The third baseman that every Angel fan fantasizes about replacing did nothing to help his cause last season, but could a bounceback season be in store for Alberto Callaspo in 2013?
2012 Stats: 520 PA, .252 AVG, .331 OBP, .361 SLG, 55 R, 10 HR, 53 RBI, 4 SB, 3 CS, 59 K, .308 wOBA, 98 OPS+, 2.7 fWAR
2013 ZiPS Projections: 553 PA, .265 AVG, .330 OBP, .376 SLG, 58 R, 10 HR, 55 RBI, 5 SB, 2 CS, 49 K, .307 wOBA, 99 OPS+, 2.7 fWAR
2013 Bill James Projections: 496 PA, .265 AVG, .337 OBP, .386 SLG, 54 R, 8 HR, 48 RBI, 4 SB, 3 CS, 49 K, .319 wOBA
2013 CAIRO Projections: 565 PA, .259 AVG, .325 OBP, .365 SLG, 58 R, 9 HR, 58 RBI, 5 SB, 2 CS, 59 K, .309 wOBA
2013 MWAH Projections*: 565 PA, .268 AVG, .343 OBP, .373 SLG, 65 R, 7 HR, 57 RBI, 2 SB,2 CS, 52 K, .319 wOBA
*The MWAH projections are simply my best guess based off my own personal opinion and research (my wOBA calculation is approximate)
2012 in Objective Review:
After something of a breakout season in 2011, Alberto Callaspo took a step back in 2012. His .692 OPS was the second-lowest of his career while his .252 average and .361 slugging percentage were both career-lows. Alas, Callaspo still managed to post a respectable 2.7 fWAR, but that was almost entirely based on his glove as his oWAR was actually in the negatives.
As bad as he was though, Callaspo did have his moments. He inherited the mantle of uncannily clutch hitter from Maicer Izturis last season with his crowning achievement being a completely unexpected game-winning grand slam off of Felix Hernandez.
With a measly .252 batting average and virtually no power to go with it, the only thing that saved Callaspo's season was his respectable .331 OBP. That was a far cry from his .366 OBP the season before, but it was still enough to merit keeping his glove on the field. Being that patient is something relatively new for Callaspo though and it showed in his swing and contract rates. His 39% swing rate was easily the lowest of his career (and one of the lowest in the entire league), but so was his 91% contact rate. All those taken pitches and reduced contact rates resulted in a noticeable spike in his strikeout rate, bringing it to over 11%. In relative terms, he still makes a ton of contact and still seldom strikes out, but it does suggest that perhaps part of the reason he struggled was because he was being a little too patient.
2012 in Revisionist History:
This wasn't the worst of Callaspo's worst seasons as an Angel, but it sure felt like it. I imagine a lot of that had to do with inconsistency. Just take a look at his OPS from month-to-month:
That's bloody maddening! Pretty great or completely awful without a whole lot in between. It didn't help that his platoon splits greatly favored him against southpaws whereas his splits had been the other way around in previous seasons. Just to make things even more confusing is that Callaspo somehow found a way to be a worse hitter on the road even though the Big A is a pitcher's park. Now I know why people get so bent out of shape over Callaspo; you just don't know what he brings to the table because it always changes.
He did, however, show some consistency in two important areas. For the second straight season he walked in over 10% of his plate appearances, which is a big step up from his previous season. That two straight seasons part is significant too because it strongly indicates that this increase in patience is here to stay. The other thing he did well was field his position. They say it takes time for advanced defensive metrics to stabilize. Well, after three years of being a full-timer at the hot corner, the jury is in and it turns out Callaspo really is a very good, but not great, defender. He doesn't do it with flash, but he makes all the plays asked of him and then some.
Three Lingering Questions for 2013:
1) Are the Angels really stuck with Callaspo as the full-time third baseman?
Yes, now stop complaining about it. We all know that Callaspo doesn't do anything flashy or special or really even much above average, but he does do what is asked of him. I know that isn't a ringing endorsement, but his two-year contract is. So learn to live with him for a little while because Luis Jimenez isn't going to replace him and neither is Bill Hall or anyone else in the Angels decrepit farm system until Kaleb Cowart is ready. In fact, third base is something of a wasteland of talent in the majors as a whole, so by comparison Callaspo really isn't that bad. In summary, quit your bitching.
2) Where is Callaspo going to hit in the order?
Ah, this again. I wrote recently that this topic really isn't worth debating, but I know that isn't going to stop any of you. Insolent bastards. Anyway, by all rights, Callaspo should probably bat second since he works counts, makes contact and gets on base at a decent clip. However, he isn't really the prototypical two-hole hitter, so Scioscia is bound to resist that idea and instead stash Alberto in the six- or seven-hole.
3) What the hell is going on with his platoon splits?
In 2010, Callaspo could barely hit against lefties. In 2011, his platoon splits were pretty even. In 2012, he crushed lefties and struggled against righties, just like he did in 2009. None of what I just wrote there makes any god damned sense! It actually makes Callaspo incredibly hard to manage since one cannot determine not only if he should have a platoon partner but what side of the plate said platoon partner should swing from in order to properly complement Beto.
Three Irrelevant Questions for 2013:
1) If Vernon Wells wasn't around, would Callaspo be the least likeable Angel?
Maybe I'm just out of touch because I'm residing so high up on the moral high ground, but people seem to be more offended by Callaspo's lack of dingers than they are the (alleged) facts that Alberto has been arrested for DUI, arrested for slapping around his wife and sued for child support by a woman who is very noticeably not his wife. One could argue that we should have more venom for Callaspo than we do for Vernon Wells, who is a pious, altruistic man whose only sin was allowing himself to be wildly overpaid by the Blue Jays a few years ago. Yet Vernon is the one that gets heckled while Callaspo elicits nothing more than a smattering of "meh."
2) When he screws up, is he AlbertLOL Callaspo or Alberto CallaspLOL or Alberto CaLOLspo?
The internet has not been able to come to a consensus on this yet. I'm willing to open it up to a public vote if need be. Perhaps we just need to combine them all and go with AlbertLOL CaLOLspLOL?
3) Given what his walk-up music is, can we convince the stadium sound and music guy to play a reggaeton horn every time Alberto gets a hit?
This just needs to happen.
2013 in Subjective Projection:
The smart money is on Callaspo rebounding some in 2013. His splits are obviously all over the map, but it is hard to imagine him having another year where his road numbers are beneath his home numbers. I'd also like to think that we'd see some stabilization in his platoon splits, but that might just me trying to force some logic into an illogical situation. Unfortunately, it seems that Callaspo's numbers are tied heavily to his BABIP which has been alternating between .310 and .270 the last four years. What's interesting to note about Callaspo in 2012 was that his xBABIP was, you guessed it, .310! So it does seem a lot of his struggles could be blamed on bad luck. Even if his BABIP ticks up to just .290 this coming season, it should come with a pretty nice bump in batting average and OBP that theoretically would make him a perfect fit in the two-hole but for the fact that Mike Scioscia seems more infatuated with Aybar's speed, even his OBP drops below .300.
One underrated aspect of the Angels letting Maicer Izturis go to Toronto is that they now have virtually no depth behind Callaspo at third. Technically, Andrew Romine can field the position, but nobody wants his limp bat in the lineup more than necessary. There is Luis Jimenez, but the organization doesn't seem real high on him. The only real hope is veteran utilityman Bill Hall, but he needs to actually make the roster first. Otherwise, we could be looking at 600+ plate appearances for Callaspo with nobody around to spell him when he goes into one of his many slumps. That's going to take a toll on Callaspo's numbers since Scioscia won't be able to hide him against bad matchups as much in 2013 unless a bench player steps up.