Sunday, June 26, 2005

State of the Angels - Part II

Shortly before the season, I had another blog for a short period. In one of my first articles, I took a look at the predictions for Angels players from the Baseball Think Factory. I stole this idea from Aaron Gleeman, who had stolen it from someone else. Now, with the first half of the season nearing its end, let's take a look at how the Angels fared so far compared to the expectations before the season. I'll did the infield a few days ago and will check the Halos' outfield.


LF - Garret Anderson (.309, .331, .457 in 2005)
Expected: .299, .325, .488
GA does what he is expected to do. Average around 300, timely hitting (.333 with RISP, 50 RBI), few walks (10). But I'd like to see more power from GA. 8 HR, 15 doubles and 1 triple are not enough. BTF would agree on this one.

CF - Steve Finley (.225, .287, .408)
Expected: .251, .317, .420
You don't have to look at the prediction to realize that Steve Finley had a terrible season, although he has more extra base hits that Garret Anderson (8 HR, 14 2B, 3 3B). He was doing better lately, hitting .279, .333, .465 over the last 30 days. But now he was put on the DL with a sore right shoulder he suffered, oh, when? On April 6th. Are you kidding me? If he was hurt and playing badly, why didn't he take some time off earlier? At least, this explains his refusal to dive for balls, but that's no excuse. Not going on the DL earlier has hurt the team.
I'm not sure if there is hope Finley will bounce back and be a better player once he returns, he's 40 years old after all.

RF - Vladimir Guerrero (.332, .385, .559)
Expected: .333, .405, .568
He has walked a little less than expected, but otherwise, he is again having an MVP season (AL: 4th in Runs Created Per Game, 6h in Gross Production Average, 7th in VORP, more about these stats at HBT or BP). He also has stolen six bases and hasn't committed an error so far. What is there not to like?

C - Molina Brothers (B: .292, .338, .451 - J: .270, .350, .393)
Expected: B: .272, .306, .396 - J: .265, .298, .338
(First, I know that catcher isn't an outfield position. I just forgot to include it the last time)
The Molina brothers are hitting better than expected. Bengie is hitting so well that he might play some DH while his brothers catches. But the former gold-glover seems to have lost some pop on his throws to 2nd though, as 16 of 20 base stealers have reached on him. He also has 5 passed balls. Jose on the other hand is having a gold glove season. He gunned down 56,5% of the runners trying to steal a base (That's 1st in the AL for catchers with more than 25 games caught) with no PB. Also, pitchers caught by Jose have a 3.16 ERA, which is 2nd in the AL behind Mike Redman (MIN), who has nine starts less than Jose.

DH - Jeff DaVanon (.234, .331, .273), Juan Rivera (.252, .284, .432)
Expected: .304, .357, .466 and .280, .367, .436
It's save to say that the Angels aren't getting the expected production from of their "full time" DHs. At least, Mike Scioscia has pinch hitters. If he needs a baserunner, he uses DaVanon (18 BB to 5), if he needs an extra base hit, he goes with Rivera (5 HR, 2 2B to 2 2B). If not one of them improves significantly, Tim Salmon might have a shot grabbing the DH when he returns in September.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

State of the Angels

Shortly before the season, I had another blog for a short period. In one of my first articles, I took a look at the predictions for Angels players from the Baseball Think Factory. I stole this idea from Aaron Gleeman, who had stolen it from someone else. Now, with the first half of the season nearing its end, let's take a look at how the Angels fared so far compared to the expectations before the season. I'll start with the infield today and go on to outfield and pitchers in the next days.


1B - Darin Erstad (.298, .358, .404 in 2005)
Expected: .271, .325, .373
Erstad has finally been healthy this season (knock on wood!) and so far exceeded BTF's exceptations. Although, compared to his 2000 season or to other first basemen, his numbers still don't look too great. But we know Erstad means so much more to this club than his numbers tell (and at the latest after his tackle against Estrada, I do believe it), so overall, I guess we can be happy with his performance so far.

2B - Adam Kennedy (.336, .373, .378), Chone Figgins (.278, .334, .419)
Expected: .288, .342, .411 and .297, .357, .412
While Kennedy is hitting for good average and a decent OBP since coming of the DL, his power has been nonexistent so far (only 6 doubles, no HR). With his OBP the highest on the team after Vlad, why not putting him in the leadoff or number two spot?
After a slow start, Figgins numbers are still below expectations. However, he's playing much better lately, hitting .294, .366, .468 over the last 30 days. Let's see how he'll do at the top of the order.

3B - Dallas McPherson (.261, .299, .543)
Expected: .275, .341, .513
D-Mac also was off to a slow start and nearly headed back to AAA, but he got hot just in time and although he's still striking out way too much (56K) and doesn't walk often (11BB), his power is already there and even exceeding expectations. His isolated power (SLG-AVG) of .191 his second on the team to Vlad and higher than that of Sammy Sosa, Larry Walker and Trot Nixon (for example). I'm positive on D-Mac, patience and strike zone judgement will come given time.

