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Entries in Los Angeles Angels (46)

Saturday
Aug132011

Down the Wells

Vernon Wells of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim own the lowest OBP in the major leagues among hitters with at least 350 plate appearances.  Looking over various numbers for Vernon over the last four seasons, you can see the deterioration:

 

Vernon WellsOBPK%BB%Strk%Ball%
2008 Season 0.343 0.10 0.06 0.629 0.371
2009 Season 0.311 0.13 0.07 0.621 0.379
2010 Season 0.331 0.13 0.08 0.625 0.375
2011 Season 0.241 0.17 0.04 0.658 0.342
Vernon WellsOBPBABIPSwng%InPl%Miss%Chas%Line%
2008 Season 0.343 0.293 0.467 0.526 0.160 0.321 0.165
2009 Season 0.311 0.279 0.461 0.506 0.173 0.311 0.162
2010 Season 0.331 0.272 0.498 0.488 0.208 0.313 0.177
2011 Season 0.241 0.207 0.510 0.457 0.218 0.345 0.126

 

In the three previous seasons, Wells did not post a great OBP, but it wasn't terrible, either.  They varied from a bit above average to a bit below average.  Both his strikeout and walk rates were rising slowing over the three previous seasons, but in 2011 the K rate sky rocketed while the walk rate fell in half.    That's not surprising given that his strike and ball rates went in the same direction.

More strikeouts mean fewer balls in play, so Wells would need more of those finding holes for hits to make up for the Ks.  Instead, his batting average on balls in play (BABIP) dropped 65 points.  Vernon suffers the double whammy, fewer balls in play, and a much lower percentage going for hits.

Why?  His approach at the plate is off.  He's swinging at more pitches, and missing on more of those swings.  Part of that comes from chasing more balls out of the strike zone.  When he does make contact, few of those balls result in line drives, the type of ball in play most likely to result in a hit.

Often times, a low BABIP is indicative of bad luck.  Given all the statistics that deteriorated for Wells this year, this looks more like a drop in skill level than a fluke bad season.

 

Wednesday
Aug032011

Bobby Abreu's Option Vests, But Should It Have?

For better or worse, Bobby Abreu is now under contract with the Angels for the 2012 season. Abreu signed a two-year, $19 million extension with L.A. two offseasons ago that included a $9 million option for 2012 that vested with 1,100 total plate appearances over the 2010-2011 seasons.

Abreu, 37, once had a sublime blend of patience and power. But his days of popping 20-30 homers per season are well over, and that $9 million may well be an overpay.

The former Phillie and Yankee still works the count like few others. Abreu has chased only 17.4 percent of pitches thrown out of the strike zone, which is the second-lowest rate among MLB hitters (Kosuke Fukudome has the lowest chase rate). As a result, Abreu has worked a walk in 15.3 percent of his plate appearances. Only Jose Bautista, Miguel Cabrera, Carlos Santana, Lance Berkman, Joey Votto and Prince Fielder have taken ball four more often.

In the power department, though, Abreu falls flat. The left-handed hitter has just four home runs this season. His .090 Isolated Power is a full 50 points below the league average and places him in the same company as banjo-hitters like Mark Ellis and Cliff Pennington.  

Abreu hit for modest power during his first two years with the Angels (.161 ISO), at least remaining somewhat dangerous on inside and high pitches:

 Abreu's in-play slugging percentage by location, 2009-2010

In 2011, though, his heat map is ice-cold except for a single spot up and in:

Abreu's in-play slugging percentage by location, 2011

He has yet to hit a homer off a lefty and has a .051 ISO against same-handed pitching.

If Abreu played a premium position on the diamond or was a defensive standout, then his patient, punchless bat would be valuable. But in reality, he's a DH who occasionally plays a poor corner outfield. That means he has to been an offensive standout, not merely an above-average hitter like he has been in 2011, to earn his paycheck.

Most of the other DH-types who hit the free agent market last winter -- Johnny Damon, Jim Thome, Manny Ramirez, Hideki Matsui -- signed deals worth $2 million to $5 million. And Fangraphs shows that Abreu's performance this season has been worth less than $2 million. Unless the Angels have reason to believe that Abreu's power will return, they might have been better off letting him take some nights off against lefties and keeping his plate appearance total under that vesting option. It would be hard to the Players Union to cry foul when it's not clear whether Abreu should be playing every day at this point.

Tuesday
Aug022011

Jered Weaver Head Hunting

Jered Weaver of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim received a six game suspension on Tuesday for throwing at Alex Avila of the Detroit Tigers.  Note that Weaver is not afraid to pitch inside to left-handed batters.

Jered Weaver, pitching inside to lefties out of the strike zone, 2011.Compare that to the league average:

MLB, RHP inside to LHB, 2011.Weaver tends to come farther inside than most righties, and up and down a bit more.  His high pitches usually end up over the plate, not near the batter's head.

Look where he threw the pitch to Avila:

Jered Weaver pitch to Alex Avila, July 31, 2011 (pitch labeled 1).That is not where Jered normally pitches when he misses.  It's off the chart.