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Entries in Los Angeles Angels (46)

Friday
Jul122013

Josh Hamilton is Finally Looking like Like Last May

The Josh Hamilton story need not be repeated here. Eventually the movie that is being directed by Casey Affleck will come out, and we can all relive Josh's harrowing experience as he climbed from the gutters of drug addiction to the highest peaks of baseball stardom. What can be repeated, is that in December of last year, there was more than a quiet buzz on Katella Ave. in the city of Anaheim. After Arte Moreno had gone and had one of the most expensive free-agent shopping sprees ever prior to the 2012 season with the signings of Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson, he went and did it again. 

Luxury tax be damned. Payroll be damned. Signing a player on the wrong side of 30...again...damn.

Welcome to the Angels

After having a solid spring training, when nothing mattered at all, Hamilton stormed out of the gates in April to the tune of a .204/.252/.296 slash line. It was the only month in Hamilton's career that he has ever had an OPS under .600. May was better OPS-wise, as he put up .237/.315/.495 slash line, good for an .810 OPS. But then he cratered again in June with a .231/.284/.396 line.

This was going to be a long season.

Even eternally optimistic fans were starting to dread not just this season, but the four years left on that $125MM deal. 

With brown paper sacks in hand, Halo fans prepared for the absolute worst.

But then, Josh hurt his wrist during an aggressive hitting drill during a late-June series against the Pirates. He sat out the series. Upon coming back in the next series against the Tigers, he got a hit in his first game back.

Then another one in the next game.

Then another. 

Before you knew it, 12 games later, Hamilton had a nice little hitting streak going ending the other night in Chicago, but then he followed that up with two home runs in the following game.

It's only two weeks into July, but currently, he is sporting a .290/.353/.710 line. A line that, in some ways, is very similar to the .344/.405/.781 month of May that Josh had in 2012.

Did I lose you with that connection?

Yeah, I thought so. It's a pretty big leap to join those two months together. 

May 2012 and July 2013

Josh hit 12 home runs last May (he has 14 in all of 2013).

Yeah, that is a ton of red. It is also a lot of space that is being taken up pitches being swung at. 

Last May, Josh swung at an astounding 57.7% of pitches thrown his way. Yet he still managed to strike out in less than 20% of his plate appearances (barely, 19.8%) and walked in more than 10% of his plate appearances (again, barely with a 10.8 BB%). How? I don't know. If you had thrown the rosin bag towards the plate, he would have swung. It was just one of those months.

But this is where Josh's recent surge over the last two weeks actually looks better than the one he had last May. 

Josh's upper cut-type swing is made for pitches low in the zone. And he has done a good job of going after those pitches so far this month. But what has made July 2013 nearly as good as May 2012, is not how much or how hard he is hitting the ball, but rather, how much he is not swinging at the ball.

If you go by the last two weeks, instead of "just games played within the month of July," Josh has a well-above-what-Angels-fans-have-come-to-expect, 13% walk rate. By adding in those last few days in June (which was a three-game series against the Astros), Hamilton's slash line explodes. If you recall, his July line is .290/.353/.710, add in those three games and it is .333/.435/.744.

An identical ISO (Isolated Slugging) of .410 for both time frames, and a better walk rate so far this month. Angels fans have been waiting for this kind of outburst from Hamilton, and now that it is happening, they are afraid to breathe on it for fear of it vanishing like a whisper in the breeze.

The month is only half over, and there is also that silly All-Star break next week that could have who-knows-what kind of effect on the run that Hamilton is currently on. But for the time being, Angels fans have put away the head covers, and are donning their team swag. Even bringing their Josh Hamilton jerseys out of the closet for some sunlight.

Of course, now that I have written something about Josh's streak, he'll more than likely turn back into a pumpkin, and slump through the rest of the season.

But what if he doesn't?

As awful as the the Angels have played, they are only 6.5 games back in the wild card race and that's nothing when you have a hot Josh Hamilton. 

Friday
Jun212013

Mike Trout Adjusted, Again

There are a contingent of Angels' fans who believe that Mike Trout is not human. That he gets his powers from our yellow sun, and should have been fitted for his first cape a long time ago.

Some of us knew this when he was tearing apart A-Ball at the age of 18 to the tune of a .341/.428/.490 slash line. He was so good then, that my friend drafted him in his Fantasy Keeper Leaegue.

At 18. In A-Ball. That's ludicrous.

Others needed to be reassured of his coming greatness and waited until he tore up the Texas League in AA with a .326/.414/.544 slash line. More power in a league where he was three years younger than the average player in that league, and one of the five youngest players in the league to boot. And for those of you who are unaware, a .544 slugging while playing most of your games at Dickey Stephens Park, is no small shakes. That stadium is death to hitters.

Still, some were not convinced. He was still a prospect. Do you know who else was a highly touted prospect? 

Brien Taylor.

Brien Taylor was the first overall selection in the 1991 First Year Player Draft. Brien Taylor signed for $1.55 million, besting Todd Van Poppel's record bonus in 1990. In 1992, Brien Taylor was ranked the number one prospect in all of baseball. Ahead of nobody's like Pedro Martinez and Manny Ramirez. In 1993, Brien Taylor tore his labrum in fight in a mobile home. By 1999 he was out of baseball, and in 2012 he was sentenced to 38 months in prison for narcotics trafficking. He never appeared in a major league game.

