Its a wrap. The 2011 Angels finished 86 – 76 and lost seven of their final ten games – while squandering a potential wild card opportunity. The season was largely characterized by a strong starting pitching staff featuring Jered Weaver, Dan Haren and Ervin Santana – a weak offense featuring just one player ( Howie Kendrick) with an OPS above .800 and a shaky bull pen which really consisted of only one reliable reliever in the person of Scott Downs. All things considered this club was lucky to win 86 games.
Lets take a look at what we learned about the 2011 Angels. Starting with the infield.
- Erick Aybar SS – Aybar had a solid season with the bat .279/.322/.421 and with the glove. He showed more power than most thought he had by clubbing 10 home runs, and 33 doubles while posting a career high .142 ISO. Aybar also posted a career high 30 stolen bases and was caught just 6 times while finally turning himself into a bonafide base stealing threat. Improving his plate discipline is the biggest area of improvement for Aybar his .322 On Base is well below what you would like to see for a table setting speed type. All in all For Aybar this was a bounce back year. He showed that when healthy, he is much more like the player we saw in 2009 than the guy we saw in 2010.
- Alberto Callaspo 3B - Similar to Erick Aybar – Callaspo remained relatively healthy in 2011. This allowed him to improve on his uneven 2010 second half debut with the Halos that saw the normally solid Callaspo hit just .249 for the Angels. In 2011 however Callaspo was one of the Angels most consistent hitters throughout the season. He finished with a solid .288/.366/.375 slash line – and was solid on D posting a carer high 6.2 UZR. All that said Callaspo is still not your ideal third basemen on a contending club. His lack of power adds to the general lack of power on the current Angels roster. With Callaspo eligible for arbitration this off season it will be interesting to see what the Angels do. As we posted last week – the Angels were planning to explore Mark Trumbo playing third base in the off season which could make Callaspo expendable. However given Trumbo’s recent injury that could change.
- Maicer Izturis 3B/2B/SS – 2011 was good to Maicer Izturis. The often fragile utility man was able to stay healthy in 2011 which allowed him to appear in a career high 122 games. Maicer responded by posting a .276/.334/.388 slash line and providing a solid glove at third, short and second base. The one thing we may have learned about Izturis in 2011 is that he best suited for a utility role. Izturis is signed through the 2012 season so look for him to be back in that capacity next season.
- Howie Kendrick 2B - 2011 was a career year for Kendrick. While he didn’t bust out in batting average like many have predicted for years – Kendrick had a power surge (18 home runs, .464 SLG) and learned a tad bit more patience at the plate drawing a career high 33 walks. Howie also improved defensively 14.5 UZR and again stole 14 bases in 2011. Kendrick will need to cut down on the strike outs (119) and still learn to be more selective to get his average up to the lofty heights most expect from him – but in 2011 Howie cemented himself as one of the top second basemen in the game.
- Mark Trumbo 1B – Trumbo burst onto the scene in 2011 and produced a likely rookie of the year performance. The slugging first basemen clubbed 29 home runs while slugging .477 and leading the Angels with 87 RBI’S. As we’ve discussed – Trumbo’s emergence gives the Angels a nice problem to have should Kendrys Morales return from his injury and produce. While Morales will likely command a bulk of at bats at DH his primary position is still first base. Mike Scioscia and the Angels have already kicked around the idea of Trumbo playing more in the outfield and at third base in order to make room for Morales. However Trumbo suffered a stress fracture in his foot which may prevent that progress this winter. Trumbo’s health and positional workouts will be a key area to watch this off season. If the second year version of Trumbo can learn more plate discipline (.291 ON Base , 120 strike outs) and improve his fielding (wherever he may play) the Angels will have a bright young talent on their hands.
- Up Next: The Catchers……..