The Angels talked a big game this off-season about shaking up their offensive attack to rely more on aggressiveness and situational hitting, just like in the Scioscia glory days. That seemed like a smart idea after their commitment to “batter’s box” offense failed so miserably in 2010. The funny thing about ideas though is that they are only as good as their actual execution and thus far the Halos aren’t executing the plan that Scioscia drew up… at all.
Consider these stats for the 2010 Angels:
Now take a look at how the 2011 Angels have performed offensively through 15 games:
Are you seeing what I’m seeing?
The most obvious concern is that this year’s Angels are actually averaging fewer runs per game (4 per game) than last year’s decrepit lineup (4.2 per game) even though the 2011 Angels have a batting average 17 points higher and an ISO a full 24 points higher. Uh oh.
I don’t think anyone was expecting the lineup to improve dramatically, but this is a foreboding revelation. Yes, the run output should eventually pick up and start matching the overall performance of the batters a little better, but my concern comes from the fact that the Halos thus far are essentially following the same blueprint that failed them last season.
Let’s start with the walk rate, something the team was focused on improving upon in 2010. That year, they Halos drew a walk in 7.7% of plate appearances. This year, that rate has held firm, which isn’t a bad thing, but it certainly doesn’t suggest that the hitters have adopted a more aggressive approach.
The 2010 team was also hoping to rely more on power production, but that obviously didn’t work out. This year though, they seem to have errantly stumbled across the power they wanted last season as was demonstrated by the boost in ISO mentioned earlier. Again, more power is good, but it wasn’t really what the Angels were shooting for. What they wanted was improved situational hitting. Yeah, not so much.
In almost every situational hitting measure, the Angels have gotten appreciably worse. Making productive outs? 37% success in 2010 versus 30% in 2011. Avoiding doubleplays? 89% avoidance in 2010 versus 81% in 2011. And then there is just plain old hitting with runners in scoring position. The Angels’ 2010 slash line in that scenario was a meager .242/.323/.379 but the 2011 Halos have somehow managed to be worse than that, posting a slash line of .232/.306/.341. I believe the word you are looking for is “FAIL.”
OK, fine, the bats haven’t heated up yet, I’m willing to entertain that notion. Surely the team is getting back to their old habit of burning up the basepaths and shying away from their station-to-station mindset of 2010, right? Again, not so much. The Halos attempted 156 steals in 162 games last year but have managed to only attempt 11 swipes in 15 contests this year, despite the lineup posting a better batting averages and OBP which should mean more steal opportunities. In fact, the Angels attempted a steal in over 7% of their opportunities in 2010 but have seen that drop to just over 5% this year.
I know we are dealing with a small sample size for this season, but in almost every facet of the game, the Angels appear to be doing the exact opposite of what they claimed they were going to do coming into the season. The aggressive baserunning hasn’t shown up and the situational hitting has been poor. If not for the “batter’s box” offense they’ve generated thus far, the Angels offense would be even more pathetic than it already is.