His wOBA (.328) was also well below his xwOBA (.364), meaning despite the above-average offensive output for a backup catcher, he likely underperformed. The only drawback to Castro’s newfound power was the toll it took on his contact ability, as his 65% contact rate and 15.6% swinging strike rate from last year were career-worsts and well below the league average. Still, if Castro can retain these power gains, the catcher job is all his now that he’s in Anaheim. He could prove to be a very valuable catching option that will be available for practically nothing in drafts this year.
Strengths: HR, R
Weaknesses: AVG, OBP, Points
Castro retains the huge quality-of-contact improvements he made in 2019 while racking up 500 plate appearances, allowing him to approach 30 homers with a batting average around .240.
The batted ball improvements he made last year don’t stick, and he returns to being a guy with a league-average barrel rate and poor contact skills, making his .220 average and mid-teens power unpalatable for those in shallow leagues.
2020 Projection (500 PA): 65, 25 HR, 60 RBI, 0 SB, .230 AVG/ .330 OBP/. 485 SLG
Max Stassi (C | Batting N/A)
2019 (147 PA): 7 R, 1 HR, 5 RBI, 0 SB, .136 AVG/.211 OBP/.167 SLG | Unranked (per ESPN Player Rater)
2020 Early Mock ADP: Undrafted
Max Stassi is primarily known for his defensive prowess and framing ability, not his bat. He served mostly as a backup catcher in 2019, and will likely return to that role in 2020 after the team signed Jason Castro this offseason and Kevan Smith elected free agency. He’s a poor hitter at best and completely unrosterable at worst.
Weaknesses: AVG, RBI, R, SB, Points
Stassi remains in line to be the team’s primary catcher and provides mid-teens power with a poor batting average over the course of the season.
Stassi’s hitting woes continue, and the Angels release him.
2020 Projection (150 PA): 12 R, 3 HR, 15 RBI, 0 SB, .200 AVG/.270 OBP/.320 SLG.
Anthony Rendon (3B | Batting 4th)
2019 (646 PA): 117 R, 34 HR, 126 RBI, 5 SB, .319 AVG/.412 OBP/.598 SLG | 3B #2 (per ESPN Player Rater)
2020 Early Mock ADP: 20.7
Anthony Rendon seems to get a little better every single year. In 2019, Rendon set career highs in AVG (.319), wOBA (.413), barrel rate (12%), hard-hit rate (46.6%), and contact rate (88.3%). It’s hard to fathom how he could improve upon those numbers, but he’ll be just 29 years old heading into the 2020 season, and there’s a chance we’ve yet to see his true ceiling. Hitting behind Mike Trout should provide a nice boost for Rendon this year, though that benefit may be mitigated by the fact that he’ll be moving from Nationals Park, one of the better offensive ballparks in baseball, to Angels Stadium, which consistently rates as neutral to hitters. Still, Rendon is the rare hitter who pairs elite plate discipline with top-tier contact ability and blistering hard contact, making him an incredibly safe pick in the first couple of rounds of fantasy drafts. If he’s able to avoid the minor injuries that have kept him from appearing in more than 150 games the past three years, he very well could be in line for his best season yet.
Strengths: PA/AB, AVG, OBP, R, HR, RBI, Points
Rendon appears in over 150 games for the first time since 2016 and has his best overall season yet, hitting close to 40 home runs with a .300 average and well over 100 RBI and 100 runs.
Rendon gets off to a slow start while getting accustomed to a new league and home ballpark. He fails to appear in over 150 games for the fourth straight season due to injury, and fails to justify being chosen as a top 20-30 pick in drafts.
2020 Projection (620 PA): 100 R, 35 HR, 115 RBI, 5 SB, .305 AVG/.405 OBP/.590 SLG
Andrelton Simmons (SS | Batting 9th)
2019 (424 PA): 47 R, 7 HR, 40 RBI, 10 SB, .264 AVG/.309 OBP/.364 SLG | SS #42 (per ESPN Player Rater)
2020 Early Mock ADP: 297
A Grade 3 ankle sprain and a foot injury robbed Andrelton Simmons of a significant amount of at-bats in 2019, and he never seemed to find his groove offensively. Simmons is elite at making contact and avoiding strikeouts, as he’s posted a career 5.7% swinging-strike rate and 8.9% strikeout rate. This makes him a safe bet for a high batting average, though where his power and speed settle will determine how much of a fantasy asset he is. His defensive prowess will keep him in the lineup, and if the stars align, he could hit .290 with 15 homers and 15 stolen bases. But that’s hardly something owners should depend on.
