Organizational Rankings: #11 – Anaheim

The last time the Angels won less than 89 games, Scott Spiezio was their starting first baseman and Jarrod Washburn led the team in innings pitched. That was 2003, and in the six years that followed, the Angels have won the AL West five times, finishing second in the only year they weren’t the champs. It was a tremendous run. But like all good things eventually do, it may be coming to an end.

The Angels aren’t a bad team, but they aren’t a great team anymore either. With John Lackey bolting for Boston, the team’s best player is now probably Kendry Morales, who has had one good major league season. While the team has quality around the diamond, there is a significant lack of star power. There’s not a single guy on the team that projects as a true talent +4 win guy. There is no franchise player.

That doesn’t mean they’re doomed, of course, because there are a lot of ways to build a roster, and you don’t have to have a superstar in order to win. But, to win without a premium player requires that you get legitimate major league production at nearly position. You don’t have the wins coming from the top to compensate for a glaring hole anywhere, so depth is crucial. The Angels certainly have that depth, but it’s not young and spry. Hunter is 34, Matsui is 35, and Abreu is 36. Even Juan Rivera is on the wrong side of 30. That outfield is long in the tooth, and they need all of those guys to play well and stay healthy.

It may work, but for the first time in a while, the Angels are clearly vulnerable. They’re no longer the clear favorites in the AL West, though they’re still certainly in the mix. But without a premium group of young players to build around and some important aging role players, the Angels are at a crossroads. If they don’t win in 2010 with this team, it might be time to look at going young for a year or two in order to rebuild the foundation of the team.

The team is well run and well financed, so the Angels will likely never be a laughing stock, but their run of owning the division appears to be nearing its end. This will be a critical year for the Angels future as they try to figure out just what they’re going to be going forward.




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Dave is a co-founder of USSMariner.com and contributes to the Wall Street Journal.


84 Responses to “Organizational Rankings: #11 – Anaheim”

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  1. Don Coburleone says:

    11th Dave? No way in heII are there 10 teams in MLB with a brighter future than the Angels. I am not even an Angel fan (go Braves!) but this team was arguably the 3rd most successful franchise in all of baseball in the 2000′s and very little has changed in the front office (Stoneman is no longer GM, but he still has alot of say when it comes to personnel). Granted their outfield is aging and somewhat expensive, but name me a team that has a better, younger, more cost controlled infield/catcher? Izturis, Aybar, Kendrick, Morales, Mathis and Napoli combined make what, $15MM this season? And 3 years from now they’ll cost, at worst, $50MM?

    I know 11th isn’t exactly terrible, but to me they are somewhere in the 5-7 range for sure. I think you are downgrading them way too much just because they’ve had some trouble signing their high draft picks over the last 4 seasons.

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    • Reuben says:

      who is left?

      red sox
      rays
      yankees
      braves
      phillies
      cardinals
      rockies
      mariners
      rangers
      twins?

      is that correct? who would you bump?

      i’ll throw out my guess

      cardinals
      twins
      braves
      mariners
      rangers
      rockies
      phillies
      rays
      red sox
      yankees

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    • Sandy Kazmir says:

      Gimme Longoria, Bartlett, Zobrist, & Pena any day of the week.

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    • Bubba says:

      That infield is good, but I’d rather have Longoria + whoever will be in the Rays infield 3 years from now (they still prospects like Beckham and Brignac) over that of the Angels.

      Plus the rotation is Shield/Garza/Price/Niemann/Davis and top prospects like Hellickson and Moore.

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  2. Don Coburleone says:

    I agree Sandy, but the Rays infield not only costs more in 2010 than the Angels, but Pena is gone in 2011 and Bartlett is gone in 2012. I’m saying for the next 3 years, based on players within the organization, there is not a better value at the infield/catching spot in all of baseball than the Angels.

    And Reuben how exactly can the 2 teams the Angels have been putting over their lap and spanking for the past decade be rated ahead of them??? Texas and Seattle? Really? They have been nothing but the Angel’s BlTCH since about 2005. Doesn’t recent performance mean anything towards predicting future outcomes?

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    • TheQuestforMerlin says:

      The Audacity of Hope.

      I guess the idea is that the Rangers have a really good farm which ranks highly in future performance (although their young pitchers have not proven anything yet) and a solid core of good young (Andrus, Kinsler, Cruz) players as well.

      With the Mariners i’m assuming its the performance of the front office the past year and the star potential of Felix Hernandez and Ichiro that puts them over the edge. Maybe D Ackley is considered to add fuel to the future fire.

      The rankings are subjective so really, I guess the opinion is totally valid. But i’m not really on board having the Angels behind the Mariners and Rangers in organizational rankings. The 5-8 you suggested seems about right.

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    • TsB says:

      “Doesn’t recent performance mean anything towards predicting future outcomes?”

      In this case, little.

