That was Then...
The Angels were widely named the winners of the 2012 off-season, when they not only signed the best available hitter in Albert Pujols, but the best free-agent pitcher in C.J. Wilson.
The Angels came out of the gate struggling and on April 27, after falling to 6-14 - which was their worst start since 2002 - the club released veteran outfielder Bobby Abreu and recalled their top prospect Mike Trout.
The Insertion of Trout into the leadoff spot, provided an immediate boost to not only the Angels offence, but their defence as well. The club went 83-59 with Trout being in the Majors.
The 21-year-old had a season for the ages, where he not only easily won the 2012 AL Rookie of the year, but finished second to Miguel Cabrera in MVP voting.
Pujols rebounded from his early season troubles to reach his 12th straight season with 30 home runs.
The Achilles heel for the Angels last season was their pitching staff which has long been the strength of the club under manager Mike Scioscia. Both Dan Haren (4.33 ERA), and Ervin Santana (5.16 ERA) fell off greatly from their expected production.
The Angels fell short of playoffs, posting a respectable 89-73 season.
...This is Now
The Rich Get Richer
Already having one of the better offenses in the American League, the Angels went out and added Josh Hamilton, who joins stalwarts Albert Pujols and Mike Trout in an impressive lineup.
The Angels went into the off-season and re-tooled their club in typical Los Angeles fashion. The club spent big and for the second straight year, they walked away with the biggest bat in the market, centre fielder Josh Hamilton from their rivals the Texas Rangers.
The Angels also completely rebuilt the back end of their starting rotation by adding Tommy Hanson and Jason Vargas via trade and signing Joe Blanton. The Angels also added closer Ryan Madson to take the ninth inning load off the arm of Ernsesto Frieri (see: YOUTH WATCH). Unfortunately, Madson will be out until early May after having a setback in his recovery from last season's Tommy John surgery.
Even with the loss of Torii Hunter to free agency, the club should still hit enough to win, with Trout, Erick Aybar, Pujols, Hamilton and Mark Trumbo as their projected top five hitters. The real issue for the club could once again be on the mound despite the changes.
Hanson struggled with a shoulder injury in 2012 and posted a sub-par 4.48 ERA, and Madson missed last season entirely due to Tommy John surgery.
If the Angels learned any lessons from last season, it's that in the ultra-competitive West, there's no room for a slow start and no time to throw away games early that could come back to haunt them.
Every year, we look for players 26-years-old or younger that could make an impact on their team in the upcoming season. The player might have already established himself with a regular role with the team, or he could make their mark later on in the season.
Past Picks: 2012 - Mike Trout, 2011 - Peter Bourjos, 2010 - Scott Kazmir, 2009 - Jose Arredondo, 2008 - Brandon Wood, 2007 - Howie Kendrick, 2006 - Jeff Mathis, 2005 - Dallas McPherson, 2004 - Bobby Jenks, 2003 - Francisco Rodriguez
Questions about their starting pitching have the Angels at 9th in the rankings.
After a rookie season for the ages, OF Mike Trout is the highest ranked player overall.
For my money, the Angels offer the most first-round selections in fantasy.
From second-year OF Mike Trout, who is a worthy candidate for the top pick based on his speed and power, to 1B Albert Pujols, who struggled to 30 home runs and 105 RBI in his first American League season last year to RF Josh Hamilton, who mashed 43 home runs and 128 RBI in Texas last season, the Angels have players that produce at the high end of the spectrum.
Staff ace Jered Weaver is a top pitching option and LHP C.J. Wilson is good to have too. RHP Tommy Hanson could be valuable, but his health keeps his value relatively low for a player with his pedigree.
Power-hitting DH Mark Trumbo and efficient middle infielders Howard Kendrick and Erick Aybar warrant a spot in most leagues too.