3 You could make an argument that the Angels have the two best players in the league on their roster, but despite that, they have been unable to make the playoffs every season they have had both Shohei Ohtani and Mike Trout. They have been one of the most disappointing teams in the league given the talent they have and the money they have to spend.
They have certainly had their share of bad luck on the injury front, but the bigger issue has been the starting pitching. They put together a bad 4.80 team ERA in 2021, the ninth-worst mark in the league. Things did improve in 2022 as the team ERA improved to 3.77, but it wasn’t enough to get it done as they sputtered to a record of 73-89 despite 40 homers from Trout and another MVP-level season from Ohtani.
The window of opportunity is only open for so long, so maybe the Angels will take this offseason to try and spend some money and bulk up for a playoff run in 2023. We saw an early sign of that this week, as they inked Tyler Anderson to a three-year deal. Let’s take a look at Anderson and what this new team might mean for his fantasy production in 2023.
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A Career Year
Anderson is a tough case to analyze due to him spending the first half of his career in Denver. It’s incredibly difficult to have any success as a member of the Rockies, so it was really tough to know what to expect from him after he finally escaped. Here are the career stats, with the Rockies’ years highlighted in purple.
We can’t even really take anything from that 2020 sprint of a season, but Anderson was far from impressive in those 59 innings with the Giants. He split the 2021 season between Pittsburgh and Seattle and was once again underwhelming, but he did enough for the Dodgers to give him a shot in 2022 and he flourished in Dodger blue, as per the usual arrangement.
So what happened in 2022 to bring the ERA all the way down to 2.57 and the WHIP to a beautifully round number of 1.00? Well, a 4.8% walk rate certainly helps. Only 15 starters in the entire league last year made 25 or more starts while maintaining a walk rate below 5%. It’s not an easy thing to do, and is a huge boon to your WHIP. Given that his career walk rate is 6.6%, I would have my doubts about him repeating that – but it’s fair to say he’s going to post a competitive walk rate again next year.
Looking at some other numbers from 2022 and comparing them to his career averages:
Anderson significantly beat his career averages in all of these categories. Mind you, these statistics are not 100% about luck, pitchers can do a lot to control BABIP and HR/FB – but there is still plenty of randomness involved, and it is notable that we are comparing to his career averages here rather than the league averages.
It seems that he is located very well in 2022. For whatever reason, hitters had tons of trouble making strong contact off of him. Hitters put up just a .313 xwOBA off of him – which is incredibly low for a guy with a strikeout rate under 20%. His hard hit rate against was just 28% – another completely elite mark. If these are truly skill-based gains, then we can expect another good ERA & WHIP from him in 2023 – but we just don’t know if they are skill-based, and the smart money would be on serious regression here.
What to expect in 2023
Anderson’s 11.5 SwStr% in 2022 was well below the league average, and it about matched his career mark. You aren’t going to post a good strikeout rate without the ability to get that SwStr% above 13% or so. Anderson will have to continue to rely on generating soft contact to have success in the Major Leagues, which is a dangerous game to play especially if you don’t have a strong defense behind you (he probably won’t be with the Angels next year) .
Another issue is the Angels’ six-man rotation. As long as Ohtani is healthy, they will have to continue to run it this way. Ohtani led the Angels in starts last year with 28. Patrick Sandoval was healthy all year and made just 27 starts. It is just not going to be possible for Anderson to reach 30 starts, which is not the biggest deal in the world but it is significant. You will only get one or two two-start weeks from him all season long, which can be pretty deflating in some league formats.
So what we are left with is a guy without much strikeout ability coming off a career year that seems to have been majorly buoyed by luck going to a worse team. It’s not a good situation. The field is pretty sharp these days, so it’s not a guarantee that Anderson will be over-priced in drafts, but he’s certainly not going to be under-priced, so it seems like a pretty good idea to just steer clear and head for bluer. water.
Jon’s Projection: 26 GS, 9 W, 4.10 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, 20% K%, 6% BB%
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