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The heart of the Angels’ offensive struggles

As we all know far too well right now, the Angels pretty much stink. The only thing more surprising than the mere fact that they are so bad is the manner in which they have managed to be so disappointing. Yes, the pitching hasn't been very good, but a lot of people saw that coming. What people didn't predict was that their offense would be so underwhelming.

Last year, the Halos had one of the top offenses in all of baseball. All they really changed was replacing Torii Hunter with Josh Hamilton. Even with a potential decline from Hamilton, the thought was that the lineup should still be pretty good. That is how it should have played out, especially with Howie Kendrick and Peter Bourjos having career years at the plate. The problem is that they have had two very disappointing players in their lineup. Right smack dab in the middle of the lineup, to be precise.

Teams can handle disappointing players, but what they can't handle is having underachieving hitters occupying premium run production slots in the order. There is no more stark example of that than what Albert Pujols has done, or rather failed to do, batting third for the Halos.

Here is the production the Angels are getting from their three-hole hitters (almost entirely Pujols) in 2013, right up until Scioscia shook up the lineup over the weekend:

Rk   RC GS PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS TB GDP BAbip sOPS+
1 DET 67.9 58 274 239 47 88 15 1 17 66 2 0 32 38 .368 .445 .653 1.098 156 9 .384 165
2 COL 57.5 61 281 246 50 73 13 3 17 41 12 1 34 69 .297 .381 .581 .962 143 4 .348 132
3 CIN 54.2 60 279 228 47 74 10 1 10 28 2 1 47 55 .325 .444 .509 .953 116 5 .390 134
4 ARI 48.3 60 271 232 36 71 15 0 14 50 4 4 33 46 .306 .393 .552 .944 128 9 .326 129
5 BOS 45.3 61 274 239 42 79 18 0 4 33 8 2 34 33 .331 .412 .456 .868 109 9 .369 114
6 HOU 43.7 61 264 239 33 71 17 0 11 30 4 0 20 62 .297 .352 .506 .859 121 4 .355 108
7 WSN 43.6 59 247 218 37 64 8 1 15 31 2 2 28 42 .294 .372 .546 .918 119 5 .302 122
8 TOR 42.9 59 262 226 35 59 13 1 16 42 3 0 31 40 .261 .347 .540 .887 122 7 .247 113
9 ATL 40.9 60 266 223 43 57 8 1 14 32 5 1 39 70 .256 .368 .489 .857 109 8 .305 108
10 MIL 40.6 59 261 230 32 68 13 3 11 41 5 5 28 53 .296 .375 .522 .897 120 11 .341 117
11 CLE 38.8 59 261 236 37 67 26 1 6 34 6 1 18 57 .284 .338 .479 .817 113 5 .347 98
12 CHW 37.4 58 253 228 32 65 14 1 10 32 8 4 24 39 .285 .353 .487 .840 111 7 .307 104
13 MIN 37.2 57 258 212 30 52 9 0 11 37 1 1 35 62 .245 .372 .443 .815 94 5 .291 100
14 NYM 36.0 56 242 209 30 54 6 4 8 31 11 1 29 45 .258 .355 .440 .796 92 3 .293 94
15 BAL 35.8 60 268 245 36 70 13 0 11 35 2 2 20 30 .286 .340 .473 .813 116 11 .286 97
16 PIT 35.8 60 258 231 37 63 16 0 8 30 14 3 21 34 .273 .341 .446 .787 103 6 .288 92
17 SEA 35.4 61 269 239 30 65 15 0 9 30 0 0 24 42 .272 .349 .448 .797 107 11 .296 94
18 SFG 35.3 59 262 244 31 75 12 1 8 43 0 0 12 28 .307 .341 .463 .804 113 11 .318 95
19 SDP 34.3 60 266 225 28 57 15 0 7 26 3 2 31 52 .253 .357 .413 .770 93 6 .296 89
20 CHC 34.2 57 247 222 30 55 17 2 10 40 3 3 22 46 .248 .324 .477 .801 106 3 .271 93
21 STL 34.1 60 266 228 42 61 9 1 9 38 1 0 31 35 .268 .361 .434 .795 99 13 .278 94
22 KCR 33.6 57 247 213 26 63 11 0 4 34 3 3 29 40 .296 .381 .404 .784 86 5 .343 94
23 OAK 32.0 62 288 256 37 59 13 1 10 39 4 2 28 57 .230 .313 .406 .719 104 7 .258 75
24 PHI 32.0 61 260 222 29 56 12 3 4 22 7 1 37 34 .252 .358 .387 .745 86 8 .281 84
25 TEX 30.9 59 257 224 30 58 11 1 5 36 0 0 33 45 .259 .354 .384 .738 86 6 .305 82
26 NYY 30.1 60 257 240 29 59 6 0 15 34 4 2 14 47 .246 .296 .458 .754 110 7 .247 81
27 LAD 29.6 59 256 234 24 63 14 0 7 30 3 0 19 47 .269 .320 .419 .739 98 10 .306 80
28 TBR 27.6 59 262 228 33 52 12 1 6 40 4 0 24 50 .228 .305 .368 .674 84 5 .258 65
29 LAA 27.2 60 270 238 32 57 14 0 9 36 0 1 24 36 .239 .307 .412 .719 98 13 .241 75
30 MIA 26.3 60 259 228 26 51 7 1 7 20 2 0 27 56 .224 .317 .355 .672 81 6 .267 65
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 6/7/2013.

