As the season wears on, the Angels are creeping closer to .500. They started the season a spectacular 13-3 but since then have been playing 6 games under .500 at 16-22. Let’s take a look at what was expected vs. what we are seeing at this point in the season in regards to individual players. Not included: Any pitchers with less than 17 innings or hitters with less than 50 ABs.
Better than expected
Mike Trout is on pace to hit 50+ home runs, steal 30+ bases, and have his best WAR season ever. It’s hard to say he is better than expected when you expect a lot from the best player in baseball, yet here he is. Oh - AND he’s on track to have his best fielding season ever.
Andrelton Simmons is hitting .337 with a .403. No one saw him leading the team in batting average. He’s also struck out less than half the times he has walked. He’s at career high rates in AVG, OBP, BB%, SLG, and on base for his best WAR season ever as well as his lowest K rate of his career.
Matin Maldonado is hitting .250 with a .312 OBP. These numbers are well above his career average and much better than his 2017 season. His power is down but he is getting on base much more than was expected - at least so far. Last year he tore out of the gate as well and slumped in the second half of the season.
Most people expected Albert Pujols to decline again in this his age
49 38 season. Instead, he has about the same K and BB rate as last year and his OBP is currently identical. His WAR is slightly negative but much improved from 2017. He’s on pace to hit about the same number of home runs though his RBIs are way down (thanks to all the Trout and Upton home runs in front of him). So yeah he’s not have a “great” season but I’d say it’s better than expected.
Tyler Skaggs may be starting to show some crack, but to date he has been much better than any of us saw coming. He leads the team in innings at 60 and has a 3.60 ERA with a 1.28 WHIP. He has also struck out 64.
Andrew Heaney is finally looking like the real deal. His 3.09 ERA leads regular starters and he’s struck out 51 over 46.2 innings. He has a pretty respectable 1.20 WHIP and has only allowed 4 home runs.
Based on spring training, the expectations for Shohei Ohtani were lowered a bit, but he’s been mostly lights out on the mound with 52 Ks over 40.1 innings and has a 3.35 ERA with a 1.07 WHIP. His bat has been faltering recently, but he still has a .376 OBP, 6 home runs, and 14 walks.
Still only 21 years old, Jaime Barria has a 2.97 ERA (but 4.33 FIP) and a 4-1 record in 6 starts. Not sure how long he’ll be able to hold on to those type of numbers but that’s definitely better than any predictions for him this year.
Keynan Middleton is now out with TJ surgery and that sucks. He was looking to be the closer the Angels needed this year and was performing better than the models predicted and better than his 2017 season.
Jose Alvarez is prone to some majestic blowups but his K rate is up, BB rate is down, ERA an FIP are down, LOB is up, and he already has more WAR in 2018 than he had all of last year.
I nearly put Noe Ramirez in the next section but his FIP is only 2.30 this year which is the best of his career. He also is nearly +2 on his K/9 rate from 2017 and already has .6 WAR.
About as expected
Justin Upton is as advertised. He’s streaky, has some good pop and is an okay outfielder He’s hit 11 home runs with a .251 AVG and is leading the team in Ks, but this is who Justin Upton is. Wait until the 4th/5th years of his contract :)
Jefry Marte started out hot but has settled back to near identical numbers to his 2016 season. He’s been good, but not lately.
Rene Rivera is out until August after he had meniscus surgery but he was performing not too far off from his 2017 season and just a bit above predictions. His K rate is up 6% this year though, but otherwise he looks like last year’s version of himself.
Maybe some had more lofty expectations for Jim Johnson, but I’d say he’s about who he should be. His ERA is down but so is his K rate and he’s had a bit better luck with BABIP. His currently numbers are nearly identical to the ZIPS and Steamer predictions.
Nick Tropeano hasn’t been spectacular, but his 3.86 ERA is decent and a bit lower than projections but higher than what he put up in 2016.
Worse than expected
We probably shouldn’t talk about how well Moustakas is doing, but the Angels needed Zack Cozart AND his versatility. His numbers are in line with his career averages but much lower than his 2017 All Star season. He’s on pace to hit about 10 fewer home runs than last year and is hitting 60 points lower.
Kole Calhoun’s decline started last year and has hit a fever pace this season, which is too bad considering how great his fielding has been. It’s hard to justify a .153 AVG and .201 OBP in your lineup for much longer.
I had pretty low expectations for Ian Kinsler and he’s managed to top them (bottom them?) Like Calhoun, it’s hard to justify a guy in your lineup that hits .179 and has already ground into almost as many double plays as he did all last season.
I also had pretty low expectations for Luis Valbuena and he too has been worse. His average is still up about 20 points from last year but his OB P is down to just .268. He’s also on pace to only hit about 12 home runs after knocking out 22 last year. His K rate has gone WAY up and he hardly ever walks.
Cam Bedrosian wasn’t good last year and he’s not that good this year. Sure his ERA is down but his FIP is 5.25. His K rate has dropped 3+ per 9 innings and his walk rate is up. He’s also giving up home runs at a higher clip. Despite his lower ERA, most of his numbers are much worse than last year and he has a -.3 WAR
We really need Garrett Richards to be at least “more” ace like but in 11 games and 54 innings he’s already walked 28 batters and has 14 wild pitches which is on place to shatter his previous record. Richards is currently sitting on his worst FIP and WHIP over his past 5 years.
Blake Parker went from lights out last year to lights on this year. He’s starting to come around a bit but his ERA is higher, his FIP is higher, and his WHIP has skyrocketed from 0.832 to 1.297.
There you have it. Some pleasant surprises but too many duds. Having 4 regular guys in your lineup act like anchors is not helping matters - nor is your “ace” or lights-out bullpen piece from last year both having struggles.