Friday, May 2, 2008

By Eric Denton - Angels Senior Writer

May 2, 2008. The Angels have played 30 games and are 18-12 sitting atop the AL West with the Oakland Athletics and the fans here on the message board are already ready to bench two starting players. Garret Anderson and Gary Matthews Jr.

Seriously, you say ?

Yeah, seriously...

But they've got Reggie Willits with his .400 ob% . Juan Rivera hit 23 homers in 2006. Kendry Morales is a star waiting to shine. Posters who are advocating for these players to get a shot aren't wrong. Their points are well taken but let's face some facts.

1. The Angels are winning and are in first place.
2. It's May 2.

Not to be cliche but I think it's time to steal one from color commentator Rex Hudler. "It's not how you start, it's how you finish."

The poster boy for that saying is fan favorite, former Angel Tim Salmon. Salmon was a notorious slow starter. Every manager he played for saw him struggle early and let him play through it. And every year, Salmon would finish with his typical numbers of .290 25 hrs 90 RBI.

There is no doubt that Anderson and Matthews are not playing up to their potential at this point in time. Anderson is hitting a meager .223 and Matthews a similar .229 (though to be fair he does lead the team in RBI).

Do fans really expect that both of these players are going to finish the year with batting averages in the .220's ? Conversely, do Angel fans really expect that our hot hitters like Casey Kotchman and Erick Aybar are going to hit near .330 all season ? Are Ervin Santana and Joe Saunders going to finish the year a combined 66-0 ?

The answer is "unlikely".

The team's biggest superstar Vladimir Guerrero isn't off to the hottest start either, yet there are no calls for his benching. Why is that ? Probably because at any given time Vlad is capable of changing the game with one swing of the bat. Guess what though. Every player is capable of that. Erick Aybar's surprise 3-run homer last night is proof of that. Torii Hunter's two HR, walk off Grand Slam game is proof of that.

One of the best things (and possibly worst things) about baseball is looking over the numbers the players put up.

Something to remember about statistics however is they only tell you what has happened in the past, they do not tell the future. Just because Gary Matthews is having a bad week doesn't mean he wont have a big road-trip. Just because Garret Anderson went 0-3 last night doesn't mean it's impossible for him to go 3-3 tonight.

Each game is it's own separate entity. It would seem that the Angel fans have lost focus of the "One Game At A Time" mantra that served this organization so well in 2002.
Love to hear what you think!


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