Previewing the Los Angeles Angels | The Process Report

Previewing the Los Angeles Angels

It’s that time of year when we welcome the Angels with arms wide open for their sole trip to the Trop. Be nice to them, they don’t travel well so I’m sure rival fanbases should have fun with the 30K or so fans that will show up for this weekday four-game set with a west coast team. The other cool thing is that this is a battle between the two teams with the most difficult schedule to date. They’ve had the fewest offdays, and while the Rays have had an even more brutal schedule being tasked with all the great teams in the AL East the AL West ain’t exactly a cakewalk, either. The tough schedule is partly to blame for both talented teams having identical 23-23 records, but despite the results I think the Rays are a better team. Let’s look at the arms:

Due to the sheer volume of data I’m now using my framework to look at exclusively the last 30 days. This should give a great idea of how a team is playing more recently rather than having artifacts of past great or horrible performance giving a false impression of more recent performance. Focusing on the recent shows just how very good the pitching for the Rays has been of late. The Angels are on the other side of the coin with a well below average staff and bullpen. They give up loads of hard contact, but do seem to show a solid ability to get strikeouts. The Rays will be happy to oblige if they can turn a dozen strikeouts into half a dozen runs.

Main takeaway here should be that the Angels have been exceedingly fortunate on balls in play. They have allowed something like league average performance, but their expectations show one of the worst teams in the league. This probably should shine favorably upon their defense, but defense alone cannot explain that large of a gap. On the other hand, the Rays have been fortunate, too, but to a much smaller extent.

Rested Erasmo looks so good of late. He should receive a start in this series and will do a great job of limiting hard contact. The rest of the Rays current starters are all coming in better than average over this time frame, and the stalwarts of the pen have established themselves well. Notice that the worst performers have mostly been removed from the equation for the time being, and even over-worked warhorse Jumbo Diaz could soon be getting a rest on the disabled list with Tommy Hunter coming back shortly. The Angels do no enjoy such luxuries. Jesse Chavez has been their best starter, though Shoemaker, Meyer, tonight’s starter Ramirez and Nolasco have all been much worse. Their pen seems to play up, however. Parker has been very good, and they can back him with Petit’s ability to go long and the ability of Skaggs to kill lefties. Old swords David Hernandez and Bud Norris are also contributing.

The Rays have a pretty large advantage on the bump as shown above, and moving over to the hitters shows that these two teams are pretty close with the sticks, too. The Rays obliterate the baseball*. *When they make contact. Blowing away the league in strikeouts is something that isn’t going to change, but you can see the difference in contact quality between these two teams, and the Rays also walk a ton to boot. Neither is a great offense, but they have their strengths. The Rays hit the ball hard. The Angels have Mike Trout.

While they have been unfortunate as a club they have been able to enjoy a bit of over-performance from the best player in the game. They back that up with a nice lefty-righty mix of Calhoun and Maybin before getting to a legend. Let’s zoom out so that we’re not just looking at results on balls in play:

Take Trout out of the equation and the Angels don’t really have any bright spots, but they do have him. For a few more years, at least. It will be fun to watch him this series, and I wish we got to see him more so thanks for that, unbalanced schedule. Obviously, you don’t let Trout beat you, but unlike many teams that have other credible threats the Angels really don’t. Calhoun and Maybe in are above average to good players, especially if you include their defense and baserunning, but the bottom of the list is chock full of guys seeing regular duty yet not doing a whole lot with it.

Unlike the Angels, and the vast majority of their franchise history, the Rays have a couple of catchers that can hit! They’ve also got some other guys that are pretty good. LoMo continues to rake and show a good glove. While Tim Beckham has cooled off a little Corey Dickerson has eaten all of that leaked energy to take his game to yet another level. I still don’t want to see Kiermaier at the top of the lineup, but he’s starting to pull it together, too.

On paper, these are pretty evenly matched teams, but the Rays should have few excuses for not winning this series. They have a big lead on the mound, and the bats are close enough to not be able to offset that edge. Walk Trout 12 times and go get everybody else.



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