( Photo Credit: Getty Images)

Need For Speed – The Angels Edition

Lack Of Team Speed  Key Reason For The Angels Demise 

Options options options. There are many factors we can point to in order to understand the Angels sub par 2010. We’ve seen underachieving seasons from guys who were thought to be key contributors; Hideki Matsui, Bobby Abreu, Juan Rivera, Scott Kazmir, Brandon Wood, Scott Shields, to name a few. A horrible bull pen. Spotty defense. A lack of hitting with RISP and the list goes on. 

But from a team make up perspective one thing we haven’t heard mentioned enough is the Angels sudden lack of team speed. I think we all expected to see a dip in stolen bases with Chone Figgins’ departure to Seattle, but aside from that, the Angels aggressive 1st to 3rd, always take the extra base mentality appears to be a distant memory. I’ve seen some question Mike Scioscia for this but in reality he just doesn’t have the “horses” to play the same speed game anymore. Both Bobby Abreu and especially Torii Hunter have lost a step since last year. Erick Aybar while plenty fast has yet to master the art of getting good jumps when stealing bases. Maicer Izturis, (who was thought to be a decent source of speed) has been hurt most of the year and Howie Kendrick who owns the Angels best SB% (10 steals in 12 attempts) has just not run enough. 

The Angels are currently 7th in the American league with just 67 stolen bases. A far departure from there usual top 3 positioning the last several years. In fact, 2010 will be the first year since 2001 that the Angels do not finish either first, second or third in AL team stolen bases. The steal, or successfully taking the extra base, is just no longer a key offensive weapon for the team. This fact, when coupled with an abysmal .317 on base percentage is a key reason why the team’s runs and wins are down. This isn’t to say you can’t win without speed, many teams have. It’s just that the Angels have employed the speed game as a key part of their offensive attack in recent years and they’ve yet to shift to a roster filled with high OBP high SLG percentage players to compensate for the speed drop off. Either way, the chore of increasing team speed or revamping the roster with patient slugging hitters will be a key area of improvement for the Halos this off-season. 

Is Peter Bourjos’s recent call up an immediate step in the speed direction? Only time will tell.