LA Angels Lineup Deadly Despite Lack of Lefties
The LA Angels were not expected to have the offseason they did. To resign Justin Upton while bringing in Shohei Ohtani, Ian Kinsler, and Zack Cozart has general manager Billy Eppler already in the running for Executive of the Year. However, they did ignore one flaw in their lineup, and took a big risk in doing so.
The LA Angels were mentioned alongside many left-handed hitters this season. Adding a lefty to put between Mike Trout and Upton or behind Pujols was reportedly a top task on Eppler’s to-do list. However, both Kinsler and Cozart both hit from the right side. Ohtani bats left-handed, but given his potentially elite pitching, he will not be a regular in the Halos’ lineup.
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That leaves the Angels with only one regular left-handed bat in Kole Calhoun, who saw regression in 2017, when he only hit .253 against RHP. For a lineup to be so right-handed heavy is risky, given that batters usually struggle more so against pitchers who throw from the same side they pitch. With the majority of pitchers being right-handed in the MLB, one could think that even with their additions, the Angels could struggle against RHP.
However, Cozart and Kinsler both have shown their ability to hit well against both types of pitchers. In his breakout 2017 season, Cozart hit .285 against righties with a .372 on-base percentage. The 35-year old Kinsler has a .263 career average with a .342 OBP against RHP.
For the first time in years, it seems as if every position for the Halos will be predominantly handled by one player. Cozart and Upton have put an end to the platoons at third and left field, respectively. Kinsler is looking for a bounce back year while also solving the problem at second base.
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The Angels are going to have one of the most unconventional lineups come 2018. With the right-handed heavy regulars and the Ohtani experiment, Mike Scioscia is going to have his work cut out for him. However, the lineup may just be crazy enough to work for the Halos.