MLB
May 5, 2012 posted by Chuck Anderson

Position Battles: Angels Outfield

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Mike Trout, OF, Los Angeles Angels

Last place in the AL West was not part of the script for the new-look Los Angeles Angels.  Desperate for a shake up the team promoted ultra prospect Mike Trout a week ago.  LA cut Bobby Abreu and adjusted the roles of Vernon Wells, Peter Bourjos, and Mark Trumbo.  Presently Mike Scioscia is prioritizing offense over defense when filling out his daily lineups.

Many called for Vernon Wells’ release instead of Abreu’s.  On purely offensive numbers their argument has merit.  Wells is working on a second straight year with an OBP under .250 and a wRC+ under 80.  His ISO is decreasing as well although his HR/FB ratio is relatively steady.  His BABIP is under .220 but before blaming it all on luck, he has not exceeded .280 since 2008.  While unfit for center field his UZR indicates he is still an above average left fielder.  That and the $42 million he is owed in 2013 and 2014 kept him on the roster.  He played five of the seven games since Trout’s promotion in left field.

In the last week Peter Bourjos emerged as the big loser.  Since Trout arrived Bourjos started two games.  He is pounding the ball into the ground this year, 58.8% of his balls in play threaten the Angel Stadium worms.  His strikeout rate is also too high for a hitter with limited power.  Last year at 22.5% it was a hindrance, this year it is unacceptably high at 26.3%.  Bad luck affects some of his 2012 surface numbers but he has work to do.  He could inherit left field if the team gives Wells the Chone Figgins treatment.

Mark Trumbo is making some nice strides as a hitter.  His walk rate increased from 4.4% to 7.7%.  He is swinging at 46.3% of pitches, down from 52.9%.  He is also seeing fewer first pitch strikes.  His contact rate is lower, though, and his strikeout rate is up about 5%.  His ISO shows he is maintaining the power he showed last year but a 75 point jump in BABIP is making him look better than he is.  Additionally, a 1.27 GB/FB and 34.9% fly ball rate are not ideal numbers for a slugger.  He grades terribly on defense at 3B and in LF, and is the ideal candidate to be pulled in later innings.  He started four of the last seven games at third, mixing in one at DH and one in left.  He is an every day player.

Mike Trout is getting a run at leadoff since Erick Aybar is hitting .211.  He consistently walked in over 10% of plate appearances in the minors and carries a 8.3% rate into Saturday’s game.  His excellent 4.6% swinging strike rate shows how adept he is at making contact.  He has some impressive minor league ISOs but they are more from doubles and triples than home runs.  He can steal bases right away, but any significant home run power is coming in time.

Although he is not yet the player most expect him to become Mike Trout is the best fantasy option of these four Angels.  Once the middle of the order gets cranking (that would be you, Albert Pujols) the leadoff man can score plenty of runs.  Trumbo comes in second, with the edge in power and some positional flexibility.  Wells and Bourjos are fringe players even in AL leagues.

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