With the Angels seemingly headed back into the offensive doldrums, there has been a renewed focus on Mike Scioscia’s, ummm… interesting lineup decisions. Scioscia can talk in cliches and platitudes all he wants about trusting his veterans and knowing that they need to come around, but sooner or later, he has to realize that he is part of the problem.
The most frustrating part about this whole topic is that it really shouldn’t take much convincing, not to anyone capable of understanding even the most basic of baseball stats. Alas, Scioscia does not seem to be one of those people, how else do you explain the following numbers, which are the Angels’ production in OPS by lineup spot and where it ranks in the MLB and AL:
#1 = .714 OPS, 16th in MLB, 7th in AL
#2 = .701 OPS, 14th in MLB, 8th in AL
#3 = .747 OPS, 22nd in MLB, 11th in AL
#4 = .707 OPS, 25th in MLB, 11th in AL
#5 = .631 OPS, 28th in MLB, 14th in AL
#6 = .738 OPS, 15th in MLB, 6th in AL
#7 = .764 OPS, 3rd in MLB, 2nd in AL
#8 = .682 OPS, 14th in MLB, 7th in AL
#9 = .541 OPS, 16th in MLB, 14th in AL
With no elite offensive talent on the current roster, it should come as no surprise that they don’t rank highly in most spots, but to rank so poorly in so many is a bit of a shocker and a downright travesty because it could have been avoidable. As you can see, the heart of the lineup, the 3-4-5 spots, is the weakest spot in an already weak lineup. Why? Because Scioscia refuses to move the veteran triumverate of suck (Hunter, Abreu and Wells) out of those spots, though they do make the occassional cameo in the two-hole.
How is any team supposed to win with a middle of the order that is so terrible? I have a hard time believing Scioscia is unware of the total lack of production from those spots, but his steadfast refusal to make any changes suggests that he is unaware, or just incredibly stubborn and ignorant.
Hunter, Abreu and Wells need to hit somewhere since the Angels don’t have anyone to replace them with, but that doesn’t mean they need to stay in the middle of the order, not when they are actually getting production from other players lower in the order. Look at what the Halos are doing in the seven-hole, a spot largely occupied by Mark Trumbo. That is the best spot in the Angel order right now, which is just shameful since it isn’t in a prime run-producing slot. How much could the Angel offense improve if only Scioscia could take off his veteran-colored glasses and just swap Trumbo with Wells or Hunter.
Of course, we should know better than to trust in Scioscia’s offensive judgment by now. You didn’t think I was going to let that horrid production in the nine-hole go unnoticed did you? We all know that Mathis is the primary offender there and he has dragged the team’s nine-hole OPS down so far that there is one National League team (and thus a bunch of pitchers and pinch-hitters) who are producing better. If only there was some catcher the Angels had in the minors that could potentially replace Mathis and improve the lineup. Oh, right, there is, but once again Scioscia won’t ever pull the trigger due to blind loyalty.