The regular season is over and the Angels are headed for another ALDS showdown with the Red Sox, but before we get to far ahead of ourselves, let’s take a look back at the regular season that was and hand out some rewards in the process. So, without further adieu, allow me to present the first annual Monkeys, honoring the best (and some of the worst) Angel performers of the season:
Slugging Monkey (Best Hitter): On sheer numbers alone this is the easiest call of them all. All other Halo hitters pale in comparison to Kendry Morales who ends the season leading the Angels in home runs (34), RBIs (108) and OPS (.924) and narrowly missing out on leading the team in batting average (.306). Of course, if anyone would’ve have predicted that at the beginning of the season, they would have been laughed out of the room. But K-Mo has been crushing the ball all over the field game number 1 to game number 162 and has clearly established himself as the new heart of the Angel offense… even if Mike Scioscia refuses to bat him higher than fifth in the order. – Kendry Morales
Morales smash! Morales smash good!!!
Gloved Monkey (Best Fielder): This is a real toss up. Both Erick Aybar and Chone Figgins had fantastic seasons with the leather, both making highlight reel plays on a regular basis. But when push comes to shove Aybar’s highlight reel plays were a little more impressive and a little more frequent at a tougher defensive position. He did make some real boneheaded blunders early in the year but quickly cleaned up those mistakes and is now so well thought of in the Angel organization that they wouldn’t give him up in a potential Roy Halladay trade. – Erick Aybar
Hurling Monkey (Best Starting Pitcher): John Lackey is still the Angels’ ace, but Weaver bested him this year. Jered set career-best marks in wins, strikeouts, innings pitched, ERA and WHIP. It is no coincidence either that all those marks led the Angel starting rotation as well. Best of all, Weaver was the only Angel pitcher that didn’t miss extended time with an injury or go through a prolonged slump or both. Really, without him keeping the starting rotation’s collective head above water all season long, the Angels may not have even made the playoffs. – Jered Weaver
I’d be screaming too if I had as good a season as Weaver just had.
Relief Monkey (Best Relief Pitcher): Kevin Jepsen was probably the best Angel reliever by the end of the season, but it took him half the season to get there. There is one and only one Halo reliever that was highly effective from beginning to end and that is Old Man Oliver. With Scot Shields getting hurt and the Angel bullpen crumbling all around him, DO stepped up from his role as a decent middle reliever to dominant set-up man. – Darren Oliver
Sad Monkey (Most Disappointing Player): Yes, he was an All-Star and led the league in saves, but Brian Fuentes is easily the most disappointing Angel this year. After a strong first half to the season, the AL hitters made their adjustments and started battering Tito every time out. Things were so bad for Fuentes by the end of the season that Mike Scioscia threatened to split closing duties between him and Jepsen, though he never really followed through on it. Even with his big money contract, expect him to be in a fight for the closer job next season, assuming he even survives the post-season. – Brian Fuentes
Alpha Monkey (Most Valuable Player): Abreu didn’t have flashy power numbers, but he was an incredibly consistent run producer for the Angels all season long, especially when the Halos lost Vladimir Guerrero and Torii Hunter to injuries at various times. But that isn’t why he is the team MVP. Since Spring Training, all anyone on the roster has said about Bobby is what an amazing teacher of hitting he is. His mentoring finally bestowed some patience on a historically impatient Angel line-up. Under his tutelage the Angels produced their first 100+ walk player since 2001 (Chone Figgins) and set a new franchise record for runs in a season. Without him, the Angels are probably looking at yet another season of mediocre offense centered around sacrifice flies instead of a line-up that might be able to slug its way to a title. – Bobby Abreu
Thanks for everything, Bobby. Let’s do it again next year.