Los Angeles Angels 1st Half Evaluation: Second Base
By Christoph Ludwig
When the Los Angeles Angels traded away Howie Kendrick in order to get pitching prospect Andrew Heaney, many people balked at losing the consistency that Howie Kendrick provided.
After a mediocre 2015 season from Johnny Giavotella, Los Angeles Angels general manager Billy Eppler and owner Arte Moreno failed to address the lack of production at the second base position. Instead, Giavotella is back for another season and Cliff Pennington was brought in to provide depth. Gregorio Petit has also seen time at the position. As a whole, Angels second basemen are hitting a poor .260/.295/.391 and defensively have saved 1 run above average. Let’s take a look at each player who has seen time at second base individually.
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Johnny Giavotella: .268/.292/. 397, -1 DRS, 0.5 WAR
Johnny G has gotten the vast majority of the time at second base, and as expected, has underwhelmed. He’s performing almost exactly the same as he did last season (.694 OPS in 2015, .690 this season), and he’s on pace to be worth one win above replacement, the same as last season. His on-base percentage and slugging percentage are still well below average and he isn’t good enough defensively to make up for his shortcomings at the plate. He’s shown improvement with the glove (I guess there is nowhere to go but up when your DRS is -12), but is still below average. It appears that he’ll never live up to his status as a second-round pick and track record of minor league success.
Cliff Pennington: .206/.308/.382, +2 DRS, 0.6 WAR (note: includes time at other positions)
It’s hard to give a grade on this one. Pennington has only played in 26 games total in 2016 due to injuries, with 11 starts coming at second base. His offensive numbers while playing second base aren’t great, but his overall numbers aren’t bad (.276/.344/.397), and he’s already saved 3 more runs defensively at second base than Giavotella despite playing 527 fewer innings at the position. His overall WAR is 0.6, which is higher than Giavotella’s. If he could stay healthy and find the offensive production that he provides when he plays other positions, he could easily take the job from Giavotella.
Gregorio Petit: .235/.316/.294, 0 DRS, 0.1 WAR (note: includes time at other positions)
Again, it’s hard to grade this one. Petit has spent the majority of his time filling in for Andrelton Simmons at shortstop, but he’s also made four starts at second base. He didn’t make much of an impact one way or the other (although his offensive production left something to be desired) and actually played the full game at second only once.
Petit has done very well at both shortstop and third and provided more versatility than anyone else on the Angels roster. However, it is not fair to grade Petit based on such few opportunities at 2B.
Overall second base has not been a great position for the Los Angeles Angels in 2016, however it is not the biggest hole on the team.