The Angels have some dark days ahead. Yes, they have not reached the postseason since 2014. They have not had a winning record since 2015. And while it probably goes without saying, they just lost the best player on the planet as he moved across town.
Those seasons were not fun to begin with, when the Angels still had the two greatest players of this generation and couldn’t capitalize, despite attempting to make winning moves each offseason. But now Mike Trout is aging and constantly injured, and with the loss of Shohei Ohtani plus a weak farm system, the Halos may have it rough for a while.
Do this year’s ZiPS projections, produced by Dan Szymborski of FanGraphs, reflect the same message for 2024? Let’s dive in.
Key Position Player Takeaways
- Mike Trout is barely projected to reach 3 fWAR. ZiPS is under the assumption that Trout will once again miss time this year, projecting 382 plate appearances in 89 games. While his projected slash line is still phenomenal (.257/.366/.511 with a 136 OPS+), he has played 100 games just once since 2020 and has appeared in 140 games only once since 2017.
- There is no player projected to have a better year than Trout. In other words, no other Angels are projected to have a 3-fWAR season. That includes both hitters and pitchers. Logan O’Hoppe comes in second with a projected 2.4 fWAR
- ZiPS is excited about Logan O’Hoppe. On that note, the former top prospect got off to a hot start in his age-23 season, highlighted by an .886 OPS through April 20. Unfortunately, a torn labrum sidelined him until the middle of August. He ultimately finished 2023 with 111 OPS+ and 14 bombs across 51 games. ZiPS projects that O’Hoppe will deposit 21 home runs with a 124 OPS+ as long as he stays healthy.
- Nolan Schanuel will be a contributor. The Angels 2023 first-rounder is famous for playing just 22 games in the minor leagues before making his MLB debut in August, less than two months after he was drafted. Despite his limited experience, ZiPS likes his bat. The system projects the Florida Atlantic product to post 16 home runs, 37 extra-base hits, a .792 OPS and a 118 OPS+ in 2024.
- The baseball world has given up on Anthony Rendon. ZiPS projects the veteran third baseman to have just 233 plate appearances in 55 games played. His projected numbers are nothing to scoff at (.775 OPS, 114 OPS+), but in the end, that is just not what the Angels are paying him $35 million per year to do. Between his injuries, decline in production, and overall views on the game of baseball these days (which ZiPS obviously does not take into account), it does not appear that the Rendon of old is ever coming back.
Key Starting Pitcher Takeaways
- Not a single starting pitcher is projected to have a sub-four ERA or FIP. ZiPS believes Patrick Sandoval will be right at a 4.00 ERA with a 4.12 FIP, and he is slated to be the best arm of the group. That doesn’t exactly scream confidence in the Angels rotation.
- Reid Detmers is a mid-to-back-end starter right now. This is not what he was supposed to be when the Angels selected him 10th overall in 2020. Yet after a promising 2022 campaign, Detmers regressed to a 4.48 ERA and 1.35 WHIP in 2023. He is only entering his age-24 season and has plenty of time to grow, but ZiPS believes he will end the year with a 4.28 ERA and a 102 ERA+.
- Tyler Anderson isn’t living up to his contract. After making an All-Star appearance in 2022, Anderson plummeted back to earth – but not before inking a three-year, $39 million deal in Anaheim. He posted a 5.43 ERA in 2023, and ZiPS leans towards his 2022 season being the outlier, not the norm. The system believes Anderson will struggle again in 2024, projecting a 4.56 FIP and a 95 ERA+.
Key Relief Pitcher Takeaways
- Only one bullpen arm is projected to have a sub-four ERA. Newcomer Robert Stephenson leads the pack with a projected 3.23 ERA and 3.39 FIP, and ZiPS believes incumbent closer Carlos Estévez will put up a 4.25 ERA and a 4.16 FIP. Meanwhile, Matt Moore, returning on a one-year deal, is projected for a 4.32 ERA and 4.44 FIP. Last year, the Halos ranked 25th in bullpen ERA and 29th in bullpen FIP. Things look a little better right now, but not by much.
- Ben Joyce is not close to being an elite bullpen arm. The young righty is projected to toss a larger sample of innings this year (43.2), but ZiPS believes he will possess a 4.74 ERA, a 4.79 FIP and a 93 ERA+. Joyce has ridiculous stuff, averaging 101 MPH on his fastball, but the ability to consistently command his pitches will make or break his ability to be an effective reliever.
- The offense will flash upside at times. Between Trout, O’Hoppe, Taylor Ward and Zach Neto, there are still some exciting bats on the Angels roster, many of whom are on the very young side. This core of players will stick together for a while, but they have to continuously make strides at the plate as a unit to get the team back into contention.
- It is going to be a forgetful season in Anaheim. This team simply doesn’t have anything close to the type of rotation or bullpen they would need to compete. Additionally, the offense is far too incomplete at the moment. There will be growing pains for the Angels in 2024.