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  3. Don Coburleone says:

    For the top 11 teams I would go:
    1. Yankees
    2. Red Sox
    3. Cardinals
    4. Phillies
    5. Rockies
    6. ANGELS
    7. Rays
    8. Twins
    9. Braves
    10. Rangers
    11. Mariners

    Yes I know its blasphemy to not suck the Ray’s shlong like every stathead has been doing for 2 years now, but isn’t the ultimate success of a franchise measured by post season appearances and World Series’? I know the Rays have tons of talent at both the major league and minor league level; but how many AL East titles do you see them winning over the next 7-8 years as that talent runs through the system and eventually into free agency? The Yankees and Red Sox will greatly diminish the Ray’s chances of winning any AL East titles or World Series Championships. And remember, small market teams simply cannot sustain success over the long haul (somebody remember how great and healthy the Oakland organization was back in ’99-’05?)

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    • eitheror says:

      “…but isn’t the ultimate success of a franchise measured by post season appearances and World Series’?”

      Well, no. But it is a great measure for inflating the Angels current ranking. FYI, you lose ethos when you say things like “shlong.” I believe Dave said that there are large clusters of ostensibly equal teams, so you should lay off a bit. But more importantly there is an argument to be made without sarcasm and sophomoric vocab. Just a thought. Then again when the facts aren’t on your side the best thing to do is pound the table.

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    • Bob R. says:

      And why exactly will the Rays and Red Sox not greatly diminish the Yankees’ chances of winning any AL East titles or the Rays and Yankees not diminish the chances of the Red Sox? I understand the issue of financial clout, but it seems common to discount the Rays’ chances because of how tough the division is, but the same problem exists for every team in the division. Just as TB has to go through NY and Boston, so each of them has to go through TB and each other as well, and very soon through Baltimore and maybe even Toronto too.

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  4. Tom says:

    Remember that in the Fangraph’s world, having young, cheap talent trumps everything but the Yankees money. Value over salary trumps everything so once a player hits free agency they aren’t really an asset anymore. In one sense that is correct (imagine the team you could put together if you had 10 third year stars on your roster) but it leads to over-valuing young players (where you’d be crazy to trade Dustin Ackley for Adrian Gonzalez since Gonzalez makes too much money and Ackley costs nearly nothing the next few seasons).

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    • jsp2014 says:

      I would say that being in the NL alone has inherent value.

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      • Tom says:

        Do you mean that since the NL is an easier league all the NL teams should be ranked higher? That’s pretty much true although this series isn’t a list of the franchises with the best shot of winning the division or WS but rather a list of (the more vague) “success.” In reality, every team in the NL is better off than both the Orioles and the Blue Jays — who do you think has a better chance of going to the playoffs in the next 3 years, the Padres or those two teams? The Padres might be better off than the Rays as not having to face the Yankees/Red Sox is such a huge advantage (plus the fact that the Rays need to rely on prospects panning out to stay competitive).

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  5. Brandon says:

    This is a perfect example of why this series is VERY flawed. Each article needs to accompanied by rankings/metrics even if they are of the authors own creation. Not only are the Angels a better now team than just about ALL the squads above them, but as has been mentioned all their contributors outside of OF are young and cheap. That includes (1b, 2b, ss, 3b, c, 1/2 their rotation and they have STRONG bullpen arms that will replace the aging closers). Couple that with the fact that every year for the next 3, there are significant contracts coming off the books. A very strong low minors system with a plethora of early picks this year to come. As well as an owner who is truly committed to being successful on both the major and minor league front.

    The Angels, Red Sox and Yankees (Phillies are fringe in this group because they are mortagaing a lot of their future for Hallalday as well as their major contributors either being over 30 and close to FA) are in a class all alone and this 11th rank really discredits the whole series.

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  6. Don Coburleone says:

    “Remember that in the Fangraph’s world, having young, cheap talent trumps everything”

    Prospects are given far too much value (most of the time) when evaluating trades or free agent acquisitions on this site. (Don’t get me wrong, this is the best baseball site around but I just put waaaaay more stock into somebody whose actually succeeded at the major league level than someone who is tearing up the minors). Just go back and look at Baseball America’s top 100 prospects from 7 or so years ago. Many never did anything in the majors or they turned out to be just another player. Bottom line, for me, recent success and the current roster should mean alot more than future talent…

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    • Gdiguy says:

      I think the point that you’re skipping over a bit too quickly is how difficult it is to build a 95-win team without either a) young (i.e. CHEAP) all-star players, or b) red sox / yankees level money (or, as in the case for the red sox recently, both). As the Mets have demonstrated quite well (and I say this as a Mets fan), you can spend a lot of money on all-star free agents (and even spend it wisely), but without some good cheap players to pair them with, you’re left either massively overpaying for crap, or playing young cheap players who shouldn’t be playing

      Yeah, for every prospect that turns out to be Longoria, there’s 10 more that flame out as AAA guys (or less); but in order to succeed (without spending $200 mil), you really need to have a couple guys like that

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    • JH says:

      This thinking would have led you to call Dave crazy for discounting the 1994 Toronto Blue Jays, even though their core took a major, major hit, their front office reshuffled, and Pat Gillick decimated their farm system.

      This is a forward-looking series, and the Angels have lost a lot of their star power. They’re still a good team, but the window is pretty small and their farm system is very weak.

