Where does Luis Valbuena fit in for the 2018 LA Angels?

CHICAGO, IL - SEPTEMBER 28: Luis Valbuena
CHICAGO, IL - SEPTEMBER 28: Luis Valbuena /

The LA Angels have big plans this offseason as they gear up for a postseason push in 2018. With so many big names being thrown around, what piece is Luis Valbuena in the puzzle?

The LA Angels had an interesting case with Valbuena in 2018. He did not make his debut with the team until May, a month in which he hit .176. However, Valbuena still showed his value despite not having the skill to be an everyday starter.

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However, Valbuena was one of the most clutch players for the Angels in 2017. 18 of Valbuena’s 22 home runs came when the Angels were within four runs. He had eight huge home runs when the game had only a one run differential.

On top of that, Valbuena was also an extra-base machine last season. Of his 69 hits, 37 of them (53.6%) were for extra bases. He consistently drove the ball when he did make contact, and that line drive approach is valuable in a pitcher’s ballpark like The Big A.

Given the Angels have been linked to free agent third baseman Mike Moustakas for months, it seems all but likely the third base position, Valbuena’s primary spot in 2017, will be held down by the two-time All Star. That leaves fewer opportunities for Valbuena, but does not leave him out of the picture.

If the Angels are able to bring in Moustakas or another veteran third baseman, the most reasonable role for Valbuena would be to split time with C.J Cron. While both Valbuena and Cron are better against right-handed pitching, Cron is substantially better against southpaws on the mound.

Next: Is CJ Cron on his way out?

Valbuena’s standard statistics don’t meet the level of Cron’s against righties, but his ability to perform in the clutch should not be overlooked. He also finds a way to get on base more often, as Cron seems to either go deep or strike out swinging at a ball in the dirt more often than anything.

No matter what his role is in 2018, Valbuena will find a way to be valuable for the Halos and their playoff aspirations.