We continue our review of the Angels positional corps with a look at the 2011 Halos outfield. Obviously the glaring zit on the nose here was the play of Vernon Wells. The much maligned left fielder (he of the enormous contract) was the talk and shock of the off season when he was acquired in the now infamous swap for Mike Napoli and Juan Rivera. Wells’ performance in left dragged down what was a fairly solid group. Center fielder Peter Bourjos hit better than most expected and after a disappointing first half Torii Hunter regained his solid form after the All Star break. 2011 also saw the debut of the phenom – Angels prospect Mike Trout. While Trout’s numbers were less than impressive he showed flashes of power, plate discipline and raw speed that make the 20 year old outfielder a potential star.
Lets take a more in depth look at the 2011 Angels outfield.
- Bobby Abreu – DH/LF /RF: 2011 was not kind to Bobby Abreu. Father time is undefeated and it appears he has caught up to Abreu. In the worse season of his career Abreu slumped to a .253/.353/.365 slash line posting career lows in virtually every offensive category. Serving as the teams primary DH – Abreu’s only redeeming value was his ability to draw a walk. His 78 walks was by far the most on the team and his .353 on base was second only to Alberto Callaspo (.366). Abreu is owed $9 million in 2012 making him difficult to trade coming off a career low year. Abreu will turn 38 before the start of next the season. This means he likely will be back (albeit in a reduced role) unless the club is willing to eat some of his contract in any possible trade.
- Peter Bourjos – CF: Bourjos was widely renowned for his defensive prowess before the 2011 season began. He did nothing to tarnish that reputation during the season turning in a performance that places him among the games elite defensive center fielders (7.5 UZR). On the other side of the ball Bourjos turned in a solid offensive season posting a .271/.327/.438 slash line with 12 HR, 11-triples and 22 stolen bases. Areas for improvement for Bourjos are improved plate discipline ( just 32 walks) and improving as a base stealer as Bourjos was just 22/31 on the base paths. If Peter (like so many Angels hitters) can improve his pitch selection he would be the teams ideal lead-off hitter in 2012 and could be poised for a break out year.
- Torii Hunter – RF: 2011 was the tale of two seasons for Torii Hunter. There was the first half where Torii battled a leg injury and struggled hitting just .250/.321/.396 in the first half compared to .278/.356/.472 post all star break. Hunter – who late last season made the move to right field in order to accommodate Bourjos - played an adequate right field and continued to be the teams vocal and emotional leader. It will be interesting to see what Hunter’s role is in 2012. His second half performance clearly showed that he still has some gas left in the tank. Will 2012 cement Torii as the un questioned team leader or could he be dangled as potential trade bait to free up playing time for Mike Trout? Stay tuned….
- Mike Trout LF/CF/RF: – The Angels called up their top prospect in July when Peter Bourjos suffered a hamstring injury. After a brief demotion back to double AA – Trout went on to play in 40 games hitting .220/.281/.390 flashing blinding speed and potential all along the way. The biggest thing we learned about Trout is that even with the low batting numbers – he was not over matched at the plate – despite being just 20 years old. If the Angels can somehow find a way to shake up their veteran outfield core – Trout may very well be the starter in left field come opening day.
- Vernon Wells – LF: Too blessed to be stressed! It really is a great motto to live by. It’s also what Wells Tweeted after his season opening two week slump – vowing to persevere and perform better. Unfortunately for the Angels Wells never really did. While Vernon did have stretches of power surges on the way to hitting 25 home runs – his full season slash line paints a gruesome picture – .218/.248/.412. The .248 on base immediately stands out. Wells managed just 20 walks in 505 at bats – producing by far the lowest walk rate of his career. Was he simply just trying to hard to impress a new team and fan base? Or was Mickey Hatcher’s swing first take pitches last mentality just too enticing for V DUB to pass up? Only time will tell as Wells (owed $21 million a year from 2012 – 2014 ) will undoubtedly get another chance to redeem himself in 2012. There aren’t any Tony Reagins type GM’s around to dump his contract on any more.
Overall the Angels outfield isn’t in terrible shape heading into 2012. They have an exciting center fielder who is just entering his prime in Peter Bourjos – and a solid veteran presence with Torii Hunter in right. The wild cards remain Trout (playing time and progression) and Wells (performance). There should be little hope that Abreu can bounce back to his old self and be counted on in the OF/ DH rotation at all in 2012. There is also an outside chance there could be some shakeup here. I expect the Angels new GM to explore trading at least one of the Abreu – Wells (not likely) – Hunter trio. Don’t forget Mark Trumbo could also factor into the outfield rotation next year providing the status of Kendrys Morales’ recovery. If the Angels find a reasonable offer for one of the veterans a deal could be made.
- Up Next: The Starting Pitching………..
What We Learned Archive: