The Angels are my pick to win the WS. Now, that probably means they won't but I'm still picking them. Maybe it's because I'm a Yankee fan and I see the Angels totally own them in every series. Or it could be from my man-crush on Ervin Santana. Either way, I think this team is deadly. They're not flashy, don't have alot of big names, and they aren't controversial. But they play tight, smart, and fundamentally sound baseball. They make things happen. Here is a breakdown of this team, then my picks for the playoffs:
Pitching- The thing I love about the pitching is it's young and already has some experience. John Lackey could be the most underrated pitching in the A.L. Lackey is your classic workhorse pitcher. He always goes deep into games so he always gives your team a chance. He is a true ace. Very rarely does he bomb out(only against Boston). He throws about 95 with the heater but it's his pinpoint control that gets hitters out. And it's not like all he has is a fastball. His breaking balls are sharp. Too sharp to drive. Next, you have Kelvim Escobar. He has been very inconsistent throughout his whole career.Here is his ERA year by year:
This Year-3.25 ERA
But this year, everything has just worked out right. He has struggled a bit lately, but he has games where you can't hit him. HRs are his biggest weakness, even this year. Still gives up alittle too much. But with a 1-2 punch of Lackey and Escobar, it will be extremely tough to gain the upper hand in a short series. After these guys, you have Jered Weaver. He has been the opposite. He started off shakey but has rebounded after the All-Star Break. He's K to BB ratio is very good, but maybe too good. You should never throw too many strikes if you're a pitcher. Don't give the hitters that much to hit. The BAA against him is .282. That is too high if you're facing the Yankees, Red Sox, or Indians. And he might have alittle JEFF Weaver in him, which is not good. As long as he stays where he is comfortable, Jared will be alright and turn out to be a great pitcher. Then there is my man, Ervin Santana. He has had....lets just say...a rough year(also just got moved to the bullpen). The weird stat with him is the gigantic split between pitching at home and pitching on the road.
Home- 5-4, 3.44 ERA
Away- 1-9, 8.72 ERA
Those are really weird stats. I'm not sure what else those say besides that you can't pitch Ervin anywhere outside of Angel Stadium. Which limits his trade value. Something is wrong. I think it's mental. Those road #s are not just bad, they are so bad they jump out at you. He still has alot of talent. It will be very interesting to see what they do to him in the postseason and after. Bartolo Colon looks shot. He was rushed back, he's a big guy, and he's just getting old. The speed of his pitches has evaporated. If I was a team, I wouldn't deal with him(he is a free agent at the end of the year). And don't forget about Joe Saunders. He can starting or long-relief.
As you can see, the bottom of the rotation could use some work. But in the playoffs, 3 pitchers like Lackey,Escobar,and Weaver could be good enough. And it doesn't hurt that they have maybe the best bullpen in baseball. Francisco Rodriguez is dynomite. By the looks of his delivery, it looks like his arm should be shot already. But's still alive and kicking. The odd delivery was the reason many teams passed on him, because they were worried he would flame out quickly. While he is still only 25 years old, he's had a great career so far. This year, he has not been automatic. His 3.03 ERA explains that. Too high for a closer. BAA is only .210. And he doesn't walk much but strikesout a ton. Which makes it odd why his ERA is high this year. Not only can he break the sound barrier with his fastball, but his curveball is just not fair(when it's on). It goes from nose to toes.
Scot Shields has always been one of the best relief pitchers in baseball. He can pitch anywhere. He could even close if you wanted him to. His stats have not reflected that. He has encountered some tough times since the All-Star Break. But the stats are a bit misleading. He still gets the outs and he works alot for a set-up man. He's got a rubber arm. Justin Speier was a great pick-up. Gives them 2 qualitiy set-up men. The good thing about Speier also is because he was injuried for some time, he didn't pitch too much innings. So he should be rested enough for October baseball. Thats the thing with the Angels:Unlike the Red Sox, their pitching rotation isn't solid 1-5. So the Angels will have to rely on that bullpen alot more. The signing of Darren Oliver went pretty much under the radar, but he has been a important part of the pen. He's an inning-eater. Pretty simple. If you need 3 innings of good ball to keep your team in the game, he'll give it to ya. And it doesn't hurt that he is a lefty.
