The Angels failed to reach the postseason for the 4th year in a row. The teams pitching has been (repeatedly) identified as the weak link and rightly so it seems. Our offense was a tick above average at 6th best in the AL (behind Boston, Detroit, Oakland, Baltimore and Cleveland). Our pitching a little below average coming in at 5th worst in the AL (ahead of Houston, Minnesota, Toronto and Seattle).
So what, right? We are a mediocre team with an insane payroll. We make small market teams feel good about their thrifty ways because Arte keeps making crazy moves like signing Pujols and Hamilton while passing on Zack Greinke, Yu Darvish, Ervin Santana, etc... Sure, all sound valid. But what has changed from 2006-2009 when the postseason was a lock each year and can we fix it, or is 2014 a wasted season while we rebuild?
I decided to take a look at our runs scored and runs allowed since that is what wins and loses games. Chance, poor management, "clutchness," all figure in to actual wins and losses, but in terms of a Front office giving a team a real chance at the playoffs, the team needs to be built to score more runs than it allows. How many more was my first question, and how far off are we was my second. For example, here are the AL playoff teams runs from this season (with that as a percentage to the right):
|Red Sox (96-65)||853||656||0.565|
|Tampa Bay (92-71)||700||646||0.520|
All the playoff bound teams except for tampa bay and Cleveland are over or right at a 100 runs better than their opposition mark. Tampa is notoriously well managed (used to be us when Joe Maddon was here....) and the Indians often seemed lucky and both slipped in as wild cards anyway.
So now we have a baseline to look for- 100 runs more than allowed. This 100 runs mark equates to somewhere around a runs scored vs runs allowed percentage of .530. With that in mind, here are is our runs chart for the last 7 years:
|Year||Win Pct||Scored||Allowed||Runs Pct|
This chart gives a very different picture of what is holding this team back from the years of angels baseball. The "small ball" teams could score runs and Scioscia's "batters box offense" cant keep up. While offense has decreased a little (5-7% since 2007) around the league since 2007, the Angels are simply not scoring the runs they did when the postseason was a given each year. Maybe the angels were right to go after offense instead of pitching last offseason.
So do we have a chance? If offense is our problem, contrary to what we have believed, where can we make up ground and which players can fill these spots either internally, via trade or via free agency?
A quick look at the rosters of 2007 vs 2013 shows one major area where offense is a weakness now that wasn't then- Third Base. Chone Figgins was great. Alberto Callaspo, for all our want to believe in him, did not cut it offensively. If the Halos can get more offense out of third base this year (green, nelson, jimenez, etc...), combined with a healthy Pujols, Hamilton looking like he did in august and september instead of april and may, they have a very real chance to make the playoffs again. Dumping Joe Blanton and finding ways to keep El Gran Catorce from throwing away wins would obviously help also.
This gave me some hope going into 2014. Albert Pujols should be back. Josh Hamilton should be at least a little better. If Grant Green or Luis Jimenez can make 3B an offensive strength we have a very real chance to throw up 100 more runs than we allow this year and make the playoffs for the first time in a while.