There is a lot wrong with the Angels lineup right now, one big inning last night aside. And by “a lot” what I really mean is “everything.” That the offense is struggling should come as no surprise, but the fact that the offense is broken in just about every way possible is hard to fathom.
What makes it so hard to grok is that the Angels had the best offense in baseball in the first half. Not one of the best, the best, at least according to wRC+. Breaking it down further, the Angels did everything well. They had the second-best team batting average, the best on-base percentage, the third-best isolated power, the second-best wOBA and just plain the most runs scored in the first half. Their only real failing was that they were a below average baserunning team (thanks, Gary DiSarcina).
Fast forward to the second half of the season and everything has gone to shit. That league-best offense is now the league-worst offense. Batting average? Their now last. OBP? Next to last. ISO? Third-worst. wOBA? Dead last. wRC+? Next to last. Baserunning? The worst. They literally aren’t doing anything right.
Even on a more granular level, everything is getting worse. The Angels have one single solitary position player whose wOBA is higher in the second half than the first half. That would be David Freese who stands at .315 in the second half versus .303 in his miserable first half. Prior to the All-Star break, every Angel with over 100 plate appearances had a wOBA of .303 or better and wRC+ of 96 or better. The only exception was Raul Ibanez‘s corpse. In the second half, they have just three players with a wOBA over .300 or a wRC+ over 83 (Trout, Pujols, Freese).
In other words, you can kvetch all you want about Josh Hamilton or Erick Aybar or Howie Kendrick or Kole Calhoun or- well, you get my point. Everyone is at fault. Laying the blame on any one single player really just means that you have a personal bias against that player. They all suck, you should distribute your hate evenly. It’s the fair and balanced thing to do.
That’s what makes the daily hand-wringing over Scioscia’s lineup choices so silly. Whether you are upset that Pujols is batting third, Hamilton batting fourth, Aybar batting sixth or Conger batting at all, it isn’t as if there are great alternatives or even non-nauseating alternatives.
So what can the Halos do about it?
Honestly, all they can do is wait out. Sure, they can turn over the bottom of the roster with promotions of guys like Brennan Boesch, but that’s not going to do much. What they really need to do is just tread water until everyone snaps out of their respective slump and begins performing at their true talent level, like they did in the first half.
Maybe a few of the guys, like Calhoun, were playing above their head in the first half, but most of them were posting numbers generally in line with their career norms. Over a long enough timeline, everyone will regress to their norm. That’s an easy enough concept to accept, but it is a lot harder to accept it when in the current short timeline of 23 games, they are all playing so poorly. Right now, there is no end in sight. For all we know, it could change overnight, but it might also take a few more weeks. Regression to the mean likes to work on its own schedule, unfortunately.