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BettorIQ’s MLB Preview: Los Angeles Angels

MLB

BettorIQ continues with its 2020 MLB betting previews. We will be breaking down all 30 teams from a betting perspective leading up to the start of the season.

Los Angeles Angels 
2019 Record: 72-90 
2019 Profits: -14.8 units 
2020 Win Total: 85.5 (based on 162-game season)
2020 Odds to Win AL West: +700
2020 Odds to Win AL Pennant: +1400
2020 Odds to Win World Series:  +4000

Betting Positives: The Angels were dealt some difficult cards in 2019. After starting the season 54-49, they imploded down the stretch with an 18-41 record. Tyler Skaggs tragically passed away prior to the All-Star break, Mike Trout missed 28 games, two-way player Shohei Ohtani could not pitch due to injury, shortstop Alderton Simmons played in only 103 games, infielder Tommy La Stella suffered a broken leg, and veteran outfielder Justin Upton competed in just 61 contests. The disappointing finish brought about some major changes as the Angels turned to veteran manager Joe Maddon and his track record of success. The Halos also acquired the best position player on the market in third baseman Anthony Rendon. The 30-year-old Rendon is in the middle of his prime, coming off of a stellar 2019 season, and finally offers a complementary bat to Trout. There is not much doubt that the Angels are in win-now mode as they attempt to make the most of having the best player in baseball — something they’ve failed to accomplish in recent years.  

Betting Negatives: While the lineup now looks formidable, big time questions surround the pitching staff. Newly acquired Julio Teheran enters off of back-to-back seasons of vastly outpitching his peripherals in the National League. His fly ball ways aren’t a bad fit for the West Coast but he’s not a game changer at this point in his career. Dylan Bundy offers a little more upside at only 27 years old. Leaving the toxic culture of the Baltimore Orioles is a step in the right direction but he’ll be hard pressed to live up to the billing of a former first round pick. The staff should benefit from the delay to the season with Shohei Ohtani and Griffin Canning currently rehabbing. They offer the potential for a legit one-two punch but it’s hard to have confidence both with be at full strength and remain healthy even under the format of a shortened season. Andrew Heaney is another iffy proposition. After tossing an effective 180 innings in 2018 (4.15 ERA, 3.99 FIP) Heaney was one of many Angel pitchers that was bit by the injury bug last season. His last four seasons have resulted in 6, 21.2, 180, and 95.1 innings. The bullpen has promise but there’s no indication it will be an above average unit (preseason rank of 25th). The acquisitions of Rendon and Madden brought about a lot of expectations but in order to meet them, a majority of the pitching staff’s question marks need to be answered. 

Handicapper’s Take: The Angels lineup is on course to be an upper echelon unit as the core of the lineup of Trout, Rendon, Justin Upton and Ohtanti all project to a wOBA average of .330 or greater. Overall, Los Angeles projects to 4th in MLB in WAR among their batters. That paired with a weaker pitching staff that projects 23rd in the same metric gives bettors a reason to look into the OVER with regards to totals. Los Angeles is positioned in PECOTA projections at 2nd in runs scored in the AL but also 7th in runs allowed. The betting market’s positive outlook appears to be justified based on upgrades and last year’s “bad luck.” Note that among AL West teams, the Angels are the only team pegged to improve based on last year’s win total. Houston and Oakland are expected to regress while Texas and Seattle are slated to remain sub.-500 outfits. It all sets up well for the Angels to contend but unlike the Astros and A’s, who are established and well built, things will need to break right in order for bettors to really reap the benefits.