After the first couple Angels series, there were definitely a lot more questions than answers. Many were projecting a team that was very well capable of losing 90-100 games. Our offense was anemic, our bullpen was shaky at best, and our formidable starting five was showing kinks in its armor aside from Weaver and Haren.
After the series with the KC Royals, I have to admit most of the hope I had forged during spring training had dissipated faster than the fans at a Giants game after the 7th inning. What a difference a few series can make, we are now have now won eight of our last eleven and are tied for first place in the AL west. After last nights drubbing of the Rangers we are once again seeing what this team can do together when it's playing well.
It'd be difficult at best to pin this on a single player who is carrying the team, and that's a fantastic thing. From the top of our order to the bottom, from Chatwood to Weaver, from Walden to (Can't really think of anyone at the moment in our bullpen worth mentioning), we've been playing some surprisingly good team ball.
Without going into a player-by-player analysis I wanted to point out of few key players that are really exceeding the expectations that we had for them.
1. Maicer Izturis - He's not doing much aside from leading the AL in batting average at .388 at the moment. He's also rockin the 6th best OBP in the AL at .423. These are numbers from a lead off player that any team would be proud to have. His 1.005 OPS is not that bad either, These numbers might be a bit skewed by his .436 BABIP, which ranks 2nd in the AL, but nevertheless, my halos cap is off to him. It's still early in the season but color me surprised.
2. Alberto Callaspo - Currently sporting a .339 BA, which puts him in the top ten in the AL. Also carrying the 5th best OBP in the AL at .426. He also has the 5th best contact % in the AL at 92.8%. This guy is seeing the ball well right now and I really hope it continues. I'll just say it now, he's probably the guy that will garner my surprise of the season thus far. If he was batting .265 I'd be happy, but he's not, he's batting .339 and getting on base.
3. Dan Haren - What more can I say about Dan Beard. Many of us were hoping he'd get off to a good start, and let's just say he has. 4 wins, 1.20 ERA, and the best xFIP in the league at 2.81. Now that xFIP could be seen as a significant sign that he isn't being bailed out by our 'all world' outfield, but just pitching really damn well. He has the 6th lowest BABIP in the league at .210 so I wouldn't be surprised to see his ERA begin to normalize soon, although I really hope it doesn't. As if this isn't enough, his WHIP of 0.67 is currently the best in the AL. I knew he he'd pitch well to start the season off but even I'm surprised by these stats and his record.
4. Jordan Walden - No one can deny that this kid really stepped up to the plate/mound? when we needed a reliable closer to fill in for the always anxiety inducing Rodney. He's given up 3 hits in 8IP's and has a scary fast ball. He has 4 BB's to 10 K's. Before we credit too much his success to defense let's not overlook his xFIP of 3.22, which is 3rd in the league for relievers.
5. Peter Bourjos - I had a lot of concerns about Pete's offense aptitude. Here's his slashies for the season: .293/.333/.500. Not too shabby. Pete has the 3rd best BA for CF'ers starting in the AL. I don't think I need to mention his speed on the bases or his defense, since we already know what he's capable of. I'm just surprised/happy that he's not batting .211.
6. Hank Conger - Slash line of: .333/.429/.625 which reflects an OPS of 1.054. He also has 7 RBI's. Sure it's only 24 at bats but this kid is exciting to watch on both sides of the plate. Also, we've won 6 of the 8 games he's started in.
We saw last night what can happen when our middle of the order starts getting on base. Our top and bottom is getting it done. If Wells and Tori heat up, this squad can end up being pretty damn scary. To top that off, we still need to get Kendrys and Joel back.
Texas needs to put a hold on their AL west clinching champagne shipment. These Angels are looking hungry and tough, and I hope they continue to underestimate us.