Is C.J Cron’s position with the LA Angels in flux?

ANAHEIM, CA - SEPTEMBER 13: C.J. Cron
ANAHEIM, CA - SEPTEMBER 13: C.J. Cron /
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With the recent news that the LA Angels are looking in on multiple free agent first basemen it brings the status of C.J Cron into question. The potential upgrades look tempting, but is it truly necessary? Does Cron stand to bring more value on the field, or as a trade piece?

The LA Angels have been checking in on multiple first baseman on the free agent market as of late. Players such as Carlos Santana and Logan Morrison, both highly talented players who may command a bit of length with their upcoming contract.

Now, with the conversation revolving who the Angels are looking at for first base I have a question I need answered.

I don’t want to assume that any signing automatically means “bye-bye” for Cron, but it would be silly to ignore that looming question. It’s true that Cron could continue to take a slightly diminishing role that saw his total AB’s drop well below the 400 mark for only the second time in his career.

The playing time is already up for grabs, though with a well established first baseman like Morrison or Santana it’s very feasible Cron sees even less playing time in 2018. Is this really optimal for both the Angels and Cron? Where does his value stand with the Angels, is he an attractive trade piece or is his value greater with the Angels?

First we need to break down his stats, at first glance they seem average enough. Cron’s slash line of .248/.305/.437 is nothing to mock, but it isn’t wildly encouraging either. Add in his lacking power which saw him club only 16 HR’s throughout the season and it might seem apparent the Angels need a hitter who can rise to the occasion more often.

Do those stats really tell the whole story? Let’s see how Cron performed when it came down to crunch time. C.J Cron may not seem like the most dependable hitter with his stat lines, yet when you break it down the picture becomes much more clear.

With RISP Cron found a way to bring a more complete image of himself as a player to the plate. In 84 AB’s throughout the 2017 season Cron batted an encouraging .262/.330/..512. Not only that but he hit 6 HR’s with RISP while collecting 39 total RBI’s.

Pretty good, right?

Wait, it get’s better? It does indeed; looking at Cron’s stats with RISP and 2 outs and you’ll come to a stark realization. This guy is clutch. 

In two out, RISP situations, Cron knocked pitchers around to a tune of .289/.341/.632 in 39 AB’s with only 9 K’s. Let me put that into perspective for you. Mike Trout, the Angels go to guy, posted a slash line of .267/.522/.567 and 2 HR’s (15 RBI) in 30 AB’s in the same situations. He get’s on base like an animal in the clutch, but it doesn’t seem like he puts the bat to the ball as much as one would hope.

Cron’s power stats in the same situation? 4 HR’s and 17 RBI’s, and I must remind you he did this while posting a .289 BA. In the clutch, C.J is king, and I still need to go deeper into his clutch stats to paint the full picture.

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In August of 2017, which was a critical month for the Halos as they fought to close the Wild Card gap which saw them floating around 2 GB’s most of the month, Cron put up his best numbers of the season. The team called, and he rose to the occasion with a slash line of .303/.376/.604 in the month of August. The vast majority of his power production came in August as he put up his highest HR and RBI total of the season with 7HR/18RBI in 91 AB’s.

As much as his general, season long stats may make it seem, C.J Cron absolutely produces when the rubber hits the road. His value with the Angels seems to border on “really good” depending on how you want to absorb his overall performance, but I do have to wonder. Does he hold more value elsewhere?

It pains me to think this, but at the same time this trade proposal makes too much sense. The Miami Marlins are looking to ship out star first baseman Giancarlo Stanton this season, easily the best power-hitting first baseman in baseball. What am I getting at here? Easy first baseman swap with the Marlins?

It’s no question the Angels desperately need to cover their production from 2nd base, more so than they do at first. Yet a swap of Cron in a package for Gordon looks like an easy winner for the Halos. They’re already linked to multiple free agent first basemen and seem willing to bring on another bat to cover first.

The news that the Angels are looking in on trades for 2nd basemen makes it all the more likely that his value as a trade piece may be burning a hole in the Angels pocket.

Next: Second Basemen Up For Grabs for Halos

What do I think? I love C.J Cron and the production he brings in the clutch, but this is almost too good to pass up. The Marlins will need to cover the first base hole with youth and power once Stanton leaves and the Angels are desperate for a 2nd baseman.

It might seem like a no-brainer, but sometimes no-brainers end up as the worst decision to be made.