Angels manager Joe Maddon hasn’t been with the team long, but he’s already a big fan of the team’s biggest sparkplug, David Fletcher.
Los Angeles Angels Joe Maddon is in his first season back with the club and he has a lot of new faces to get acquainted with. He had a brief crash course in March before things got shut down. However, now that summer camp has resumed and the season appears to be starting soon he has more time to get acclimated to his roster.
Seven days into the new camp, Maddon’s already learning one of the truths that Angels fans have already become accustomed to; David Fletcher is a gamer.
Speaking with the media on Thursday, including Maria Torres of the LA Times, Maddon was very complimentary of the team’s sparkplug.
"“He’s played these games exactly like he plays regular-season games. Does that surprise anybody? No.”"
For his part, Fletcher has done an awful lot in two intrasquad games this week. After getting two hits on Tuesday, including a double off of Opening Day starter Andrew Heaney, he added a triple and a home run on Thursday.
In extended play last season, Fletcher saw 653 plate appearances in 2019 and turned in a slash line of .290/.350/.384 with six home runs, 83 runs scored, and 49 RBI. Additionally, he played exceptional defense across five different positions. All that added up to a solid 3.4 fWAR on the season.
After a breakout campaign last season, the Angels are expecting Fletcher to be a strong contributor again in 2020. There are some worries about potential regression, as he had the second-lowest ISO (.094) among hitters that qualified for the batting title last season. However, Fletcher also ranked second in all of baseball in strikeout percentage (9.8%), making him one of the best contact hitters in the game.
In a lineup with big home run potential, Fletcher is exactly the guy the team needs to do the small things to keep innings alive. Add the ability to play multiple positions and that’s the type of hard-nosed player that a manager like Joe Maddon appreciates, right in the mold of Ben Zobrist, but without the power.
David Fletcher isn’t waiting for the regular season to show him either. He’s ready to go now.