Strengths: PA/AB, AVG, SB, Points
Weaknesses: HR, RBI
Simmons stays healthy, elevates the ball more, and gets some batted-ball luck on the way to a 15/15 season with a .290 average.
Simmons continues his ground-ball-heavy ways, resulting in a suppressed BABIP and home run totals, and making him unrosterable in shallow leagues.
2020 Projection: 75 R, 10 HR, 60 RBI, 10 SB, .280 AVG/.320 OBP/.385 SLG.
Matt Thaiss (3B | Batting N/A)
2019 (164 PA): 17 R, 8 HR, 23 RBI, 0 SB, .211 AVG/.293 OBP/.422 SLG | 3B #89 (per ESPN Player Rater)
2020 Early Mock ADP: 522
Stepping in to fill the void left at third base by Tommy La Stella, Matt Thaiss flashed some decent power in 2019. The elite plate discipline he was known for in the minors carried over as well, as he posted a 10.4% walk rate. However, when he did swing, he struggled to make contact, and with Rendon now in the fold, there likely won’t be many opportunities for Thaiss to improve in the area.
Strengths: HR, OBP
Weaknesses: PA/AB, AVG, Points
An injury opens up playing time for Thaiss, and he becomes an asset in OBP leagues.
Thaiss returns to the minors to begin the year or serves primarily as one of the team’s backup infielders.
2020 Projection (150 PA): 15 R, 6 HR, 15 RBI, 0 SB, .245 AVG/ .345 OBP/ .440 SLG
David Fletcher (2B/3B | Batting 2nd)
2019 (653 PA): 83 R, 6 HR, 49 RBI, 8 SB, .290 AVG/.350 OBP/.384 SLG | #22 2B (per ESPN Player Rater)
2020 Early Mock ADP: 369.5
David Fletcher’s 653 plate appearances led the team in 2019, and the sheer amount of at-bats he took makes the fact that he finished the year with a .290 average all the more impressive. Fletcher, like many hitters in the Angels lineup, is incredibly adept at not striking out, as he posted just a 9.8% strikeout rate last season. This, paired with an excellent line-drive rate, gives him a safe floor in batting average, and as long as he hits toward the top of the lineup, he should score plenty of runs. The problem lies in the fact that he doesn’t have any other standout tools, so Fletcher is probably only worth a look if you need to offset a poor batting average from someone else on your roster. With the addition of Anthony Rendon, he also may lose out on at-bats to Tommy La Stella at second base.
Strengths: AVG, R, Points
Weaknesses: HR, RBI
Fletcher is the Angels’ leadoff hitter, putting him in line to score upward of 90 runs while posting a .290 average and chipping in a handful of homers and steals.
The BABIP gods abandon him, and his batting average drops, costly him regular playing time and making him not worth rostering in any format.
2020 Projection (450 PA): 65 R, 6 HR, 55 RBI, 8 SB, .285 AVG/ .340 OBP/ .380 SLG
Tommy La Stella (1B/2B/2B, Batting 1st)
2019 (321 PA): 49 R, 16 HR, 44 RBI, 0 SB, .295 AVG/.346 OBP/.486 SLG | #43 3B (per ESPN Player Rater)
2020 Early Mock ADP: 333.5
La Stella has historically always posted excellent contact rates throughout his career, but in 2019 he paired that elite batted-ball ability with an uptick in hard contact and launch angle to unlock a bit of power too. Unfortunately, a fractured tibia cost La Stella a large chunk of the season. He’s presumably healthy heading in 2020. However, with the signing of Anthony Rendon, it’s unclear where he slots on the team’s depth chart. In all likelihood, he’ll form a dual platoon with David Fletcher at second base and Albert Pujols at first base. If he can piece together regular at-bats, and retain the power gains he showed last season while continuing to put the ball in play at an elite level, he could be an excellent table-setter for the Angels and a steal in fantasy drafts in 2020.
Strengths: AVG, R, RBI, Points
La Stella locks down the starting second base job and retains his newfound power, posting an excellent batting average and counting stats while hitting roughly 20 homers.
The power gains from 2019 were a fluke, and La Stella turns back into a barely rosterable infielder who won’t help much outside batting average.
