After years of being simply a teacher’s pet for Mike Scioscia, Maicer Izturis got a real opportunity to establish himself as an everyday player in 2009 and did not disappoint. Now that he has the faith of everyone in Angel Nation, Izturis heads into 2010 hoping to build on that success. But where will Izturis find the at-bats he deserves? That answer and more as Mighty Maicer gets the Player Preview treatment.
2009 Stats: 387 AB, .300 AVG, 74 R, 8 HR, 65 RBI, 13 SB, .794 OPS
2010 Bill James Projections: 446 AB, .283 AVG, 70 R, 6 HR, 65 RBI, 14 SB, .740 OPS
2010 Chone Projections: 383 AB, .279 AVG, 62 R, 6 HR, 56 RBI, 10 SB, .740 OPS
2010 Marcel Projections: 402 AB, .281 AVG, 64 R, 8 HR, 53 RBI, 12 SB, .752 OPS
2010 Monkey Projections*: 310 AB, .290 AVG, 55 R, 4 HR, 40 RBI, 8 SB, .775 OPS
*All stats courtesy of FanGraphs.com except the Monkey Projections which are strictly based on my own knowledge, logic and intuition.
2009 Review: A case could be made that Maicer Izturis was the secret MVP of the 2009 Angels. While his numbers were hardly eye-popping, Maicer Izturis stepped up his game when the Angels were most in need, putting together a very productive season in the process. The Angels looked to be in dire straights early in the season when Erick Aybar was scuffling at the plate and Howie Kendrick was earning himself a ticket back to the minors, but Izturis filled those holes quite admirably as both players worked themselves back into top form, giving the Angels three very good middle infielders by season’s end. In fact, Izturis was so valuable in 2009, the team awarded him with a three-year contract this winter. Not only did Izturis give Mike Scioscia his precious defensive versatility, but he also gave him offensive options either as a patient hitter at the top of the order or as an impact situational hitter in the bottom of the order.
3 Questions for 2010:
- How often will Maicer play? Maybe the stat guys know something we don’t because they all predict him to get career-highs in at-bats or pretty close to it. Personally, I think it is a huge unknown for Izzy this year. Howie Kendrick probably deserves to play everyday after his breakout second half last year and Erick Aybar is pretty well entrenched at shortstop. Maicer’s big opportunity for playing time will be at third base, but if Brandon Wood impresses, he will start getting the lion’s share of those ABs as well. I know that Scioscia loves Maicer, but there are very realistic scenarios possible this year that will make it very hard for Sosh to get Mighty Maicer into the game. Then again, it is possible that Wood could be a bust or Kendrick could regress again or Aybar or Kendrick could get hurt (as they have in the past) and Izturis could get loads of playing time again. Really, it is anyone’s guess.
- Where will Maicer play? The easy answer is everywhere, but where will he play the most? Izturis is probably most valuable defensively at second base, but the readily available innings are at third base. Then again, the Angels may not be able to afford having a powerless bat at that position if Matsui gets old in a hurry or Kendry Morales regresses at the plate. Frankly, UZR suggests that Maicer may not actually be that good defensively at third and with Brandon Wood potentially a very good defender at the hot corner, that Angels might not have a choice but to play Izzy more in the middle of the infield.
- Will the competition for playing time be counter-productive? Having depth is good, but not if it creates undue pressure on the players. Howie Kendrick really struggled with his confidence last season and it got him sent to the minors. He only rebounded after he managed to rebuild that confidence. But what if he finds himself potentially losing his starting gig to Izturis? Will he crack under the pressure again? And what about Brandon Wood? His power stroke is the kind of swing that will only produce if he is getting regular playing time. If Izturis and Wood are constantly switching off as starters, Wood is never going to be able to find the consistency he needs to establish himself as a major leaguer.
2010 Preview: Let’s face it, Mike Scioscia loves him some Maicer and he is going to find a way to get him plenty of at-bats. I don’t think he will set a new career-high in ABs, but he will play a few times a week which is probably the best role for Izzy. The Angels are kind of a young team now and they really need to commit to that youth if the organization is going grow. For that reason, I don’t think we will see Maicer entering a platoon situation with Howie Kendrick, who seems to be on the verge of tapping into his vast potential, or Brandon Wood, who should be given every opportunity to establish himself this year. Instead, Izturis will be used liberally to give Aybar, Kendrick, Wood and maybe Morales (with Wood moving to first) days off. Beyond that, Scioscia will give Izturis extra starts whenever the top of the order needs a boost of patience. This may not be what Maicer wants, but it will keep his stats looking good since he has the tendency to wear down when he plays a lot. Depth was the key to the Angels’ success last season and it will be again this year with Izturis leading the charge off the bench.