There weren’t a whole lot of bright spots for the Angels in 2020. However, one of the biggest was seeing the development of their rookie, Jared Walsh. Though he appeared in only 32 games, Walsh finished seventh in Rookie of the Year voting in the American League. Had he played a handful of more games, he potentially could have made a case to finish first.
Walsh appeared in 31 games for the Halos in 2019 and struggled greatly. He barely hit above .200 and hit only one homer in 87 plate appearances. Fast forward a year, and he was fantastic for them. He appeared in 32 games, finishing with an OPS of just under 1.000 and nine home runs with 26 runs driven in.
Here’s where Walsh finished in regards to American League rookies with at least 32 games played:
- 9 home runs (3rd)
- 26 RBI (3rd)
- .970 OPS (1st)
- .646 SLG (1st)
Again, he missed essentially half the season. Had he not missed most of August, he likely takes home ROY honors.
Walsh began the season with the club, but was optioned to the alternate site on August 3. He was there for the majority of August, as he wasn’t recalled until August 28. It was at this point in which Walsh went on an absolute tear, and was one of the best hitters in all of the American League.
At the time of him getting optioned, Walsh was 0-for-10 on the year, not ideal. Through the first three games he returned, he went 0-for-3, extending his streak to begin the season to 13 consecutive at bats without a hit. Then, on September 2, everything began to click. Walsh appeared in 22 games for the month, and posted some incredible numbers.
He hit .337/.368/.744/1.113 with nine homers and 26 runs driven in. Remember all the stats I mentioned earlier? Yeah, they all came in the month of September. As I mentioned, not only was he the best rookie, he was arguably the best hitter in all the American League. His production didn’t go unnoticed, as he was named the A.L. Rookie of the Month.
Walsh had an eight-game run from September 6 through the 16th where he hit .471 with an OPS of above 1.600 while adding six homers and 15 RBI. I’m not quite sure how he didn’t win AL Player of the Week honors, but who knows.
During the incredible run, Walsh hit a home run in four consecutive games, including a walk-off blast.
“I’ve been more comfortable with more opportunities,” Walsh said to the media postgame when asked about his recent success. “It’s been pretty exciting. I want to savor this moment. I think it’s something I’m going to hold onto a long time and cherish.”
The Angels have something special in Walsh, they know that. With an already loaded lineup, if Walsh can build off what he did in 2020, he could be the kind of bat to give the Angels the best lineup in all of the American League.
Stats: .293/.324/.646/.971, 9 HR, 26 RBI, 19 R, 158 OPS+
Game of the year
After hitting a home run in three consecutive games, Walsh connected on this one in the 11th inning on September 12 to put the Halos ahead. It was his fourth straight game with a homer, and this go-ahead one gave the Angels the victory.
Walsh has one year and 10 days of service time. Assuming he stays healthy, he’ll be an every day player for the Angels moving forward.