Inbox: Who will bat leadoff for the Angels in '18?

Beat reporter Maria Guardado fields Halos fans' questions

Inbox: Who will bat leadoff for the Angels in '18?

What are the Angels' options/plans for the leadoff position next year?
-- Rick S., Chino Hills, Calif.

The Angels' three primary leadoff hitters in 2017 -- Yunel Escobar, Cameron Maybin and Brandon Phillips -- are not under contract for next season, so Los Angeles will have a hole to fill at the top of its lineup. I think Kole Calhoun and Andrelton Simmons are the best leadoff options among the club's returning hitters, as both have experience in that role, though it's possible that the Angels will make an external addition this offseason to fit the bill.

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What do you think the Angels will do about getting a legitimate closer? Or will they still close by committee?
-- David A., Placentia, Calif.

I don't expect the Angels to make a move for a high-profile reliever this offseason, as they showed this season that you don't have to spend a lot to build an effective bullpen. Three of the Halos' most valuable pitchers this year -- Yusmeiro Petit, Bud Norris and Blake Parker -- made the club as non-roster invitees, so I think they'll keep trying to unearth inexpensive pitching talent through Minor League deals and waiver claims, rather than pursue a closer on the free-agent market.

The Angels already have a few in-house arms who have pitched the ninth inning in the past, including Parker, Cam Bedrosian and Keynan Middleton, but it remains to be seen if manager Mike Scioscia will anoint anyone the closer next season or keep everyone's roles fluid, as he did this year. My guess is that it will be the latter.

Will Petit remain with the club or be used as trade material toward picking up additions to the offense?
-- Jack A., Columbus, Ohio

Petit will be a free agent this offseason, so he is no longer a trade chip for the Angels. They could try to re-sign him, though he's likely to have plenty of suitors after his successful 2017 campaign.

How did general manager Billy Eppler make such a huge mistake in signing Luis Valbuena? They signed him for $15 million for two years. He was hurt most of this season and only hit .199. A very typical miss for the Angels.
-- Steve, Villa Park, Calif.

While it's true that Valbuena missed the first month of the season with a hamstring injury and finished the year batting just .199, the Angels believe his season wasn't as rough as it might appear on the surface. Valbuena posted a .727 OPS and provided much-needed power from the left side by clubbing 22 home runs, the third-most on the team and three shy of his career high of 25, which he set in 2015. Metrics also suggest that Valbuena's low batting average was a result of bad luck, more than anything. During his end-of-season review last month, Eppler pointed out that the 31-year-old infielder had a .210 batting average on balls in play (BAPIP) this season, which is generally "not sustainable." (The league average was .300).

"Was that what it was for him?" Scioscia said after hearing the figure. "Oh, he's going to be fine. He's going to hit .320 next year."

Maria Guardado covers the Angels for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.