If only we could’ve convinced St. Louis to let us host last year’s All-Star Game instead of the 2010 incarnation, perhaps we’d have more people worthy of representing our team in their home park. As I pointed out in my bit for the Call to the Pen article, the Angels had eight different hitters with a WAR above 2.5 at the end of last season. As we pass the midway point in the month of June, the don’t have a single person with a war above 2.5, including the pre-injury Kendry Morales. Torii Hunter’s current 2.0 mark would put him just below Howie Kendrick last season, and would make him the lowest WAR player of the regular nine on the 2009 team.
Looking at WAR, the Angels finished in the top five last season at 1B, SS, 3B, CF, and C (among players with at least 300 PA). Moving that threshold back to 200 PA, since we’re still in June, only Mike Napoli and Torii Hunter are in the top five in WAR at their respective positions, and in more than one spot the Angels’ regular starter at that position is in the bottom three. Were the ASG to be played in Anaheim in 2009, it wouldn’t be hard to justify having Angels players starting or reserves at four or five different positions, without even looking towards any pitchers. This season, they may be lucky to have two.
For anyone that read my portion on Call to the Pen, you know that I only named two All-Stars for the Angels in 2010: Jered Weaver and Torii Hunter. Among the Angels’ starters, Weaver is the only one with a WAR above 1.5, or a FIP below 4.00. He also has the lowest ERA, highest K/9, highest K/BB ratio, lowest WHIP, and the lowest AVG against. While he may not be a “true ace,” he’s clearly the ace of this staff and the best pitcher on the team.
On the other side of the ball, Torii Hunter is the only hitter with a WAR at or above 2 (Napoli is next at 1.7), and among hitters with at least 100 PA, he’s in a virtual tie with Napoli in wOBA. Hunter’s WAR will be interesting to watch going forward, because some part of it is due to his currently positive UZR. While it’s only sitting at 1.3 right now and defensively he’s not exactly setting the world on fire, it would be the first time since 2005 that he finished with a positive UZR if he was able to finish the season that way. If he does dip back into the negatives, though, his WAR is going to drop right along with it.
With Napoli taking over first base more and more, his WAR may actually drop as well since he won’t receive the same positional bonus for his offense coming from the catcher spot. Simply put, offense is harder to come by at the catcher position than at 1B, so offensive contribution is worth less from a 1B than it would be from a catcher. Napoli spending more time at 1B, then, will cut into his offensive value some, which may put him and Hunter into a bizarre sort of race downward. With Napoli, it’s mostly going to depend on his playing time once Mathis returns, and the position he’s at when he does play.
All that aside, though, Hunter and Weaver are clearly the only two remotely worth representing the Angels in the 2010 All-Star Game. Even with Matsui perhaps heating up and returning to form, he can’t hold a candle to the production Vladimir Guerrero has given Texas. Guerrero has been so good that he actually ties Hunter’s 2.0 WAR, and he’s doing it from the DH position, while Matsui has only been able to manage a 0.4 thus far.
The All-Star Game is always fun to watch, and living in St. Louis last year it was especially fun to be downtown and watching it, but for Angels fans it’s going to be a little bittersweet seeing so few Halos playing on their home field.