Can Craig Gentry Revive His Career With the Angels?

By Christoph Ludwig

Angel fans are surely familiar with new outfielder Craig Gentry, who has spent his entire career in the AL West. He played his first five seasons with the Texas Rangers, then played the last two with the Oakland A’s. He signed with the Angels in the offseason to a non-guaranteed one-year $1 million deal and is expected to be part of a platoon in left field along with fellow newcomer Daniel Nava.

Craig Gentry had three good seasons with Texas from 2011-2013, averaging .285/.362/.374 and 18 stolen bases. He appeared to benefit from playing half of his games in the hitter-friendly Globe Life Park, with his career batting average being 43 points higher at home than on the road.

Gentry’s numbers dropped significantly to .254/.319/.289 in his first season in Oakland in 2014, perhaps the most pitcher-friendly ballpark in the majors. He really struggled in 2015, hitting just .120/.196/.200 in 26 games at the major league level. He spent most of the season at Triple-A Nashville, where he also performed poorly, hitting .256/.319/.327, although he did steal 25 bases. He’ll be looking to turn his career around in Anaheim.

So what does he bring to the table? Craig Gentry is an average defender and runs relatively well, as his stolen base numbers can attest. He doesn’t hit for any power, with just four career home runs.  Since Gentry is expected to be part of a platoon, the main question that has to be asked is: Can he hit lefties?  The numbers suggest that he can, but not spectacularly. In his career against left-handers, he’s hit .274/.354/.366, which is decent but not great.

The Angels hope his good on base skills from 2011-13 return, and he can help bring some speed to a team that finished 28th out of 30 in total stolen bases and were last in stolen base percentage. Craig Gentry’s skills translate well into manager Mike Scioscia’s style of play, which is being aggressive on the base paths: stealing bases and going from first to third whenever possible.

After an off-season that started with high expectations about the Angels going after one of the big name left field free agents Cespedes, Upton, Davis, and Heyward to fill their left field void, a left-field platoon with Craig Gentry and Daniel Nava is a major disappointment to most.

Someone told me recently that you don’t need an all-star at every position and the Angels will test that strategy this season.  Hopefully Gentry and fellow platoon mate Daniel Nava will be up to the challenge. Time will tell…