SS - Orlando Cabrera (.249, .289, .360)
Expected: .285, .336, .410
Just to tease you: David Eckstein .292, .375, .375
OC's season has been a big disappointment, at least his offense. Low average, few walks (16BB - though you shouldn't expect more than 45 from him even in a good season), very few power (18XBH), that's just about in line with what he did in Montreal before he was traded to the Red Sox. He clearly lacked motivation playing in Montreal, but this doesn't seem to be the case with the Angels. So what's his problem? He makes contact (21K), but only 16.7% his balls in play are line drives, which is good for 173rd (!) place in the majors. You can get by with such a low rate and still have a good season (A-Rod 14,9%, Adam Dunn 16,4%), but you seem to need good power to do so. But OC is also quite unlucky. Only 25.9% of his balls in play are hits (187th in MLB), which is obviously pretty low, even with his low line drive rate. So one can reasonable expect OC's numbers to get better.
On the bright side, defensively, OC has been terrific. His fielding percentage of .987 is second only to Omar Vizquel and his range is decent (9th in the majors, if you believe the stats), way better than Tejada, Jeter, Renteria or Young.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

New enemies and old friends

Ah, interleague play!
It's the time of the year to go out there and make some new enemies. As much as I like to watch the Angels match up against the A's, Rangers and Mariners, none of these rivalries compare to what the Red Sox and Yankees have. It's just not the same kind of intensity and I think it's because they play each other so often, all these incidents and arguments fade in the sheer number of games. So it's nice to see the Halos go to Atlanta, knock out their catcher, have some bean balls thrown and leave with a lasting impression made on the Atlanta team and their fans. Or invite the Washington Nationals for a little equipment checking. Of course, it helps to have fallen Angels with a little anger management deficit on the other team.
The Angels won't play Washington or Atlanto anytime soon (Unless one of these makes it to the World Series), so the memories of the incidents can thrive and grow and won't be washed away by a series of eventless games. Can't wait 'till next year. :)

Last year, when the Angels suspend Guillen for the rest of the season, I thought they were a little harsh on him. I saw him as an emotional guy who couldn't always control his emotions, but good at heart, and I was sad to see him getting traded (and yield relativly little). Now I totally understand Bill Stoneman's decision. I guess Guillen still had some supporters in Anaheim until yesterday when he made comments about Scioscia, saying that his former manager "can go to hell" and was "like a piece of garbage" to him. I'm not sure the Nationals check Donnelly's glove because Guillen told them something, but I think this explanation is more likely than their official version that they spotted "unusual movement on Donnelly's pitches" when watching video tapes.

So Donnelly had pine tar on it, which is not allowed, and faces suspension for that. I understand so far. What I don't understand (because I only played a year of softball and never pitched) is whether this helps the pitcher get additional movement on the ball or not. My guess would be yes, but it seems like pine tar is regularly used by pitchers to get a better grip on the ball in cold weather. Why is it banned then?

Some sports now:
It's hugely disappointing that the Angels now lost a series that they should have swept had everything went normal. After winning game one in a season record 20 hit outbreak, the Angels led 3-1 when "glovegate" happened. Had Donnelly pitched (well), Shield would have had to pitch only one inning and the Angels should have won the game (Okay, that's not really a given, but still...). Also, it's a shame that this whole "pine tar incident" overshadowed Santana's great outing (6.1 IP, 4H, ER, 4BB, 7K). The kid now sports a 3.26 ERA (in only 3 games, of course), about 10 runs lower than after his first outing. I can't decide if he's really that good or if the hitters just are unfamily with him now. Some batters missed his pitches by miles, so I guess he is for real, although there surely will be rougher outings as the season continues.
Even more disappointing was the loss last night. Colon pitched a complete game, 8H, 1ER game (only 2K but 0BB) and took the loss (his second CG loss this season) because the Angels couldn't muster more than 2 hits and 4 walk in 8 innings against Drese (DRESE!!!). The Rangers released that guy because he allowed 50 ER in less than 70 innings for them this year. The Angels had seen him once before this season and he was solid in this outing, going 7 inning with 3ER, but lost. Ok, so the Angels couldn't hit Drese, things like that happen. But then, the Nationals brought in their closer Cordero, who leads the majors with 21 saves and sports a 1.06ERA. The Angels loaded the bases with no (zero, nill, null) outs on two hits and a walk and then failed to score as they struck out (Finley), poped up (B. Molina) and struck out again (McPherson). Arg! I couldn't believe it.
I checked on Tangotigers Win Expectancy List and found out that home teams that had the bases loaded with no outs, one behind in the bot 9th have won the game 73,9% of the time. What does this mean? Nothing probably, I just wanted to look that up.