As you can see, the Angels are next-to-last in runs created in all of baseball. In terms of OPS+, they are only slightly better, checking in at 28th. Whether you are old school or new school, getting that pathetic return from one of the most important spots in the lineup is incredibly difficult to overcome. If you look at the other teams around the Halos, many of them are amongst the worst offenses in the league. There are some decent offenses like Texas and Tampa there too though, so it apparently isn't a complete death sentence.

Where the real trouble comes to play for the Angels is that they have not one, but two black holes in the heart of the order. Here is where their production ranks out of the cleanup spot:

Rk   RC GS PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS TB GDP BAbip sOPS+
1 COL 64.8 61 274 245 43 84 18 0 19 63 3 1 21 43 .343 .394 .649 1.043 159 2 .346 159
2 BOS 51.2 61 269 246 44 79 23 2 16 63 2 1 22 47 .321 .375 .626 1.001 154 14 .342 149
3 DET 46.7 58 266 221 32 64 14 0 12 48 0 1 36 53 .290 .398 .516 .914 114 6 .327 131
4 TBR 46.4 59 256 234 40 76 19 2 9 35 0 0 19 52 .325 .375 .538 .913 126 6 .383 129
5 TEX 45.3 59 251 236 37 75 15 0 14 33 2 0 14 29 .318 .355 .559 .914 132 6 .314 128
6 BAL 43.7 60 261 247 46 75 18 0 12 41 7 0 12 50 .304 .341 .522 .863 129 5 .341 116
7 OAK 41.5 62 277 242 39 68 13 2 10 37 0 3 25 58 .281 .354 .475 .829 115 3 .324 109
8 STL 40.8 60 261 241 35 76 17 2 6 43 1 0 16 40 .315 .364 .477 .841 115 7 .357 113
9 ATL 39.5 60 257 231 36 66 13 1 10 50 0 0 22 58 .286 .354 .481 .835 111 5 .341 111
10 CIN 39.1 60 274 240 41 69 14 0 10 49 2 2 22 41 .288 .352 .471 .822 113 8 .303 108
11 PIT 38.4 60 252 225 23 65 16 0 8 40 1 1 21 53 .289 .345 .467 .812 105 1 .337 105
12 SEA 38.0 61 264 248 29 68 12 0 16 39 0 0 14 62 .274 .318 .516 .834 128 8 .306 108
13 WSN 37.5 59 242 210 31 56 9 3 8 36 4 0 30 54 .267 .360 .452 .812 95 1 .322 106
14 CLE 36.5 59 258 222 36 56 14 1 9 28 0 0 31 55 .252 .349 .446 .795 99 3 .294 101
15 SFG 36.1 59 253 220 25 58 13 0 9 31 4 0 27 40 .264 .348 .445 .793 98 4 .282 101
16 MIN 33.8 57 253 230 26 66 17 1 5 36 0 0 16 47 .287 .340 .435 .775 100 6 .337 96
17 SDP 32.7 60 261 227 32 59 13 0 7 24 2 1 26 42 .260 .338 .410 .748 93 5 .286 90
18 ARI 32.3 60 267 229 28 62 10 2 6 31 2 0 28 45 .271 .341 .410 .751 94 10 .299 91
19 CHC 31.9 57 240 226 28 64 18 0 7 25 9 3 10 47 .283 .321 .456 .777 103 5 .329 95
20 LAD 31.6 59 247 217 21 63 12 0 4 33 4 1 20 50 .290 .348 .401 .749 87 5 .347 91