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    • Mat says:

      Don, these rankings are focusing on something you’re not attaching much value to so take a deep breath. Stop. Pounding. The table. I also enjoyed you quickly glossing over “just because they’ve had trouble signing their high draft picks for 4 seasons.” No big deal. When you’re working “shlong” and “spanking” and “bitches” in your argument it really augments your lack of coherent argument nicely.

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  7. Don Coburleone says:

    jsp: “I would say that being in the NL alone has inherent value.”

    That ties right into my point about the Rays. Sure, put them in any other division in baseball and I’d bump them up to #3 on this list. But they AINT IN ANOTHER DIVISION. All that great talent, intelligent front office personnel and solid manager means nothing if it can’t overcome the pocketbooks of the Sawx and Yanks…

    And Brandon, chill bro. I agree this is a horrible ranking for the Angels, but it doesn’t discredit the entire series… I’m thinking more along the lines of maybe Mr. Cameron’s bias against the Angels (since he’s a Mariner fan) is showing?

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    • philkid3 says:

      Playing in a tougher division doesn’t make you a lesser team. It means you play in a tougher division.

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    • Brandon says:

      No it does credit the series. But not the fact that the Angels are rated low, as it is a very subjective series and I get that. The problem this poses is the criteria seems in consistent. My point is its not really clear what puts the Angels at 11. They seem to have better EVERYTHING that a handful of teams below them. I think it would serve the series to create an authors rubric. My point isnt the unfair rankings, it is that it seems like some of these write ups are comparing apples and oranges.

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    • Reuben says:

      It’s funny that for years DCam got railed by Mariners fans for being too hard on them for being some sort of secret Mariners hater. Now that they’re starting to do well, everyone is accusing him of Mariners-bias.

      Last year he had them tenth. I think it’s understandable to bump them one spot due to the losses of Lackey, Chone, and Vlad. If anything losing that many of your best players and only dropping one spot is a credit to the trust that DCam and the rest of fangraphs have that the Angels won’t lose much of a step at all.

      The Mariners and Rangers weren’t that far behind the Angels last year (12 and 10 wins respectively), and I think both have a better chance of improving than the Angels do.

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  8. Smeck says:

    Given the historical results that the Angels have produced I’d have a hard time putting the Ms or the Rangers ahead of them. I don’t think the Angels are clear cut favorites, but I don’t think either of the Ms or Rangers are clear cut favorites either. Further, I’d have a difficult time putting the Angels behind the Braves, I don’t have as much optimism as the projection systems and think very little of Wren. I might not put the Angels behind the Twins, Cards or Rocks, and would probably have them somewhere in line with the Phils. But by my own weighting system, and this is the problem, is that I would weight them almost totally on their current talent and my subjective view of the front office. I don’t know near enough about the players in the farm system to evaluate future talent in either way. That is, in my opinion, what is very interesting about these lists, the chance to learn about the different aspects of each team. Anyway, while I disagree with this rank for the Angles, I think that all the teams from now on to the Number 1 organization are all very very good teams/organization…

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    • Alex says:

      You’d have a hard time putting the Braves ahead of the Angels? Leaving aside the unwarranted Wren hate (the guy turned Renteria into Jurrjens; also turned Tyler Flowers and some organizational filler into a year of Vazquez, Melky Cabrera, and Arodys Vizcaino), how can you possibly compare the young cores of each team and come to that conclusion? Look at the group of young guys Atlanta has locked up through 2013: Brian McCann, Jair Jurrjens, Yunel Escobar, and Martin Prado, not to mention Hanson and Heyward who won’t become free agents until after the 2015 season. On top of that, they still have on of deeper minor league systems in baseball, especially in terms of pitching.

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      • Smeck says:

        I can come to that conclusion mainly because I think the Angels will win more games this year then the Braves, and I think they are much more likely to make the playoffs. I didn’t say I hated Wren, so don’t put words into my mouth, I just don’t think of him as a very good GM. I’ll give him credit for getting Vasquez, but not for the stuff he got for trading to NY. I did not think the Vasquez trade was a good one, any trade where the key prospect is a single A guy with 70 IPs is such a huge risk I’m not sure I’d take it. I thought Vasquez was their best pitcher, and he is gone. I think they invested in very old back end of the bull pen arms. I think he bumbled the Soriano arbitration. I think the Lowe signing was ridiculus. I hated the plan last year to sign and play garret anderson (a guy the angels let go…). And he sure got a lot of value when he traded away texeria.

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      • Alex says:

        You do realize this series is about more than who will win more games and make the playoffs this season, right? Sure, that should probably be the most important component, but this series is meant to look at how good these teams will be in 2009 and beyond. Just because you don’t know enough about future talent to incorporate it in your rankings, that doesn’t mean that the Fangraphs should completely ignore it. Also, I have yet to see a projection system that has the Angels ahead of the Braves (PECOTA has the Angels with 78 wins to 86 for the Braves), so I don’t understand why you’re so sure that the Angels are better this year.

