9/2011 Team Scope: LA Angels

While they are still in the race, the Angels playoff hopes are basically over. What should haunt them is the fact that they traded a very productive power-hitting catcher, for a guy with a huge contract who is an old, marginal player. Not only does Vernon Wells have a massive contract, but he has a negative WAR total and one of the worst OBPs for an everyday player of all-time. Don’t you hate it when GMs keep running these old scrubs out there all the time?

There have also been musings of Art Moreno girding up his loins to try to pursue the much-coveted Albert Pujols. If they could ever get their hands on Puj, this offense would go from ho-hum to elite. What to do with Kendrys Morales? Ship off the oft-injured first baseman to someone who could use him more. After all, he’s not all that good when you compare him to the other first basemen around the league. And heck, they could end up with a couple of decent prospects in return.

Howie Kendrick is way ahead of all the other Angels’ position players with a 5.8 WAR, but I do have some concerns with him. His .339 BABIP is a little fluky- but not as lucky as one might think- and he strikes out 20 percent of the time, while only walking five percent of the time. What really helps him are his baserunning and fielding abilities, and he has actually hit for more power than Torii Hunter this season.

Even if he is a little lucky, I think the plate discipline has to do with the fact that he doesn’t have all that much power anyway. Like, patience is only a virtue- in baseball kids- for power hitters who wait for a pitch they can drive. Although Kendrick has good pop for a second baseman, he’s best served going after a pitch he can put on the ground. Hence, the high BABIP total.

Torii Hunter may have 21 taters, but he really hasn’t had a good season. He’s been decent, but that’s not the type of play the Angels want to get back with the money he makes. His contact has been poor, but he has done a solid job of drawing walks. The problem, however, is that a .261 BA with a .297 BABIP just doesn’t cut it. UZR has actually rated Hunter as slightly below average in the field this season, and I have seen a noticeable drop-off in quality in his defense. Oh what to do, what to do with Mr. Hunter.

Dan Haren is a better pitcher than Jered Weaver. There, I said it. Hang me; no man vagabond, call me what you will. Haren has been better this season, and he is better overall. To me, the reasons are quite clear and are easy to spot once we look past ERA.

You see, Weaver benefits an awful lot from playing in Angel Stadium, because his FB% is almost at 50 percent. Yeah, Peter Bourjos really is that important to what the Angels do defensively. Haren, on the other hand, is well-balanced in the type of contact he dishes out. Both pitchers have similar strikeout rates, but what also sets them apart is the fact that Haren has much better control. Put it all together, and Haren has higher FIP, xFIP, and WAR totals than Weaver (6.2 WAR to 5.6 WAR).

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