Now or Never: August MVP’s and LVP’s
With the conclusion of last night’s game against the Seattle Mariners, the Los Angeles Angels close the book on an August that is best to be forgotten. They entered the month three games behind Texas and first in the Wild Card hunt. They close the month 8.5 games behind Texas and 3.5 games behind in the Wild Card finishing the month with a 13 – 15 record. The record is better than April’s, but with Oakland and Detroit surging, the slump couldn’t have come at a worse time. The pitching is largely to blame for the failures this month. The offense did everything they could do to win games, but the rotation, particularly the bullpen, seemed hell bent on losing games.
Even the most optimistic fan is having serious doubts about this team’s season with the final stretch upon us. I challenge fans to fight the pessimistic attitude though and try to stay upbeat as our boys fight for their postseason lives. It’s perfectly acceptable to be angry with this team, I know I am. It is not acceptable to give up on them however.
Let’s move on to the hardware. (All awards will be based on Fangraphs WAR unless extenuating circumstances present themselves)
MVP: Mike Trout
This was closer than I thought it would be. The Angels offense during August was clicking on another level. Howie Kendrick had a 15 game hitting streak this month and a slash line of .341/.388/.505 with two home runs, 13 RBI’s and seven doubles. Erick Aybar has been hitting everything in sight going .341/.368/.538 with three home runs, five doubles, 19 runs scored and six stolen bases. Albert Pujols had an Albert Pujols type month with a .312/.350/.677 slash line. Hitting nine home runs, seven doubles and driving in 24 runs. Even Kendrys Morales is looking a lot more like Kendry Morales with a .290/.330/.570 line hitting seven home runs and driving in 17 runs.
Mike Trout however, has been all of those players combined, again. Trout paced the entire team with 1.5 fWAR, 11 stolen bases and 26 runs scored. He also hit seven home runs, two doubles and drove in 19 runs. He played fantastic defense highlighted by two home run robbing catches you can see here and here. Almost every regular deserved consideration, but when you possess all the skills of your teammates, you have a slightly unfair advantage.
Honorable Mentions: Erick Aybar, Albert Pujols, Howie Kendrick, Kendrys Morales
LVP: Mark Trumbo
To be Frank (I’ve always wanted to be him), It’s not even close. Mark closed the month with -0.6 fWAR. The next closest with at least 40 PA was Maicer Izturis who had 0.1 fWAR. Of course he had only 59 Plate Appearances, Mark finished the month with 118. Trumbo finished the month with a .204/.263/.287 line (That’s Mathisian), and he wasn’t unlucky as his BABIP was .302. It was the strikeouts that hurt Mark the most. 43 to be exact. Good enough to have a K% of 36.4%. The offense was great this month, but I’m greedy and a have a healthy imagination. Could you imagine what this offense would have been like this month if Mark Trumbo had even put up average production? Mark has been touted as the team MVP all season, but his last month and a half have put a black hole right in the middle of this lineup.
Dishonorable Mentions: Maicer Izturis, Vernon Wells
Cy Young: Kevin Jepsen
You would think that with a rotation this stacked it would be a lot more difficult to pick the best pitcher for this past month. Alas, not even Jered Weaver had a strong enough month to be considered. The only pitcher throughout this entire month that I trusted to have in a game was Kevin Jepsen. a 2.13 ERA and 9.24 K/9 in 12 2/3 innings pitched. Each one high leverage, and each one Jepsen rose to the challenge. He registered at least one strike out in all but three of his appearances, and suffered only one loss. He only produced 0.2 fWAR, but did you trust any other pitcher this month? I do not deny hating on Kevin Jepsen earlier this year when he could get no one out, and I am now showering him with praise for being as clutch as a relief pitcher can be. Baseball is funny like that.
Honorable Mentions: Jered Weaver, Ervin Santana
CY Yuck: Jason Isringhausen
Really, take your pick. Is there any pitcher more deserving of this award than Isringhausen? Sure there’s C.J. Wilson with his 0.1 fWAR, 7.99 ERA and 3.86 BB/9, but his FIP is at 5.03 and his xFIP at 4.17 say that he could have been unlucky. How about Dan Haren? A 4.56 ERA and a 5.69 K/9 were also on the wrong side of the “good line,” but he did have a couple of decent outings sprinkled in there to save his neck. LaTroy Hawkins, Ernesto Frieri and Zack Greinke were also bad this month. Let’s face it, it was a terrible terrible month for Angels pitching. Even Weaver had an uncharacteristic bad start and took two losses this month which brought his season total up to three.
Not a single one of them can touch Jason Isringhausen though. You want to see his line? He produced -0.5 fWAR, A 9.39 ERA that is not helped by his 9.62 FIP, 4.70 BB/9 and a HR/9 of 4.70 which was good for a HR/FB% of 25%. Old Man River was worse than even Hisanori Takahashi this month. Yeah, that bad. In contrast to Jepsen who only allowed a run in TWO of his appearances this month, Isringhausen only had four scoreless appearances this month, including his 1/3 of an inning meltdown against Texas on August 1st. Almost every pitcher was bad this month Jason, but you were by far the worst. Get it together.
Dishonorable Mentions: C.J. Wilson, Dan Haren, Zack Greinke and the rest of the bullpen not named Kevin Jepsen
August has shown us two things about this team. First; This offense is legit. 16 times this month they scored more than five runs. Top to bottom this team is an offensive powerhouse hitting you from every angle with every weapon imaginable. They can run wild on the base paths, they can hit and they can hit for serious power. Probably better than the 2009 team that set the franchise record for runs scored in a single season. Second; Like the hole in the hull of the titanic, the pitching is sinking this $150M cruise ship, and it’s sinking fast. five of the aforementioned 16 games where the Angels scored more than five runs ended in a loss. Including games where they scored eight (twice), nine and ten runs. That simply cannot continue to happen if this club really does want to play baseball past October third.
Today starts a new month with the stretch run officially starting. The offense is ready for the push, but the pitching has to be right there beside them for this thing to work. I might be angry, but I still have faith that they can pull this thing off. Grape Kool-Aid anyone?