        As for Wren, I wasn’t implying that you hate him, just that you were “hating” on him, to use the parlance of our time. The whole point with the Vazquez trade is that Wren sold him at his peak value. He got an amazing season out of Vazquez and then flipped him for more value that the Braves gave up to get him in the first place. That’s a huge win in my book, whether or not Arodys works out (the point is to hedge your bets by getting as many high upside young pitchers as possible). As for Saito and Wagner, their age is certainly a concern, but to hold their age against him before they throw a real pitch seems a tad aggressive. I’ll skip over Soriano here because that deserves its own paragraph, but Lowe was overpayed and GA wasn’t the best signing, though I think Cox played a major role in that. As for Teixeira, Wren wasn’t the guy who traded the farm for him, and he got the best he could in return. It didn’t work out, but the only other real option was letting him walk for picks and there is no guarantee they would have been any more valuable.

        I don’t know how people can still say he bumbled the Soriano arbitration. The choices were to offer and hope to get something or to not offer and get nothing. The best case scenario was Soriano declining, so the Braves tried to make his mind up for him by signing their setup man and closer before he made his decision. Sadly he still accepted, so the Braves were forced to trade him for an interesting bullpen arm. I don’t see how is getting Jesse Chavez worse then letting him walk for nothing?

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  9. Schlist says:

    What a dog’s dinner. I’m not sure that having fans of opposing teams doing the write-up is the best way of ensuring objectivity here.

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    • GetBedarded says:

      So having fan do write-ups of their own team will ensure objectivity?? haha

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      • Schlist says:

        No, that wouldn’t be objective either. There are plenty of writers here who don’t have a vested interest in the AL West. Cameron ain’t one of them.

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      • GetBedarded says:

        A vested interest? Are these rankings somehow affecting the AL West, or anything for that matter?

        It wouldn’t matter which team the person doing the rankings was a fan of, the rankings are going to be subjective when the rankings are based on something as vague as “future success”.

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    • slamcactus says:

      Schlist is right. There’s just too much riding on the objectivity of this series to entrust it to a partisan like Cameron.

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      • Jeff Nye says:

        What, precisely, do you think is “riding on the objectivity of this series”? Do missiles launch from somewhere if Dave ranks someone a spot too low?

        And what, furthermore, makes you think that this series is being done without the input of the other Fangraphs authors?

        (you might want to try looking at the bylines of the current/future talent posts that are being done to accompany this series)

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      • slamcactus says:

        Dude, my post was sarcastic. Calm down.

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      • Jeff Nye says:

        Fair enough, but I have no idea how I was supposed to be able to tell that given the rest of the comments here!

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      • slamcactus says:

        I thought it would be on-its-face ridiculous to suggest that there’s anything actually riding on Fangraphs’ assessment of organizational health. Apparently the low common denominator of internet-based discussion requires emoticons to convey sarcasm in even more cases than I thought.

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  10. Tiger says:

    so basically what your saying is that you would rather have one star player and mediocre players instead of a bunch of good players with above average talent.

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  11. Marlowe says:

    Not sure where the Angels’ past success is relevant. The article mentions that they have a history of getting a lot out of their lineup, but that lineup is aging and getting depleted. There are teams ranked 10 spots lower that could also win. While the Angels could very well win the AL West this year, is it really that absurd to rank the Mariners and Rangers ahead of them in a tossup division and in regards to young vs declining talent? If Dave were a fan of a non AL West team I think there’d be less protest, but ranking teams like this is always going to make someone type with their Caplock key jammed.

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    • TheQuestforMerlin says:

      As ever:

      Napoli 28
      Morales 27
      Kendrick 26
      Aybar 26
      Izturis 29
      Wood 25
      Rivera 31
      Hunter 34
      Abreu 36
      Matsui 36

      Weaver 27
      Saunders 29
      Santana 27
      Kazmir 26
      Pineiro 31

      Thats just major league talent (ex. bullpen), no minor league guys. So outfield = old (yet there has not been any noticeable statistical decline), everywhere else = peak years. Not old.

      I don’t know if I would say guys hitting their 27-29 years as declining talent, yet it is always used as an ‘argument’ against the Angels. Use something else! The Angels are not old!

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      • J!m Future says:

        Here’s one:

        “Rivera 31
        Hunter 34
        Abreu 36
        Matsui 36

        Weaver 27

        Santana 27
        Kazmir 26″

        As you pointed out, the outfield IS old. And the rotation’s best pitchers? Young, sure – but also flyballers. (2009 FB%: Weaver 50.4, Santana 42.0, Kazmir 47.5) This has the potential to get ugly *real* fast if anybody loses even half a step.

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      • TheQuestforMerlin says:

        Sure, thank you. I can accept an argument that the pitching might not be as effective if the outfield defense of the Angels decline significantly (or perhaps if Hunter is injured for a significant period of time).

        I don’t really know enough about the relationship between range factor, park dimensions, number of fly balls allowed, line drive rates etc to be able to offer any definitive opinion one way or another. All I can say is that the Angels didn’t do too badly last year with an aging outfield defense, and i would say a lot does rely on Hunter (Abreu was poor and will be again, Rivera is not bad). However it is important to note, that Peter Bourjos, one of the Angels top prospects (will be in AAA) is also a very, very good defensive CF’er. He is on the bubble for the 5th outfield spot and could see some time with injuries etc.