21 MIA 31.0 60 251 227 25 60 11 2 5 27 6 2 18 46 .264 .328 .396 .724 90 2 .311 84
22 TOR 30.2 59 258 235 32 59 9 0 12 40 2 0 19 45 .251 .310 .443 .753 104 10 .261 89
23 PHI 29.1 61 253 230 26 57 14 1 8 32 1 1 17 74 .248 .296 .422 .718 97 3 .320 80
24 NYY 28.5 60 251 223 30 52 8 0 9 31 2 0 24 73 .233 .315 .390 .705 87 4 .303 79
25 LAA 27.8 60 267 236 30 49 9 1 13 35 2 2 25 70 .208 .285 .419 .704 99 6 .229 76
26 HOU 27.2 61 256 235 29 56 6 1 8 23 1 1 20 92 .238 .297 .374 .671 88 1 .353 70
27 MIL 25.1 59 254 228 18 55 16 1 3 28 4 1 24 51 .241 .315 .360 .675 82 9 .297 72
28 KCR 24.5 57 242 218 21 55 12 1 2 23 1 0 23 39 .252 .322 .344 .666 75 5 .298 71
29 CHW 23.3 58 247 214 24 38 8 0 12 37 1 0 28 72 .178 .271 .383 .654 82 4 .194 64
30 NYM 20.3 56 239 222 24 45 10 0 8 27 1 0 16 66 .203 .255 .356 .611 79 3 .248 54
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 6/7/2013.

This is a slot that has been split between Josh Hamilton and Mark Trumbo this year. Trumbo is having a very good season, but as you can see by their 25th ranking in RC and  OPS+, Hamilton dug a pretty deep whole for Trumbo to dig his way out of. That swap of Trumbo and Hamilton at the four and five slots might've helped a little, but clearly it didn't do much.

Looking at those numbers, it is a miracle that the Angels have even scored as many runs as they have. Having a premier tablesetter definitely helps, but the Halos just aren't setting their lineup in a way to fully take advantage of the greatness that is Mike Trout. That is why it is almost comical to see so much hand-wringing over whether or not Trout should bat leadoff or second. With Pujols and Hamilton batting directly behind him, be they batting second, third, fourth or fifth, that is like worrying about whether or not you have top of the line tires on your Dodge Dart.

Ideally, Scioscia could rectify the situation by moving Pujols and Hamilton down in the order until they straighten themselves out, but given that Sosh's recent attempt at a fix involved moving Hamilton to second in the order, that probably is never going to happen. And until Scioscia wises up or the two supposed sluggers start playing like we expected, expect the Halos offense to continue to sputter.

Garrett Wilson

About Garrett Wilson

Garrett Wilson is the Supreme Overlord of Monkeywithahalo.com and editor at The Outside Corner. He's an Ivy League graduate, but not from one of the impressive ones. You shouldn't make him angry. You wouldn't like him when he is angry.

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