The Angels are in first place in the AL West and have a fine record of 52-34, third best in the majors behind the Rays and the Cubs, but they are going to be hard pressed to maintain that pace if they don’t start getting more offense.
Although they Angels are 6th in the major leagues in ERA, they are way down at 23rd in runs scored. And the biggest reason is their underperforming, overcrowded outfield/DH situation.
When the Angels tried to cram Torii Hunter into what was already an overcrowded situation, we knew that some guys would get left out, and predictably the Angels have gone with a rotation of highly-paid established veterans Hunter, Vlad Guerrero, Gary Matthews Jr., and Garrett Anderson.
Guerrero has shown some signs of emerging from an unusual early season slump, but Matthews and Anderson have been handed starting roles and 300 at-bats each, and have posted OPS figures of .678 and .697, respectively. Matthews’ OBP is only .319, and Anderson’s is even worse, at only .297. And these numbers are being put up in crucial corner outfielder/DH at-bats, where a team really needs to get a sizeable proportion of its offense.
In some sense it is understandable why the Angels keep running these two out there. Anderson has been a franchise centerpiece for more than a decade, and Matthews was awarded a huge 5-year $50 million contract two years back.
But it is time for the Angels to face reality and cut their losses by sending these guys to the bench. Anderson has been in steep decline at the plate for many years now, and is no longer even adequate on defense, while Matthews has never been more than a fourth outfielder at best, except for that one fluky, hGh-fueled free-agent walk year with the Rangers.
Meanwhile, Reggie Willits posted a .391 OBP last season, and Juan Rivera batted .310 and OPS’d .887 in his last full season in 2006. While it is uncertain whether either player would match those numbers if given an everyday starting job, both would almost certainly best what Matthews and Anderson are currently providing.
The Angels organization has been a model of stability and has not fired any of its front-office personnel in 9 years. But while that sort of patience and stability in the front office is an asset, major league ball players need to be evaluated more objectively.
If the Angels really want to get back to the World Series, the need to stop basing their lineup on sentimentality.