        But in relation to the first post, I just get annoyed/frustrated seeing tired arguments claiming the Angels are old and that means they are going to regress or get worse. Because any simple look at the ages of (most of) the players will tell you they’re not old. No crazy research is needed, just a little effort.

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      • JH says:

        If you look at that super awesome totally rad young infield everyone’s talking about, there are actually quite a few questions. Brandon Wood’s never hit major league pitching. Kendrick is the AL version of Rickie Weeks: effective when healthy, always looks ready to break out, but constantly disappointing. Aybar and Morales both had breakout years last year and are candidates for at least some regression, though I like them both. Napoli is really the only person there with an established track record of success, and the team still has him split more time than he should with Mathis.

        In the rotation health is a much better predictor of future success than age, and Santana and Kazmir both have major, major questions surrounding their durability. If healthy that’s a very solid rotation top to bottom without a true ace, but again there are more questions than answers.

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      • TheQuestforMerlin says:

        You can find questions with most teams infield. Every team will have questions, because there are so few ‘stars’ who perform year in and year out.

        You could say Morneau has question marks on him this year, coming back from wrist injury. Can Mauer repeat his power breakout? What about Zobrist and Bartlett’s track record of success. Will Andrus suffer a sophmore bounce, or get better? Can Chris Davis establish himself. Will Reyes come back, and what of David Wright and his loss of power? Will Tulowitzki establish himself injury free and a top SS and can Ian Stewart live up to his promise. Will Stephen Drew show why he was thought of so highly, will Reynolds repeat. And so on. For every team and most players.

        What you can say about the Angels is that they’re pretty good when things fall right (‘true talent level’ and all that) and they’re (Kendrick, Napoli, Aybar) contracted for another 3 seasons at least (Morales for 4 seasons). That ‘awesome totally rad’ – as you facetiously put it – infield offers good contract value.

        Baseball teams will always have issues and questions no matter what, and thats why, winning is the only thing that matters, the true test of performance and repeatability.

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      • slamcactus says:

        I have no qualms with calling the Angels’ infield a strength. And there’s definitely upside there if everything breaks right. What it doesn’t have, though, is a lot of guys with clearly defined true talent levels. The 4 20-something infielders could feature a batting champion, two guys who hit 30 home runs apiece, and a 3.5-win shortstop, or it could be four guys who barely play above replacement level if Wood still can’t hit in the majors, Kendrick battles injuries, Aybar can’t maintain the high batting average he needs to be an offensive asset, and Morales regresses.

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    • Smeck says:

      Really, their past success is not relevant? How can you ignore their record as an organization over the last 5 years? I’m not sure I’m comfortable just throwing away the observations from watching this team for the last couple of years. I went back and reviewed the Dodgers write up and noted that the ownership situation was a mess. How is the Ranger ownership situation any better? While the pundits will note that the minor league is very strong does that overcome the issue that the ownership was in so much debt and cash poor that it was reported they needed to borrow money to make payroll. With that much uncertainty I definitely think it is odd to have the Angels ranked below the Rangers.

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      • JH says:

        “How can you ignore their record as an organization over the last 5 years?”

        Because each year they have to play a whole new set of games?

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      • Smeck says:

        Oh good, i’m glad you cleared that up. So any projection system that relys on any data from prior years is completely worthless then. Nice.

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      • Kevin S. says:

        Any projection system that relies on team results from prior years, as opposed to individual player results, is exceedingly worthless.

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      • slamcactus says:

        Yes. Teams get worse. Players decline. Situations change.

        The Atlanta Braves eventually stopped winning the NL East title. The Toronto Blue Jays won their division 4 years out of 5 once, including back-to-back World Series, and haven’t been to the postseason ever since. The Angels don’t get a presumption of continued greatness because they’ve had an excellent run in the past 10 years.

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      • Smeck says:

        Those are two really really great examples. What do you think precipitated the decline for those two teams? Maybe a change in ownership (TBS bought by Time Warner in 1996, Labatt bought by IntreBrew in 1994 right after )? Maybe a change in the GM (Pat Gillick leaving)? Yep, there we go, that’s just like the Angels right? Your guys are fair to point out that I look too much to prior years to form my opinion of organizations in 2010, but I also get the sense that you all think that Angels won 97 games by accident, and that the AL West race was close last year, which it wasn’t.

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      • Alex says:

        What in the world does the Braves being bought by Time Warner in 1996 have to do with them finally losing their division in 2006? That’s one of the most ridiculous arguments I’ve ever seen. Time Warner was on the verge of selling the Braves by the time they finally lost the division.

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  12. ineedanap says:

    “”If they don’t win in 2010 with this team, it might be time to look at going young for a year or two in order to rebuild the foundation of the team. ”

    No mention of the infield?

    “With John Lackey bolting for Boston, the team’s best player is now probably Kendry Morales, who has had one good major league season. While the team has quality around the diamond, there is a significant lack of star power.”

    Lackey was the only player with “star power” last year?

