SI Vault
 
1 LOS ANGELES ANGELS
BEN REITER
April 05, 2010
PLAYER TO WATCH
Decrease font Decrease font
Enlarge font Enlarge font
April 05, 2010

1 Los Angeles Angels

View CoverRead All Articles
B-T BA OBP SLG HR RBI SB
SS ERICK AYBAR
S-R .312 .353 .423 5 58 14
RF BOBBY ABREU
L-R .293 .390 .435 15 103 30
CF TORII HUNTER
R-R .299 .366 .508 22 90 18
DH HIDEKI MATSUI [New acquisition]
L-R .274 .367 .509 28 90 0
1B KENDRY MORALES
S-R .306 .355 .569 34 108 3
LF JUAN RIVERA
R-R .287 .332 .478 25 88 0
2B HOWIE KENDRICK
R-R .291 .334 .444 10 61 11
C MIKE NAPOLI
R-R .272 .350 .492 20 56 3
3B BRANDON WOOD
R-R .195 .267 .293 1 3 0
BENCH
IF MAICER IZTURIS
S-R .300 .359 .434 8 65 13
C JEFF MATHIS
R-R .211 .288 .308 5 28 2

PLAYER TO WATCH

ERVIN SANTANA

The A's have one (Ben Sheets). The Rangers have one (Rich Harden). The Mariners have two (Felix Hernandez and Cliff Lee). In an AL West suddenly stacked with aces, the Angels, after the departure of free agent John Lackey, are the only club that lacks a true No. 1 starter. But they do have five above-average ones in righthanders Joel Piñeiro, Ervin Santana and Jered Weaver and lefties Scott Kazmir and Joe Saunders. And if anyone is poised to fill the void left by Lackey, it might be the 27-year-old Santana.

In 2008 he went 16--7 with 214 strikeouts, pitched in the All-Star Game and finished sixth in the American League Cy Young voting. But last season he was hampered by a strained elbow ligament that sapped his velocity—his fastball dropped from an average of 94.4 mph to 92.3—and his ERA jumped from 3.49 to 5.03. "My elbow was terrible," says Santana, who skipped pitching in the Dominican winter league this year to give his arm a chance to rest. In spring training his fastball was back up to the 94- to 95-mph range. "Now, it's back in business," he says. "Believe it."

The Angels do. "You become an ace when you start to dominate the opposition every time out," says general manager Tony Reagins. "Stuffwise, I think he has the ability to pitch at a high level. But an ace brings his A game each time out. If he does that, we'll be talking about him as one of the leaders in the game."

THE NUMBERS

11

Angels hitters who had at least 50 RBIs in 2009, the most ever on one major league team. The team scored a franchise-record 883 runs, second most in the AL, thanks to the league's third-highest OBP (.350) and its top average with runners in scoring position (.297).

MODEST PROPOSAL

There's no way around it: The Angels will miss Chone Figgins. His .395 OBP was a huge part of their offense in '09, and replacing him at third base with Brandon Wood fills the position with a player who brings power but not batting average or plate discipline. Finding a new leadoff hitter will be harder, as the Angels have few players projected for the high OBP you need in the number 1 slot. In fact, their best choice is Bobby Abreu, who had a .390 OBP, including 94 walks, last year, and has been an on-base machine his entire career. Abreu doesn't have much power left, but he has the speed that helps him take extra bases and steal them with efficiency (he had 30 stolen bases in 38 attempts last year), and moving him up from the two spot minimizes his tendency to ground into DPs. He'd be a good leadoff fit on many teams; he's the only fit on the Angels.

Continue Story
1 2