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Topgear series: Angel Preview

Manager  - Mike Scoscia (37 -39) Career (1017 - 841) .547 Winning %, One World Championship

Current Status - The Angels have struggled to a 37 -39 record, however due to parity in the AL West they find themselves only three games back from the division leading Texas Rangers. The Angels endured a six game losing streak in early June but have won their last two series, both coming in interleague play. So far in interleague play they are 6 - 3. They have had to turn to rookies at key positions 1st, C, CF, Starting Pitching, and closing. These kids are helping and hurting but without them they would be in deep trouble.  They are 10th out of 14 in wRC (95),  for perspective the Red Sox lead with 121, the Mariners are last with 80.  The strength of the team has been the rotation where they rank second in WAR. The infield has more then held their own, the outfield is where the lack of offense has been hurting the team. All the salary is in the outfield and yet they have produced a paltry portion of the offense.

DL - Kendrys Morales, Fernando Rodney

Position Players:

1st Base - Mark Trumbo: They had expected Morales to play this year but he's done so the rookie Trumbo has had to step up and he has done so. He's been remarkably consistent, posting an OPS+ of 118 overall. His name should get mentioned when they discuss ROY if he keeps this up. Almost league average production from a rookie 1st baseman is more then the Angels could have expected from someone who struck out so much in the minor leagues.

2nd Base - Howie Kendrick: Is tied for Cano for best offensive 2nd baseman with a 138 wRC.  For the first time in his career Howie is putting together the offensive season that many expected from him when he first burst upon the prospect scene. Average, OB, Power, he's doing it all this year, while also providing solid defense. His TSL is .305/.362/.481.

ShortStop - Erick Aybar: sits right in the middle of the pack for AL SS.  He's solid.

3rd Base - Maicer Izturis: Mighty Maicer might better fit into the role of super utilityman but going forward I expect him to get the majority of  starts at 3rd base. Maicer can play anywhere, and produce both defensively and offensively when he does. His current OPS+ of 118 is the best of his career and will probably drop the more he plays.

Catcher - Hank Conger / Jeff Mathis : Jeff Mathis continues to be one of worst offensive players in baseball with an OPS+ of 44. Hack Conger on the other hand can hit a little. What jumps out at you with Conger is his 18% walk rate in June.

UtilityMan - Alberto Callaspo

RF - Torii Hunter: is having a bad year and an extremely bad June. His overall OPS+ is 96, in June he has an OPS of .578. Hunter is banged up and may not play giving the Angels a spot to put the DH Abreu.

CF - Peter Bourjos: the best defensive center fielder in baseball may not hit enough to keep his job. He's actually hitting better then Wells or Hunter but they are not going to bench those guys when Mike Trout comes calling. He's another in the line of defensive first speedy center fielders like  Carlos Gomez.

LF - Vernon Wells:: is dreadful but his bat has shown signs of life in June.  Three of the nine worst hitters in the AL this year are Vernon Wells, Chone Figgins, and Alexis Rios. They make a combined 44 Million Dollars. Wells brings in 23 of that. Think of that, and yet they traded for him by giving up a functional offensive player.

DH - Bobby Abreu: he continues to get on base, even steal bases,  his once functional power is gone. That OB however still plays as he only one of five qualified (150 PA) in the AL to have an OB north of .400.

Bench -

Pitching Matchups:

Win Prob and Over/Under provided by Dodger Sims

Pitchers TripleStateLine WinProb Over/Under
Dan Haren vs Rubby De La Rosa 2.99 / 2.66 / 3.04 /
Angels 54.83% 6.72
Tyler Chatwood vs Hiroki Kuroda 3.84 / 4.51 / 4.79
Dodgers 56.10% 7.27
Jered Weaver vs Clayton Kershaw 2.01 / 2.49 / 3.42
Dodgers 53.17%



Everyone knows how good Haren and Weaver are so I'm only going to talk about the rookie Tyler Chatwood. On the surface Chatwood appears to be having a great rookie season but underlying the ERA are some real dismal peripherals. Yet he's a rookie with very few professional innings,  and his stuff does look like it could play, so maybe he will grow into the role. It is possible that as his numbers normalize he simply starts learning how to pitch at the major league level. I can see some regression but I'm not sure it will be as large as some anticipate. So how about those peripherals.

Here is the Baseball HQ Analysis done on June 23rd:

6/23/2011 - Chatwood: Not what it seems ... Things seem to be going swimmingly for Tyler Chatwood (RHP, LAA). Called up to the bigs barely a week into the season, Chatwood has made 15 starts, and that sub-4.00 ERA makes it seem like he should be due more than just his total of four wins.

Year     IP   ERA  xERA  Ctl  Dom  Cmd  H%  S%  hr/f  hr/9  BPV
====    ===  ====  ====  ===  ===  ===  ==  ==  ====  ====  ===
2011     82  3.84  5.36  4.6  4.7  1.0  29  75    7%   0.7  -19

In reality, Chatwood is lucky to have four wins, as this is a skill set in need of more Triple-A refinement:

  • His 4.7 Dom is far below what is necessary for prolonged MLB success. In fairness, his 2010 MLE of 4.4 (in 74 IP) gave us fair warning.
  • Perhaps more troubling is his 4.6 Ctl: though 82 IP, he's struck out only one more batter than he's walked (43 K / 42 BB).
  • He's done this honestly, for the most part: H%/S% is fine at 29%/75%, he's only be slightly fortunate with a 7% hr/f.
  • xERA is a full run and a half higher than his ERA; a -19 BPV gives very little hope for an immediate improvement.

At this point in his professional career, Chatwood has logged more innings in the majors (82) than Double-A and Triple-A combined (74). Given his poor BPI, he really does need more work before fanalytic owners can count on him--but given his "success," that's not coming anytime soon. Our best advice: bail on Chatwood now; the ugliness could begin at any time.

One thing to note on Tyler. He's only 21. His stat line reminded me of a 21 year old Chad Billingsley who only managed a 5.8 walk rate and a 5.9 K rate his first year in the major leagues. In June Tyler has a xFIP of 4.03, and has improved his K rate upward and walk rate downward. I'm not nearly as pessimistic as Baseball HQ on his near term future. He was thrown into a deep pool in April, he survived, and now might be learning how to swim. He sports a 93 MPH fastball to go with his curveball and change up.


Closer - Luckily for the Angels they had fireballing Jordan Walden to step into the breech when Rodney failed once again as a closer. Walden is elite and he's getting better the more the pitches. In June he has yet to allow a run, he has a K Rate of 14 and walk rate of 2. He's the real deal and shows what you might get when you convert that hard throwing minor league prospect into a short inning stud.

Setup - Hisanori Takahashi is the workhouse in the bullpen, along with Scott Downs I can't imagine two better left handed relief pitchers. Andre and Loney will probably not be factors after the seventh inning.

Tough matchup for the Dodgers this weekend having to face both Weaver and Haren. However we do have Kershaw going against Weaver so if we have to win another no hitter, so be it. The Dodgers must win on Saturday and I expect them to.  The Dodgers are terrible against the AL, the Angels are not. The Angels may be forced to stick Abreu in the outfield to get his bat in the game. That would allow for some Huff like work out there, and one thing you can say about this Dodger team, the defense of their opponents likes to give them games. Heck our two best offensive weapons this year have been Matt Kemp and the other teams defense.