    “The last time the Angels won less than 89 games,”

    Fewer.

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  13. TheJackal says:

    Wow. I didn’t know that the “Butthurt Angels Fans” convention was in town.

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  14. prague51 says:

    The Angels have on thing the Rangers, A’s, and Mariners don’t have: Mike Scioscia.

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    • J!m Future says:

      …and his insane predilection for playing catchers who can’t hit at all over one of the better hitting catchers in the MLB.

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  15. Dave Cameron says:

    Of the FanGraphs authors to submit their personal rankings, I had the Angels the highest. Had I not been involved, they would have ranked lower than 11th.

    Claims of bias are the crutch of those who have no credible argument.

    +11 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • TheQuestforMerlin says:

      Hi Dave, although I don’t agree with the rankings as I stated above (I would have them 5-8 not that it matters) your opinion is obviously entirely valid and I appreciate the work. I was wondering if you will be writing a note why you place the Rangers and Mariners above the Angels in their write-ups or could you bullet point the reasons in this comment section. Just for my curiosity really, as I like to keep abrest of the plus and minus points of the AL West teams.

      Cheers, TQ4M

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      • Dave Cameron says:

        Short version: I think all four AL West teams are about the same in terms of current talent. I don’t see more than a 5 game spread from top to bottom in true talent between the four teams. So, while the Angels have certainly been better in the past, they aren’t that much better than any of their opponents right now.

        Texas has more quality young talent than any non-Tampa team in baseball. This isn’t just unproven young prospects, but a core of tremendously good players to build around. And yes, the best farm system in the game. They’re as good as the Angels now (maybe even better) and have a significantly better talent base to build from going forward.

        Seattle is about equal to the Angels in present talent, but take the lead in future talent. They have better near major league ready players than the Angels do, and they have a better management team in place.

        I have a lot of respect for what the Angels have done this decade. But this isn’t about rewarding them for past success, and I think they’re going to have some problems going forward, and the rest of their division has closed the gap.

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      • Smeck says:

        Dave, maybe you’ll address this in the Ranger write up, but I can’t get over their current ownership group, let by Tom Hicks, and what a mess it is. That by it self should hurt the ranking for them a ton.

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      • ThundaPC says:

        Are you aware that Tom Hicks is in the process of selling the Rangers to Chuck Greenberg and Nolan Ryan?

        That should help out their future a bit. And even with the current situation, the Rangers were still able to have a pretty decent off-season.

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      • Smeck says:

        Yah, and everything I’ve seen said the sale isn’t going smoothly. The creditors and owners of the land around the stadium are making a fuss. Hicks still wants to be an employee of the team. MLB hasn’t approved the sale, etc. There were rumors the debtors wanted a different group to win the bidding, and when new owners come on board (if it isn’t the Ryan group…) they often bring in a whole new front office right? There just seems to be a lot of questions. If the Dodgers owners get dinged for uncertainty I just thought the Rangers should as well.

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  16. sausagemcbiscuit says:

    Angels will win the West by 5+ this year.

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  17. Woddsicle says:

    No one seems to be mentioning the fact that the angels have at least 5-6 picks out of the top 50 in the draft this year, as compensation for losing Figgins, Lackey and Vladdy. I think it goes 3 in the 20s and 30s and 3 in the 40s. Who else even has 3 picks in the first 50? The Angels farm system is already pretty deep(Trumbo, Reckling, Walden, Bourjos to name a few) but now they’re going to completely blow away everyone elses farm system after this years draft, so i’m not sure how you can say their future doesn’t look bright…….

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    • slamcactus says:

      Draft picks are great for the future, but those guys won’t even be in the system until 2011. At the very best, these guys don’t enter into the equation as guys who could help the major league team until mid-2012. More likely, not a single one of those picks figures to be a factor until 2013 or 2014.

      It’s one thing to be forward-looking. The kind of analysis you’re asking Dave to perform requires a crystal ball.

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    • slamcactus says:

      You name 4 players and call that system depth? Right now the Angels have a brittle catcher with a solid bat, a few good but not electric arms, a solid B- prospect in Bourjous, and two toolsy and talented outfielders who’ve yet to play full-season ball. There are talented players in the system, but there are comparably talented players in virtually every system, and most systems have much, much better impact talent.

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  18. Angelsjunky says:

    It seems that the Angels have become the most controversial team–at least among armchair baseball fans–over the last couple years, perhaps partially (largely?) because they defy the computer formula approach to baseball prognostication, and they exemplify why Billy Beane is in fact mortal and not a living divinity.

    A #11 ranking does seem kind of low, however, and the Angels should at least be above the Mariners and Rangers, right there in the second tier of baseball franchises with the Phillies, Cardinals, and Braves, and the Rays due to their talent.

    Of the remaining teams, including the Angels, I see a few groups:

    The Big Two: Yankees and Red Sox.

    The Contenders: Cardinals, Phillies, and Angels.

    The Not-Quites: Braves, Twins, Mariners, and Rockies.

    The Up-and-Comers: Rays and Rangers.

