Wednesday, December 12, 2007


Angels DH of the future?
Continuing the series:
  1. Introduction and Catcher
  2. First Base
  3. Second Base
  4. Shortstop
  5. Third Base
  6. Left Field
  7. Center Field
  8. Right Field
  9. DH
  10. Starting Rotation
  11. Bullpen
  12. Conclusion


Part Nine - DH

HISTORY

Going back to the inception of the DH in 1973, the Angels have filled the slot with a veritable Who’s Who of Hall of Famers and quality veterans at the end of their careers, including (in chronological order): Frank Robinson, Tommy Harper, Tommy Davis, Don Baylor, Willie Aikens, Jason Thompson, Reggie Jackson, Ruppert Jones, Brian Downing, Dave Parker, Hubie Brooks, Chili Davis, and Mo Vaughn. Quite a list. The key, of course, is that almost all of them—with the exception of Baylor, Davis, and Downing—had their best years elsewhere.

Don Baylor, of course, won the MVP award in 1979. Not to take away from his fine year, he probably didn’t deserve it—his 139 RBIs obscured the fact that his own team-mate, Bobby Grich, had an equal OPS+ (145) while playing near Gold Glove defense. Grich finished 8th—behind Ken Singleton, George Brett, Fred Lynn, and Jim Rice--all of whom had better years than Baylor—as well as Cy Young award winner Mike Flanagan and Gorman Thomas.

Baylor was replaced by Reggie Jackson, who had one good year for the Angels in 1982, then four mediocre ones. Four four years Brian Downing moved from left field to DH and was, well, Brian Downing. After he left the void was filled by two terrible seasons by Dave Parker and Hubie Brooks. Then in 1993 Chili Davis returned for a second, and far better, tour with the Angels, with seasonal OPS+ of 102, 147, 146, and 124 (I'll never forget Chili not accepting an intentional walk and reaching over the plate to hit a home run--I've never seen anything like that). Since Davis left the role hasn’t been filled by any one player for more than a year—and rarely a full year—at a time.

2007 REVIEW

  • Shea Hillenbrand (31) – 54 games, .254/.275/.325
  • Kendry Morales (24) – 43 games, .294/.333/.479

DH was a platoon, with Shea Hillenbrand (44 games), Vlad Guerrero (41), and Garret Anderson (20 games), Kendry Morales and Reggie Willits (14 games each) taking the majority of duty. Hillenbrand was a classic Bill Stoneman nightmare and released on July 9th. Morales showed promise, yet was inconsistent (perhaps partially due to limited playing time).

FUTURE OUTLOOK

The future at DH should be Kendry Morales. But with the log-jam in an aging outfield, Morales is behind the LF-RF-DH rotation of Garret Anderson, Vladimir Guerrero, and Gary Matthews. Look to see Morales play some RF and LF this year, because 2008 is the last year in Anderson’s contract and Morales is the most likely player to get the bulk of his at-bats. However, in 2008 he may just surprise and earn his way into more at-bats. Give the age of the outfield, the probably of injury is high, so that Morales might just his chance to at least prove that he belongs in the lineup.

2008 PROJECTION

  • Garret Anderson (36) – 120 games, .280/.325/.475, 18 HR
  • Kendry Morales (25) – 90 games, .290/.330/.500, 15 HR

UPGRADE?

As with many Angels positions, there are plenty of adequate players to fill the DH role, just none that really sparkle. Mike Scioscia’s approach has been, and will likely continue to be, to use DH as a kind of half-rest day for position players, so the idea of upgrading isn’t applicable.

Love to hear what you think!

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