2020 Projection (300 PA): 50 R, 8 HR, 40 RBI, 2 SB, .280 AVG/ .330 OBP/ .420 SLG
Albert Pujols (1B | Batting 7th)
2019 (545 PA): 55 R, 23 HR, 93 RBI, 3 SB, .244 AVG/.305 OBP/.430 SLG | #27 1B (per ESPN Player Rater)
2020 Early Mock ADP: Undrafted
It’s hard to believe that Pujols was able to rack up 93 RBI in 545 plate appearances in 2019 despite hitting just .244 in an anemic Los Angeles lineup. It just goes to show how hitting behind Trout and Ohtani can work wonders for a guy’s fantasy output. Despite being 39 years old, Pujols is still incredibly gifted at putting the ball in play, as he posted just a 12.5% strikeout rate last year. Unfortunately, the fact that his ankles are held together by chewing gum and duct tape means that he can’t take advantage of all those batted balls, as seen by the fact that his BABIP hasn’t eclipsed .265 in seven years. Considering how shallow first base is this year, Pujols might have some value in deep leagues. But for the most part you should probably stay away.
Strengths: PA/AB, RBI, Points
Weaknesses: AVG, OBP, R
Pujols stays healthy and racks up over 100 RBI with 25 home runs and a .250 average.
Injury and/or old age crater Pujols’ ability to stay on the field, and he’s not fantasy relevant in any format.
2020 Projection (300 PA): 35 R, 11 HR, 42 RBI, 1 SB, .240 AVG/.290 OBP/.410 SLG
Mike Trout (OF | Batting 2nd)
2019 (600 PA): 110 R, 45 HR, 104 RBI, 11 SB, .291 AVG/.438 OBP/.645 SLG | OF #4 (per ESPN Player Rater)
2020 Early Mock ADP: 1.6
Though some will argue Christian Yelich and Ronald Acuna Jr. had better 2019 seasons than Trout, few can dispute that Trout’s track record of elite offensive production makes him the safest player to own in fantasy baseball. Trout set a new career high in home runs in 2019, swatting 45 in just 134 games. He only stole 11 bases, his lowest total since 2015, but that could be attributed to hip and foot issues that he battled all year, the latter of which cost him the final few weeks of the season. If there’s one weakness in Trout’s game, it may be durability: He’s now missed at least 20 games in three straight seasons. Still, he’s so good that he can outproduce most players in the league even when he misses time. Draft him No. 1 overall with confidence.
Strengths: PA/AB, AVG, OBP, R, HR, RBI, SB, Points
Trout stays healthy for the entire season, eclipsing 50 homers, 20 stolen bases, and winning the AL batting title.
Trout’s nagging lower body injuries return, and he misses time for the fourth consecutive season.
2020 Projection: 115 R, 42 HR, 110 RBI, 20 SB, .300 AVG/ .435 OBP/ .630 SLG
Justin Upton (OF | Batting 5th)
2019 (256 PA): 34 R, 12 HR, 40 RBI, 1 SB, .215 AVG/.309 OBP/.416 SLG | OF #154 (per ESPN Player Rater)
2020 Early Mock ADP: 193.5
A broken toe cost Upton over three months of playing time to start the year, and patellar tendinitis in his right knee resulted in his being shut down in mid-September. Prior to 2019, Upton was known as a hitter who could contribute in every standard fantasy category, with the occasional exception of batting average. Whether he can return to being a solid all-around contributor in 2020 remains to be seen, but he could return plenty of value in drafts this year if his injury-plagued 2019 dampens his stock enough.
Strengths: PA/AB, OBP, R, HR, RBI
Upton’s lower-body injuries are behind him, and he returns to being a hitter who can provide good counting stats, above-average power, some speed, and a serviceable batting average.
Upton’s 2019 campaign was the beginning of his decline, and he fails to both stay healthy and make much of an impact when he’s on the field.
2020 Projection (580 PA): 75 R, 28 HR, 85 RBI, 7 SB, .255 AVG/ .340 OBP/ .460 SLG
Brian Goodwin (OF | Batting 6th)
2019 (458 PA): 65 R, 17 HR, 47 RBI, 7 SB, .262 AVG/.326 OBP/.470 SLG | OF #76 (per ESPN Player Rater)
2020 Early Mock ADP: Undrafted
Brian Goodwin put together a solid offensive season for the Angels in 2019, posting perhaps the quietest 109 wRC+ in the league. With Kole Calhoun’s option having been declined, Goodwin is likely in line for full-time at-bats in 2020, barring any major free-agent signings by the Angels. The average may come down a bit, but nothing else about his performance last year seems particularly flukey, and if things break right, he could produce 20+ homers and mid-teens stolen bases with solid counting stats, depending on where he ends up slotting into the lineup.