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Angels in first place again

A lot of things happened since I went 0-3 predicting the Angels series at Fenway Park. The Halos have visited Atlanta, going 2-1 with Erstad scoring the go-ahead run in one game on the most controversial play of the season so far, and are now in New York, where in the beginning of their first game against the Mets, they couldn't find the baseball, whiffing 9 (!) times against Kaz Ishii, who had only struck out 20 in 42 innings this year. Luckily, they also got 6 hits and 2 walks of him and made most of it, scoring 5 runs. They added 7 more of Mets relievers to win 12-2.

Also, the Rangers hot streak is finally over. They have lost 4 in a row, leaving the Angels alone on top of the AL West with a little breezing room.

So the Angels lead their division and I wondered how they are doing it. While the offense has become (more) alive the last weeks and the pitching was solid to great most of the time, I took a look some graphs at the Hardball Times.

How do the Angels win their games? Hitting or pitching?
I'm stating the obvious, but it's pitching. The Angels offense is only average, literally. They score an average 4.73 runs per game, which is nearly the same as the league average of 4.72, but still good enough for 6th place just ahead of (ouch) Tampa Bay. Interestingly, the Halos are below average in all major offense categories like batting average (.262 to .265 - 10th), on-base-percentage (.316 to .331 - 11th) and slugging (.403 to 416 - 11th). So how do they do it? The Angel hitters are clutch. They hit .301 with runners in scoring position, only the Twins and, ah, Tampa Bay are better.

Are the pitchers so good or is it the defense?
I always thought the Angels pitchers had a pretty good defense behind them, at least that's what my PC game used to tell me. And with current or former gold glovers at first, in center and behind the plate, I didn't doubt it. But it turns out that the Angels defense (=their Defense Efficiency Ratio) is only average. On the bright side, their pitching was really outstanding. Angels pitchers' FIP (Fielding Independent Runs = the proportion of ERA that pitchers are solely responsible for, invented by Tangotiger) is 4, leaving the Angels right at the top with the Twins, only behind the Indians (I have to admit I didn't expect them there). As happy as I am about the quality of our pitching, I think that good fielding tends to be more predictable than good pitching. And with Escobar's current injury woes, if another starter gets hurt, this strength can disappear quickly. But before I start inviting trouble by talking like that, let's take a look at what made Angels pitcher so good:
They get easy out! They pace the league with 7.1 K per 9 innings (next are the O's with 6.9, average is 6.0) and also get the most infield flies (.135 compared to .112 league average). And when you don't walk to many guys (2.9 /9IP, 3 is average), you'll always do good.
The Angels actually have a flyball staff, with a 1.12 groundball to flyball ratio (1.23 average), which might explain why the Angels defense is only average since we don't have much speed in the outfield.
Meanwhile, I found out something very interesting about the Rangers: They only allow 0.7 homeruns per game (the Angels are a little better than average with 0.9 to 1.0) despite playing their home games in a hitters park. While part of this is certainly explained by their groundball to flyball ration of 1.40, they only allow 9% of all flyballs to leave the park (11% average) and that's the lowest percentage in the AL. To me, that looks like they have been lucky so far and that their 4.61 team ERA will rise further, making it harder to keep pace with the Angels.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Angels pitching & fielding

There was a very nice article on the Hardball Times by Studes about pitching and fielding today, so if you haven't read it, I suggest you check it out (I can't really imagine that anyone who is not reading the HBT would visiting my site, but ...).
Here are the things I found most interesting about Angels pitching and fielding:

Kelvim Escobar is dominant
Every Angel fan knows that Escobar is the ace of the stuff (when healthy), but did you know that he is the 4th most dominant pitcher in the leagues? Studes introduced a stat he called Dominance, which is the percentage of batters faced that strike out or hit an infield fly (the easiest non-K-out). The two leading pitchers, Pedro Martinez (.354) and Johan Santana (.349), are in another league, but right after A.J. Burnett (.309) comes Kelvim Escobar, who dominates 30,5% of the batters he faces. These four are the only pitchers with .300+ dominance.

Escobar and Washburn have been unlucky so far
I'm not talking about injuries here (*knock on wood*), but it looks like the defense behind both pitchers hasn't been as good as it should have been. Studes introduced Expected Defense Efficiency Ratio, which is the expected percentage of balls in play turned into outs (without HR) based on line drive, outfield flies and infield flies percentage. Washburn, who should have 71,1% of BIP turned into outs, actually had only a 67,4% percentage. For Escobar, the numbers are 73,3% and 69,7%. So there is reasonable hope that both pitchers will get better (not that they have been bad so far to begin with).