Back to Mike Trout.

Trout earned himself a cup of coffee in 2011, and was rather uninspiring, hitting .220/.281/.390. So, going into the 2012 season, the Angels did what they thought was best and started him in AAA, effectively spotting the rest of the league a month to get out in front of the greatness that was to come. 

"What greatness is that?" You ask. "Were you not alive last year?" I ask.

125 runs. 45+ stolen bases. 30 home runs. A batting average of .325 or better. 85+ RBI.

Those numbers had never before been combined in a season until Mike Trout did it last year. His 10.7 bWAR (Baseball-Reference WAR) was the highest ever for an age-20 season, and the highest since some guy named Barry Bonds had a bWAR of 10.6 in 2004. It was the greatest rookie season ever.

But there was still a hole in Trout's game, and that was on pitches in and under his hands

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pitcher's tried to expose this hole in Trout's swing, but Mikey (Don't worry, he's OK with me calling him that) is so patient that he laid off of most of them, not allowing them to lower his production.

Mike Trout is also very good at making adjustments. And not just on a month to month, or week to week, or even day to day basis. But, from at bat to at bat.

How good is Mike Trout at making adjustments?

Well... 

SplitOPS
vs. SP, 1st .860
vs. SP, 2nd 1.042
vs. SP, 3rd 1.198
vs. SP, 4th+ 1.244
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 6/28/2013.

 

That would be Trout's OPS for each at bat against a starting pitcher. I would get more into the detials of this, but Halos Heaven already has the goods on this subject (Part 1 and Part 2).

So how does The Chosen One Mike Trout handle this hole in his game?

He adjusts.

And adjust he did

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hole. Closed.

On belt-high pitches in and off the plate last year, Trout slugged a meager .200. Bronson Arroyo's SLG% last season was .206. Essentially, Mike Trout was Bronson Arroyo on pitches belt-high and in off the plate. At no time should a person ever want to hit like Bronson Arroyo. 

This year, Mike Trout is slugging .842 on those same pitches. in 1921, Babe Ruth slugged .846. Essentially, Mike Trout has been Babe Ruth on pitches belt-high and in off the plate this season. You should always want to be like Babe Ruth. Except of course when you are out to eat, or at a social function, or...

On a baseball diamond, you should always want to be like Ruth on a baseball diamond.

On Thursday, Trout added another feather in his cap in a game against the Detroit Tigers. Mike Trout went and had himself a four-hit game, which doesn't seem all that exciting, until you actually research four-hit games. Only two other players over the last two season's have had as many four-hit games as Trout does (8), and those two players are Miguel Cabrera and Andrew McCutchen

ESPN Stats and Info tweeted this yesterday about how Mike Trout needs only one more four-hit game before his 22nd birthday to tie Al Kaline's record of nine before turning 22.

Peter Gammons tweeted this, giving a hat tip to Angels beat reporter Alden Gonzalez about Trout's numbers through 79 games last year compared to this year.

 

 

Mike Trout was expected to regress this year

If he has regressed, it's been marginal.

In other words, the moral to this story is: Kids, when you grow up, don't be like Brien Taylor. Be like Mike Trout. 

Wednesday
Apr172013

How bad is the Angels pitching?

Really, really, really bad. 

The 26th worst in baseball

Check out these stats:

  • The Braves pitchers have the best ERA in baseball at 1.83
  • The Angels pitchers have the worst ERA in baseball at 5.43
  • The Braves pitchers have the best WHIP in baseball at 1.008
  • The Padres pitchers have the worst WHIP in baseball at 1.562
  • The Angels pitchers have the second- worst WHIP in baseball at 1.560
  • The Braves starters have the best ERA in baseball at 1.99
  • The Angels starters have the worst ERA in baseball at 6.07
  • The Braves starters have the best WHIP in baseball at 1.033
  • The Angels starters have the worst WHIP in baseball at 1.692
  • Cardinals starters are averaging 6.49 IP per game, the most in baseball
  • Pirates starters are averaging 4.90 IP per game, the least in baseball
  • Angels starters are averaging 5.40 IP per game, the 24th worst in baseball 
  • Cubs starters are allowing 0.23 homers per nine innings, the best in baseball
  • Angels starters are allowing 1.78 homers per nine innings, the worst in baseball  
  • Red Sox starters are whiffing 10.59 batters per nine innings, the best in baseball
  • Twins starters are whiffing 3.76 batters per nine innings, the worst in baseball
  • Angels starters are whiffing 5.11 batters per nine innings, the 29th worst in baseball
  • Brewer starters have walked only 14 batters, the fewest in baseball
  • Cubs starters have walked 34 batters, the most in baseball
  • Angels and Giants batters have each walked 33 batters
  • The Cardinals, A's, Tigers, and Braves starters all have eight wins, the most in baseball
  • Brewer starters have one win, the least in baseball
  • The Angels, Marlins, and Cubs starters all have just two wins

It's getting late awfully early under the halo.