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Los Angeles Angels
2022 Record: 73-89
Third place, AL West
Team ERA: 3.77 (9th)
Team OPS: .687 (23rd)
What Went Right
You cannot be surprised we're starting with Shohei Ohtani, can you? The only reason he's not going to be a back-to-back MVP winner -- probably -- is that some guy hit 62 homers for the Yankees. Ohtani made his own case with 34 homers, 11 steals, an .875 OPS and was even better on the mound with a 2.33 ERA, 219 strikeouts in 166 innings against 44 walks in 28 starts. Appreciate it, there's a good chance we never see anything like him again. Mike Trout was able to play in 119 games, and he registered a .283/.369/.630 slash with 40 homers in his age-30 season, showing that he's still an elite option even if his days of stealing bases (just one in 2022) are over. It was mostly based on a red-hot start, but Taylor Ward was able to register an .833 OPS while homering 23 times, as well. And while the Angels were once again nowhere close to playoff contention, for the first time in a while, the pitching can't be blamed -- for all of it, anyway. Patrick Sandoval was excellent in his 148 2/3 frames with a 2.91 ERA and 151/60 K/BB ratio. Five starters were able to post an ERA+ above 100 for the Halos in 2022, and four of those hurlers -- Noah Syndergaard was dealt at the deadline -- will be back for Los Angeles in 2023.
What Went Wrong
Ohtani, Trout and (to a lesser extent) Ward were excellent. The rest of the Angels' lineup was awful. Anthony Rendon was limited to just 47 games, and a .229 average and .706 OPS tells you that he wasn't particularly effective in those contests, either. Jared Walsh didn't come close to building on his strong 2021 campaign; finishing with a .215 average and .642 OPS with an ugly 138/27 K/BB mark. David Fletcher also battled injuries, and struggled to hit for average for a second straight year (.255) while continuing to provide nothing in the power game (.333 slugging percentage). Simply put, this was one of the worst offenses in baseball despite the fact that the Angels had two of the very best players in baseball in their lineup, this was one of the worst offenses in baseball. The pitching was far from perfect, either, particularly in the bullpen. Los Angeles finishes with a 3.95 ERA from their relievers, which ranked 18th in baseball. That included a disappointing 4.06 ERA from Raisel Iglesias, who was dealt from the Angels to the Braves in a deadline deal.
**One of the few hitters who did finish with an OPS+ over 100 outside of the “big three” was Luis Rengifo. He did it in large part thanks to 17 homers and 43 extra-base hits, but he also walked just 17 times in 511 plate appearances with a .294 on-base percentage. He makes plenty of contact when he does swing the bat, but very little of it is hard as seen in a hard hit percentage that ranked in the bottom 10 percent. He'll be a risky fantasy option for those looking for help at second base in 2023.
**Reid Detmers was mostly solid in his first full MLB campaign with a 3.77 ERA over 25 starts in 129 innings, and also was able to throw a no-hitter. That ERA also came with a decent -- if far from spectacular -- 122/46 K/BB ratio and 1.209 WHIP. None of the metrics really stand out for the southpaw, but considering this was a 2020 draft selection, it's fair to call the '22 campaign more success than failure. He's more streamer than draft option to begin next season, but a breakout season from Detmers definitely seems plausible.
**Jose Suarez also held his own in his 20 starts -- 22 appearances overall -- with a 3.96 ERA and 103/33 K/BB mark in 109 innings. The burly left-hander was particularly good in the second half of 2022, when he posted a 2.81 ERA and impressive 58/11 K/BB mark in 64 innings. Suarez doesn't miss enough bats to be considered an elite fantasy option, but he'll turn 25 in January and showed enough in the final two-plus months to believe that there could be something here.
**After the trade of Iglesias to Atlanta, the Angels took a closer-by-committee approach, but turned to Jimmy Herget at the end of the year. The right-hander was able to procure nine saves overall, with six of them coming after August 27. On top of posting a 2.48 ERA, Herget ranked well above-average in several categories including expected ERA, expected batting average and walk percentage; although it came with a whiff percentage (49th percentile) that doesn't exactly scream shutdown closer. The Angels could explore the market for a new stopper, but if Herget gets the gig, he has a chance to be a solid option.
**Jo Adell was once again an up-and-down option, both literally in terms of moving between the Angels and Triple-A Salt Lake and figuratively with a .637 OPS in 88 games. There were some flashes of brilliance for the outfielder -- and it's worth pointing out that he doesn't turn 24 until April -- but to be blunt, he's mostly looked lost at the plate with a career .215/.259/.356 slash in 161 games. A breakout season is obviously possible for a player that was considered one of the very top prospects in baseball, but nothing he's shown in the majors has pointed to success in the 2023 campaign.
**The Angels acquired Logan O'Hoppe from the Phillies in a deal for Brandon Marsh at the deadline, and while Marsh has helped the Phillies reach the World Series, it's a trade that could pay off long-term for the Halos. The 22-year-old is one of the better catching prospects in baseball, and on top of getting plus grades behind the plate, he's a right-handed hitter who has a chance to hit for average and power. Most young catchers struggle -- with some obvious exceptions -- but assuming the Angels don't splurge for a catcher in free agency or trade, he has a great opportunity to be the everyday backstop for Los Angeles in 2023. There could be some fantasy relevancy as soon as next season.
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Team Needs: To get Trout and Ohtani into the postseason. To do so, the Angels need to add a bat or two while also hoping for rebounds from players like Walsh and Rendon. They could probably use at least one more starter as well, and the bullpen will have to be addressed. The talent on this roster is obvious, but the holes are just as glaring. It'll be interesting to see how aggressive they are this offseason -- particularly with the team being up for sale at the moment.