    So it depends upon what your criteria are: The Yankees and Red Sox are the marquee franchises of the current era, with the “Contenders” just a couple steps behind. The next group, the “Not-Quites,” vie to enter the ranks of the Contenders, and may just do so with a solid string. But to get there, you have to have a few years of strong performances and the sense that not only is there a lot of future potential in the farm, that it is actually manifesting with the big club (You could argue that the Twins belong in the Contenders, but for some reason I’m not quite ready to put them there; perhaps the Mauer contract pushes them over the edge).

    Finally, the Up-and-Comers – loaded with talent, but not quite there. I think you could make an argument that if you were a new GM and you could have any organization to play with, the Rays would be your top pick–except for the fact that they share the same division as the two powerhouses and don’t have the money, history, or fan-base to truly contend.

    And to address the Angels. In some sense they are to the 00s what the Braves were to the 90s; no one would have rated the Braves 11th, at least not after coming off five-of-six postseason berths.

    If you were ranking based upon how good the franchise is right now and over the past few years, the Angels would be top five. How could they not be? But the major criticisms against them are threefold, which I will address in brief:

    1) Lost stars – Guerrero, Lackey, and Figgins. Guerrero has decline over the last three years and will be adequately replaced by Matsui, not to mention the increased firepower of the Angels lineup which has softened the blow of losing the only true position player superstar in franchise history. Figgins will be a significant loss and the Angels are crossing their fingers that Aybar can maintain his .300 batting average and take a few more walks to up his OBP to .370. Lackey is less of a loss than it seems in that the Angels replaced him with essentially a younger version of himself in Scott Kazmir (Pineiro is not replacing Lackey, but the gaggle of mediocrity that filled the #5 spot in the rotation).

    So while all three will be missed, they have to be viewed in the larger context. The Angels offense from 2009 to 2010 is not hurt by the loss of Guerrero, although somewhat by the loss of Figgins. The starting rotation is not hurt that much be the loss of Lackey because he is being replaced by Kazmir; and the rotation itself should improve with a healthy Santana and the addition of Pineiro, so it should actually be better post-Lackey.

    2) Aging Angels (in the Outfield) – Hunter, Matsui, and Abreu. This older group constitutes only a third of the Angels lineup and will grow younger when Conger pushes Napoli to DH in 2011, and Bourjos squeezes in once Abreu’s contract is up. Then, they hope, Mike Trout and maybe Randall Grichuk will be the stars of the next generation. This isn’t much of a problem in the short-term, although there is no denying the fact that the major weakness of the organization in terms of developing talent has been top tier offensive players. Mike Trout is the most talented position player I’ve seen drafted in a few years and hopefully the Angels will be more offense-oriented this year in the draft.

    3) Poor farm system – The once great Angels farm dipped into the bottom third a few years back when their core talent graduated to the big leagues, but has been improving over the last year or two, and looks to get a big boost this year with five first round draft picks. That, combined with their considerable talent in the lower levels, may push them back into the top third of farm systems as soon as next year. But 2010 will be a big year in terms of how the lower level talent develops.

    In conclusion, as in fantasy baseball I don’t think there is a clear choice after the Big Two. We all know the Yankees and Red Sox are the powerhouse franchises in baseball, just as we all know that 90% of fantasy drafts will start with Pujols and Ramirez; but who next? Do you take A Rod? Or Ryan Braun? Or is Longoria ready to take a step forward? What about Prince Fielder? While the field is somewhat open in terms of organizations, if we’re looking at the total picture I think you have to rate the Angels somewhere between #3 and #8; only the Sox and Yankees are definitely better, and I think you have to rate them above the Mariners, Rockies, and Braves. Everyone else, well, it depends upon which angle you look at it.

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    • slamcactus says:

      The problem most people here will have with how you’ve framed the discussion is that you suggest that teams already need to succeed to be considered in a good position to succeed this year and beyond. That kind of analysis is easy, but it’s based on a fundamentally flawed assumption.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  19. Alix says:

    “Who else even has 3 picks in the first 50?”
    The Rangers have four.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  20. Nick says:

    “The Angels farm system is already pretty deep(Trumbo, Reckling, Walden, Bourjos to name a few) but now they’re going to completely blow away everyone elses farm system after this years draft, so i’m not sure how you can say their future doesn’t look bright…….”

    Maybe because all of the guys you mentioned are mediocre prospects? They’re a bottom third farm system right now (I think BA had them 24th). Much like the major league club, no stars.

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  21. Scott says:

    What a shocker, an Angels hater predicting the demise of the Angels, just like every other Angels hater has done since 2005. Come up with something new Cameron, your stuff is weak and riddled with holes. I understand doing writeups and favoring your home team and discrediting a rival, but this just comes across as weak and pathetic on your part. Here’s just a couple of tidbits you completely ignore (Thank you Halosheaven).

    - Who has better management than the Angels? Is Mike Scioscia not the best manager in the AL? Is he not annually regarded as one of the top 5 in baseball? The Mariners and Rangers certainly do not.

    - The Angels OF/DH may be old, but check the glory of your Mariners. Griffey-40, Ichiro-36, Bradley-32, Gutierrez-27. That comes out to a half year older on average than the Angels. Care to reply or will you just alow the embarrassment to set in?

