Friday, April 24, 2015

By Glen McKee and Nate Trop, Columnists -

A wise poster on the board once said, “It’s never too early to give up on a season.” For some people that is indeed truth, and if that is true then it also stands to reason it’s never too early to give up on a player.  

It’s also never too early to declare favorites for team MVP.  So yeah, that’s what we’re gonna do – give our choices for the worst and best players so far!

There’s a caveat, of course: Josh Hamilton and Mike Trout respectively are out of the running. Hamilton because he hasn’t played yet this season and there is already enough out there about him, and Trout because he would be the runaway choice for best player.  In fact, we’ll change it to “worst player and best player whose last name doesn’t rhyme with Schmamilton or Schtout.’”

The Best & Worst by Glen McKee 

Worst – Matt Joyce.  If it’s the middle of April, that must mean several regulars in the Angels lineup are struggling, scuffling, or just plain sucking.  It’s a given that when you cough over your hard-earned money to Uncle Sam that Angels fans will be holding on to hope that it is indeed still early and that several people will turn it around.  There are certainly plenty of candidates for this dubious distinction but my choice is Joyce.  I didn’t understand the optimism when we traded Kevin Jepsen for him.  For the record, I wasn’t opposed to trading Jepsen – he seemed like a perfect “sell high” candidate – and I didn’t know how much we could get for him, but I thought it would be somebody better than Joyce.  

Joyce has managed the daily double of sucking both in the field and at the plate, and in equal measures for both.  To be fair, he was forced into the OF when Hamilton became unavailable and he was intended to be a platoon DH.  That tells you how much value he had: he was projected to not be wearing a glove.  Call it the “Raul Ibanez effect” if you will, but it seems like he was destined to end up mangling plays in LF.  It could be that playing in the OF every day (and hitting fourth, an indictment of how bad the lineup is right now) (I know, it’s still early) is having an effect on Joyce at the plate.  Something has to be messing him up.  Whatever it is, I hope he gets it corrected.  

Best – Johnny Giavotella.  Johnny G surprised everybody and took control of the 2B job in spring training, and has been more than we could have expected since then.  He’s positively Kennedy-esque right now, and I’m referring to Adam, not John F. or Teddy.  Amongst starters he’s trailing only Trout with a .289 average and a .349 OBP.  That’s right, he’s even better (right now) than everybody’s favorite ginger, Kole Calhoun.  

That said, I don’t expect Giavotella to continue at this pace, although it would be nice if he did.  It’s possible, but not likely.  If he was wearing an Oakland uniform and had dopey glasses like Sogard he’d probably do it, but since he’s on the Angels he’s bound to decline.
And on that positive note, over to you, Nate.

The Best & Worst by Nate Trop

There are a couple things I need to get out of the way before getting to my best and worst players.  First, when Glen or Geoff or maybe I, I forget who, came up with this idea, I never would have agreed knowing Trout was off limits.  That offends my need to be as lazy as humanly possible when writing these things.  Second, since I am not being lazy, I won’t include the obvious punching bag Christopher John Wilson.

Worst – There is a thread on the forum right now with a subject line of a bunch of the starters’ batting averages.  The worst being Iannetta at .114, but somehow with that batting average he has drawn six (!!!!) walks and there is some crack pot article on Fangraphs right now alleging that he is actually a good defensive catcher.  Just above him is Joyce .152, Glen’s pick, which is typical since everyone on the planet would pick Joyce, way to use your imagination big guy.  I am going to move up the list all the way to .196; none other than Albert Pujols, our favorite 25 million dollar pensioner.  

Pujols’ OPS of .667 is 5th on the team among qualifiers, but 24th in the MLB among qualifying first basemen.  I don’t know why I get tricked into being excited about him being on the team every year anymore.  We always hear that he is in the best shape of his life (BSOL) and nothing ails him, this will finally be the year.  BS, he is old, slow, and lacks the overall quickness to play MLB at any level other than average.   Hamilton deciding to exercise his inner Charlie Sheen this offseason definitely hurts Pujols lineup protection some but let’s be honest, Hamilton wasn’t exactly scaring opposing pitchers last season either.  The only positive note is his glove still looks good, and he and Trout seem to have bonded very nicely.  Plus he does that weird thing where he motorboats the air while he runs around the bases. But when you are making $154,320 per game (2.5 times the average annual family income in the US by the way), you sure as hell better do more than be a good teammate and play good defense.  At some point I really do hope he turns it around, otherwise the next five years of this contract sure are going to be swell.

Best – My Dad was out to visit before the season and I got my love for the Angels from him so we naturally spent a lot of time talking about the upcoming season.  One of the things he said to me was that David Freese was going to have a good season.  So far he is right.  Freese has three HR and 11 RBI this season leading the team in both categories.  Unlike Calhoun, he hasn’t missed any time due to injury and he has played good defense, which is not exactly his strong suit.  Also, unlike Johnny G, he isn’t likely to regress.  It is especially important for him to bring offense because, without Hamilton, Howie, and a shell of a Pujols, this team is not the same one that scored a lot of runs last season.  Freese is hitting cleanup now, and I think he probably will for the rest of the season.  Scioscia might move him down to 5th against tough righties, but that is it.  If he does have a big season and the Angels are not looking so great by the trade deadline he could bring a decent return back, knowing how hard 3b are to find.  Otherwise he is a FA and in my opinion there is no way the Angels can give him a contract.
Love to hear what you think!

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