The 2013 season so far, has gone anything but “as planned” for the Los Angeles Angels. After another offseason where owner Arte Moreno spent another small (relatively speaking) fortune on the free agent market, the Angels were expected to not only contend, but leave the competition decimated in it’s wake. Anything other than a World Series Championship come mid-November was to be considered a failure. A total and complete, failure.
Fast-forward to the All-Star break, and the Angels aren’t even above .500. They are much closer to it than they were throughout much of April, May and June, but that is a mere consolation prize when one considers the inconsistency that has plagued this team throughout the first half of the season. Not that there haven’t been good performances, or even a recent surge to suggest that the Angels very well could be finally turning it around, but “finally turning it around,” is a phrase that should not be associated with a club stacked with so much talent from top to bottom.
That is not to say that the Angels haven’t had good performances in the first half. Even with being under .500 at the break, they still have players that deserve to be recognized. And other players who deserved to be vilified for either their utter incompetence during the first half, or flat-out under-performance relative to expectations.
So, without further adieu, Here are the Angels first half MVP and LVP, as well as the CY Young and Cy Yuck. Are you as excited as I am for this? Seriously, I can’t contain myself.
MVP: Mike Trout
.322/.399/.565, .410 wOBA, 166 wRC+, 5.7 fWAR
Really? Like there was any other option? Trout is pacing the team in fWAR at 5.7. The nearest competitors in that category are Trumbo and Kendrick who are worth 2 wins apiece. Trailing behind them is Peter Bourjos who is fourth on the team with an fWAR of 1.2. Trout has the highest wOBA, wRC+ , the highest batting average at .322 (Sorry, Pete. But Trout has played in 51 more games than you have up to this point), OBP, SLG%, ISO, everything. He is the biggest reason why we as fans have tuned in to watch the Angels this season. And for most stretches during the season, the only reason.
LVP: Josh Hamilton
.224/.283/.413, .300 wOBA, 91 wRC+, 0.7 fWAR
This was actually a tad bit difficult. Only five Angels players have an fWAR that is greater than 1.0. And Alberto Callaspo has an fWAR of -0.2. But when a player has sky-high expectations, and then proceeds to be half the player he has always been, he is going to get the majority vote. Hamilton hasn’t been any great shakes…OK, I can do better…Hamilton has been a rung above worthless this season, and I almost didn’t bestow this dishonor upon him because his last two weeks mirror the production that he put up in May of last season. But two weeks don’t make up for a first half of suck.
His biggest competition was Pujols, but Albert has 14 points in wRC+ on Hamilton (105-91), 21 points in wOBA (.321-.300) and Pujols actually has the third best strikeout rate among regulars this season. Pujols has not been good this season, In no way am I arguing that he has been. Josh Hamilton has simply been worse.
Honorable Mentions: Albert Pujols, Alberto Callaspo
Cy Young: Ernesto Frieri
22 Saves, 13.5 K/9, 2.88 ERA, 0.7 fWAR
Another choice that I had difficulty coming too. As inconsistent as C.J. Wilson has been, he has still been one of the Angels better starters. But mostly, and this was surprising, it’s relievers that have been the better part of the Angels pitching staff so far this season. And none better than Frieri, and not because of saves. His 35.9 K% is tops on the staff, and his tERA (True Runs Allowed) is also tops at 2.58. And the only reliever to appear more than Frieri is Dane De La Rosa. Another pitcher who garnered some consideration from this blogger.
Honorable Mentions: Dane De La Rosa, C.J. Wilson, Michael Kohn
Cy Yuck: Joe Blanton
2-12, 5.53 ERA, 23 HR allowed, 0.2 fWAR
Was there ever any doubt? OK. I’ll admit it. There was a little doubt. But that was only to keep a sense of fair play in order. That, and I wasn’t exactly sure how many innings Barry Enright had thrown. I knew it wasn’t a lot, but I wasn’t sure if it was enough. There were other pitchers who did receive adequate consideration though. Don’t think that I am using this solely to pick on Joe Blanton and his stupid goatee.
Hanson also hasn’t been very good for the Angels, but he has also only thrown 42% of the innings that Blanton has. That, and, his step-brother died. I’m pretty sure there’s a rule against handing out Cy Yuck’s to pitcher’s who have not performed well but also lost a close relative during the season. Not positive, but pretty sure. Jepsen is another, as well as Jerome Willims.
But it all comes back to Blanton. Joe’s ERA is a starting rotation worst 5.53. His xFIP, is rather stellar at 3.79, but xFIP removes home runs from it’s equation. And Joe Blanton has allowed a Major League high 23 long balls this season. Just because Blanton’s HR% should be closer to the league average then the staggering 18.1% that it is, doesn’t mean that he should get off light.
It has been a rough first half for a team that was supposed to dominate from start to finish this season. And not just rough on the players, but fans as well. At least fans of bad teams have the luxury of low expectations when they get to half way point and see that their team is buried in the standings. There is no such luxury for Angels fans. No such luxury at all.