    - You have nothing on the line with these predictions. Now let’s pretend your livelihood was at stake, would your predictions look the same? Absolutely not, you’re nothing more than a fan hoping the Angels run of dominance comes to an end, while writing up a wordy article that hides the fact that you neither published any good reason, nor do you have credibility.

    - The Angels have no franchise player. Yes, Kendry Morales and Torii Hunter as the face of the franchise can be difficult to muster. However, find me a team in baseball with less weaknesses than The Angels without spending upwards of 200 million annually? The OF is old, but good. The infield is young and good. The pitching staff has 5 number 2 and 3 starters. The bullpen is as deep as any in baseball. The minor league system is stacked (Reckling, Bourjos, Conger, Pettit, Sandoval, Richards, Chatwood, Chaffee, Smith, Kohn, Martinez-Mesa, Trout, Grichuk, Skaggs, Ramirez, Amarista, Segura….)

    - Look at the rest of the division. Your beloved Mariners will be sending out Casey Kotchman, an inferior Angels product as the number 3 hitter. Seattle may have the best 1-2 combo in baseball, but also have potentially the worst 3-4-5 in baseball and weakest offense in baseball, not to mention no depth whatsoever. Teams like that don’t make the playoffs. If they do, sure they are well set up to compete in a 5 game series, but that’s where it ends. THe Mariners are a .500 team hyped to be a 90 win team. The Rangers have the best minor league system in baseball. However, they have a manager prone to making big mistakes, Hamilton can’t stay healthy, Davis is as unproven as Brandon Wood, the rotation has potential but hasn’t put up the performance yet. Neither of these teams finished within 10 games of the Angels last season.

    - The Angels have win over 900 games in the last decade and have won more games in the last 3 years than any team in baseball. THe Angels in the last six years have never had less than 89 games and have averaged 95+ wins. Meanwhile Seattle in the last six year has only managed two season of over .500 ball, neither of which contended for the playoffs and the Rangers have never managed to win over 89 games in a season in the past 6 years. You give no credible evidence as to why the Angels will all of a sudden go from winning 95+ games a year to winning less than that. You provide no credible evidence that supports why the MAriners will go from being a .500 ball club to over taking one of the top 5 teams in baseball annually. You give no reason why the Rangers will do the same in 2010. Saying the Angels run is coming to an end without giving the reader any coherent reason only illustrates your bias, lack of reason and abundance of unintelligible opinion.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • KaminaAyato says:

      And if you actually read the comments section, you’d have realized that Cameron had them ranked the highest of all the authors who voted.

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      • Scott says:

        Which all the more illustrates how bias and utterly useless in terms of actual baseball knowledge fangraphs writers are. Great stats, great theoretical interpretations, but nothing more than fanboy writers taking personal jabs at teams they don’t like. The fangraphs writers are pretty low.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • KaminaAyato says:

        Then use your freedom of choice and don’t read it. And as for bias, I find it hard to believe that there’s a pundit out there that isn’t. It’s the cynical side of me talking but I always start under the belief that *everyone’s* working with a personal agenda.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Jeff Nye says:

      Personally, I think this series is a pretty good demonstration of why Fangraphs should consider disabling comments, at least for this series

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  22. Don Coburleone says:

    “Claims of bias are the crutch of those who have no credible argument.”

    Sorry Dave, shouldn’t have said a bias against the Angels. I really respect your opinion but I just feel your opinion is wrong here.

    “They’re (the Rangers) are as good as the Angels now (maybe even better) and have a significantly better talent base to build from going forward.”

    Future talent you are absolutely right. But can you really say they are equal in current talent? The Rangers starting 5 is currently slated to be Rich Harden, Scott Feldman, CJ Wilson, Matt Harrison and then the #5 guy will be Dustin Nippert or Tommy Hunter until Holland is ready. Really? Those 5 are on par with Weaver, Saunders, Piniero, Santana and Kazmir? I would be shocked if the Rangers can get more than 1 of those guys to top 150 league average innings. The current offense is better in Texas I’ll agree with you there, but not by alot and maybe not at all. Which of these two teams scored more runs than any in baseball last year outside of the Yankees? Oh right, the Angels. Is the Figgins to Wood dropoff really going to knock their run production from 2nd in baseball to middle of the pack? Bullpens are fickle, won’t even try to get into that…

    “Seattle is about equal to the Angels in present talent, but take the lead in future talent. They have better near major league ready players than the Angels do, and they have a better management team in place.”

    No point in making the same argument here, but all 4 of those statements are simply your opinion, so stop stating them as fact!

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    • Alex says:

      This whole series is basically based on opinions. Does Dave really need to type IMO in front of everything he says? He’s presenting you with his reasoning for the rankings. You can disagree but that doesn’t make them wrong.

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  23. Woddsicle says:

    Slamcactus, I said those four prospects TO NAME A FEW, actually read my post before you criticize me douche. Scott thank you for putting up the rest of prospects for the doubters, yea I should have done that in the first place.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

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