(Photo Credit: Yardbarker.com)
In a weird turn of events, what may be the worst Los Angeles Angels lineup in years that wasn’t due to resting players or already clinching a playoff spots seems to actually be producing. Tonight’s starting nine is laid out like this:
Hunter, Matsui, and Rivera are there in the middle, like they have been pretty much all season, but beyond that… yikes.
With Kendrick leading off, the Angels are putting someone with a .304 OBP on the season in a spot you do not want a .304 OBP to be sitting. Abreu, and his .349 OBP, would’ve been a far better choice. Even more so when you consider how much people want speed in the leadoff spot, and Abreu, with four more steals than Kendrick on the season, clearly still has some. Napoli in the #2 hole isn’t terrible, and would actually be a pretty solid spot for him if the guy in front of him was an OBP machine. Kendrick, of course, is not. Napoli’s high number of GIDP does make him a little less than ideal here, but his .476 SLG is currently second on the team among active players.
Abreu shouldn’t really be in the 3 spot, and it’s a little confusing as to why he is over Napoli. Abreu’s .349 OPB is second on the team among regulars, while his .409 SLG is behind only Kendrick, Aybar, and Wood on the team. Not exactly ideal #3 material. Hunter does make sense in the #4 spot. Among players with at least 100 PA, he leads the team in both OBP and SLG. Of course, the problem with the lineup is that two of the three people ahead of him have an OBP under .325, which is not exactly setting the table well for the people that are meant to be driving in runs.
Matsui, Rivera, Frandsen, Wilson, and Wood are all probably where they should be in this lineup, but with Izturis heading to the DL, Aybar’s MRI showing he has cartilage damage in his knee, and Morales out for the season, the choices for Scioscia were not exactly ideal at the beginning of the night. So far, even with a fairly rag-tag lineup like this, things have worked out okay. As I write this, the Angels are up over the Brewers 5-1 in the 7th, a run total that already surpasses what they were able to get from the Brewers in the last two games, combined. I don’t necessarily think it’s because of the lineup that they’ve been able to score, and if we see this sort of a setup continue we may have more struggles like we did in the last two games.
At the beginning of the night, the Angels were 2.0 games behind Texas in the AL West. Thankfully, they remain in interleague play, taking on the Cubs, Dodgers, and Rockies next, and if they can beat up on the NL a little more than they have in this series they may be able to keep themselves within striking distance of first place heading into the middle of summer. If they want to have any hope of keeping things close, though, they’re going to need to try to limit the amount of times they’re forced into using lineups like the one they’re employing tonight.