Hitting- The Angels play like a National League team. They play small ball with a hint of pop. That "hint of pop" is really more like a boulder. That "boulder" is Vladimir Guerrero . One of the most underrated players in baseball(and a future HOFer) he can hit anything out of the yard. I'm not just saying that. I mean EVERYTHING. The ball can bounce before it hits the plate and he'll still somehow hit it out. The ball can be above his eyes and he'll still knock it over the right-center field wall. But that is basically the only power they have. They do have some pop. Garret Anderson has proved this season that he can still hit. The fact that he is hitting .300 is the most surprising thing to me. The AVG shows that he can still be a very consistent hitter. Gary Matthews Jr. is one of the most overrated players in baseball, but he still is a good solid player. But now that he is on the D.L. the Angels have a bit of a problem. Even though he is very overrated, the Angels could really use him. First thing, they have no one else who can be the regular CF. Second, he can still hit. He gives the team some protection around Vlad, which is something they need badly. Third, not to mention he is a fantastic defensive player.
Then you have the little guys who do the little things right. The first guy that comes to mind is Chone Figgins, who is alot like Willie Randolph in the 70's. He is the spark-plug of this team. Not only does he hit, but he gets on base. Over .400 OBP is what you want from a switch-hitting leadoff guy. He is also one of the most flexible players in baseball. Can play basically anywhere except pitcher and catcher. And once again because of the tight play, he has 38 stolen bases. Chone is the perfect example of the style of play the Angels use. They peck away at you. Reggie Willits was a ROY contender earlier in the year before he cooled down. Still another speed threat. I don't know if he will be an everyday player because he has no power. But he is pesky. He seems to me to be the perfect #9 hitter. Fouls away alot of pitches and doesn't strikeout often.
The right side of the infield is young and has a very high ceiling. Casey Kotchman was a disappointment last year but this year he has shown to be a very solid producer who can be a cornerstone for this team in the long-run(if they don't trade him for a big slugger). The only thing wrong with him is the injury problems. He seems to be injury prone. And he doesn't have as much power as you usually want in a 1B, but he hits for AVG and his defense is great. The Angels love Howie Kendrick. You can't blame them. Good, young 2B are very hard to come by these days. The 2B position is one of the weakest in baseball. Howie is an above .300 hitter and his power will develop as he hits his peak.
Once again, this team is not flashy, doesn't have big #s, and very little game-changers, but as a team they get it done. I think they are the best TEAM in baseball. They are a complete team that fits together perfectly like a puzzle. They have the pieces in place. Now the playoffs:
Angels def. Yankees In 5 Games- The Angels own the Yankees. All there is to it. I would much rather face the Red Sox or Indians then the Angels. They have the Yanks number. Figgins will continue to hammer Yankee pitching and K-Rod will close it out by striking out Abreu looking(SWING,ABREU! SWING!!!!)
Red Sox def. Indians In 3 Games- I think this will be a good, old-fashioned beatdown. The Red Sox pitching will make the Indians look like the Pirates. Sizemore will strikeout 10 times and this young,inexperienced team will cough up every lead they have.
Mets def Diamondbacks In 3 Games- Same deal as the Red Sox/Indians only change "Sizemore" to "Byrnes". The D-Backs has gotten by with so little but it's gonna catch up to them. The Mets are not the powerhouse they were last year, but they are better in every aspect of the game(maybe except bullpen).
The Padres def Cardinals In 4 Games- I'm sticking with the Cardinals. But really, it doesn't matter who wins the Central. No matter who wins(The Cubs, Brew Crew, or Cardinals) neither of those teams are getting past the 1st round. The Padres don't have much hitting,but the pitching is fantastic.
Angels def. Red Sox In 7 Games- The Angels just seem to be more of a complete team then the Sox. The Red Sox have not really been great for the whole second half. Every game will be close, with afew walk-offs. I think the Angels will be better at creating runs and the bullpen will match right up with the Red Sox.
Padres def. Mets In 6 Games- The Mets aren't as good as last year. The bullpen is no longer a strong point but now a weakness. The Padres will pitch better. The Padres might even be out-scored because the Mets can hit very well, but it comes down to pitching. And the Mets are one very streaky team this year.
Angels Over Padres In 6 Games- The Angels have enough pitching to match up to the Padres pitching and to completely shut-down the Padres cold bats. The Angels will do the thing they do best: they will keep scratching away at the Padres pitching until it cracks. It goes like this:
Starting Pitching-Padres(Not By Alot)
Bullpen-I'm Gonna Say The Angels Because They Are More Proven.
The Angels will win the WS. I'm done.