I'll try to write more when I have time, but I have to go to my courses right now.
See you later
Your Cindy Fluffykins

Friday, June 03, 2005


It's time again to rethink my loyalities as my two favorite teams team up for a rematch of last year's ALDS. Last year (while praying that the Angels would make the postseason at all) I hoped that Boston would have to play Minnesota and Anaheim New York in the Division Series, but it came different. While I was a little disappointed that the Angels got swept 3-0 by the Sox, I was quite happy about the result, because I wanted the Red Sox to finally beat the Yankees and win the World Series so that all the Boston fans could die peacefully one day having seen the Red Sox on top once in their lifes. I got my wish last year (Which means I only had to wait two years until "my team" finally won it all - I had to wait about 12 years before Werder Bremen finally won the German soccer championship - by the way: Bayern Munich are the Yankees of German soccer: the evil empire), but I propably hadn't suffered enough to make me a real diehard member of Red Sox nation, so this year, the Angels are my MVP Baseball franchise on the PC and the team I will root for this weekend, this october and for good and ill until relocation tears us apart. :)
Still, I would be most happy with a 2-1 series win for the Angels, accompanied by three straight losses for the Rangers, Yankees and O's.

Angels @ Red Sox
Friday: Kelvim Escobar (2-2, 3.56 ERA) vs. David Wells (3-4, 5.96 ERA)
The Angels should win this one if Escobar can pitch 6 or maybe 7 innings. Wells was ok in his last start and the Angels have a lot of left-handed batters, but the Halos are hot enough right now to score 5 runs of Wells, plus two more of Alan Embree. Expect a good night from Garret Anderson, who is .430 in 62 at-bats against Wells.
Saturday: Bartolo Colon (6-3, 2.75 ERA) vs. Bronson Arroyo (4-2, 3.98 ERA)
I like Bronson Arroyo very much, because he cannot blow fastballs by the hitters and has to rely on his slider instead (I'm not a fan of power pitchers, you know), but he was shaky in his last starts. Colon was very good this year, but the Boston hitters will make him throw a lot of pitches and they are good fastball hitters. I don't expect anyone having a night like A-Rod had against Colon, but Boston will score a fair share of runs of Colon. I expect this to be a high scoring game. The Angels will lose on a three run homerun allow by Esteban Yan.
Sunday: Jarrod Washburn (3-3, 3.80 ERA) vs. ???
Washburn returns to Fenway Park, where he gave up a walk-off homerun to David Ortiz to end the ALDS last year. So naturally Washburn will have a great game and redeem himself, no matter whom he will face on the mound.

Go Halos!

Thursday, June 02, 2005


Slowly, but steadily Dallas McPherson is working his way onward to respectability in the Major Leagues. After he looked a little lost early, hitting just .211, .250, .316 in March and April, he is now only 12 points behind Troy Glaus in batting average. While his .250, .308, .450 still isn't something to brag about, if you look at his May numbers and his at-bats, you'll realize that Dallas is adjusting well and gaining confidence. McPherson's line over the last 30 days is .273, .333, .519 and shows that his improvement isn't just a fluke but real positive development (at least that's what I'm telling myself). Over the last week, McPherson had superstar form at the plate, hitting 4HR (one a walk-off dinger) with 9RBI and a mind-sizzling .370, .430, .889 (!!!). He certainly won't keep this up, but it's good to see that he is capable of having this kind of hot streak at the major league level (or to have any Angels having a hot streak at all).
Maybe it was a good thing for Dallas that Vladimir Guerrero went down with a shoulder injury so that he couldn't hide behind him and felt more committed to step up and produce.

Back Home

While I was away visiting my parents in the beautiful town of Osnabrueck for a few days, a lot of things happened.
First, my blog was mentioned by Richard from Pearly Gates, which is pretty cool by itself, but it also helped increase my visitor total tenfold. :) Thank you very much!!!
Second, the Angels split a low scoring series with the White Sox and then swept the Royals in an 30-run offensive outburst over three games. Since then, the Angels lost two close games in Chicago and salvaged the series with a 10-7 victory yesterday when K-Rod struck out the side in the 9th while allowing a double and walking three. Yes, I agree with Josh (also Pearly Gates) that walking Frank Thomas with the bases loaded was probably a good idea.
Third, the Red Sox thrashed the Yankees for 24 runs in two games after losing the first game in New York. This humiliation shocked the Yankees so much that they promptly lost two games against the Royals.
And last but not least, Ex-Angel David Eckstein made two great plays yesterday for the Cardinals in Colorado. You can watch them on today, so go there quickly. I like Orlando Cabrera, but I miss Eckstein and I still don't understand why they let him go (It's even more difficult to understand if you see Eckstein hitting .302, .377, .392 compared to Cabrera's .240, .300, .347. It would be nice to have a player getting on base more than once in three tries.