Strengths: PA/AB, R, SB
Goodwin secures a full-time role in the Angels outfield and produces at an above-average level in all five standard fantasy categories.
Goodwin slides back into a part-time role due to a big free-agent signing and doesn’t garner enough at-bats to be worth owning in anything shallower than a 16-team league.
2020 Projection (450 PA): 50 R, 14 HR, 55 RBI, 8 SB, .255 AVG/ .320 OBP/ .461 SLG
Jo Adell (OF | Batting N/A)
2019 minors (341 PA): 54 R, 10 HR, 36 RBI, 7 SB, .289 AVG/.359 OBP/.475 SLG
2020 Early Mock ADP: 164.5
Jo Adell is the fifth-best prospect in baseball according to MLB Pipeline’s most recent prospect rankings, and many are speculating that Adell could be recalled within the first few months of the season if he gets off to a hot enough start in the minors. The early returns suggest he could use a bit more seasoning at Triple-A, but Adell has been pegged as a very toolsy player with 70-grade power who could easily make the strides he needs to in short order and push for a starting role in the big leagues.
Strengths: PA/AB, R, HR
Adell gets off to a hot start in Triple-A, is recalled after the Super Two cutoff, and plays out the rest of the year as the Angels’ right fielder, contributing in all five standard fantasy categories.
Adell struggles out of the gate in the minors, and the Angels elect not to promote him until later in the summer, extinguishing any hope of his making a fantasy impact.
2020 Projection (300 PA): 35 R, 12 HR, 35 RBI, 8 SB, .260 AVG/ .330 OBP/ .410 SLG
Shohei Ohtani (DH | Batting 4th)
2019 (425 PA): 51 R, 18 HR, 62 RBI, 12 SB, .286 AVG/.343 OBP/.505 SLG | DH# 18 (per ESPN Player Rater)
2020 Early Mock ADP: 54
Ohtani missed the first few weeks of the season due to his recovery from Tommy John surgery, and the last few weeks of the season due to knee surgery. However, when he was on the field he was an offensive force and an above-average contributor across the board. With Ohtani returning to the mound again in 2020, you have to wonder how conservative the Angels will be with his usage as a hitter. In all likelihood he will be benched about twice a week, which severely hinders his upside as a hitter. But if your league allows you to deploy him as a pitcher as well, the fact that his at-bats will be limited is likely a pill you’re more than happy to swallow.
Strengths: AVG, OBP, HR, SB, Points
He’s able to accumulate close to 500 plate appearances as the Angels’ designated hitter, contributing in all five standard fantasy categories and giving you elite pitching performances in leagues where he’s a two-way player.
The Angels handle Ohtani very conservatively, benching him every game that he pitches and at least once a week to allow him to get adequate rest. As a result, his total number of plate appearances takes a big hit, and he becomes difficult to justify spending a high pick on in weekly formats and leagues where he only qualifies as a hitter.
2020 Projection (450 PA): 55 R, 20 HR, 65 RBI, 12 SB, .280/.350/.530
Playing Time Battles
The big question with the Angels’ lineup is the mystery surrounding the deployment of Tommy La Stella and David Fletcher. In all likelihood, they’ll share time at second base, with La Stella picking up additional at-bats at first base and third base when Rendon and Pujols need a breather. The Los Angeles outfield should be comprised of Upton, Trout, and Goodwin from left to right, with Jo Adell taking over for Goodwin as soon as he proves he’s ready.
|1||Tommy La Stella||1B|
The Angels have three of the best hitters in the sport in Trout, Rendon, and Ohtani. Unfortunately, the rest of their lineup is mostly made up of league-average complementary players and aging veterans with durability issues. Adell could inject some life into the team’s offense after his promotion, and Upton could have another above-average season left in the tank. But despite the strength of the heart of their order, things are going to have to break right for the Angels to be a true top-tier offense in 2020.
Photo by John Cordes/Icon Sportswire | Adapted by Justin Paradis (@freshmeatcomm on Twitter)