Angels Baseball: Three potential obstacles to the 2020 season
By Kyle Franzoni
2020 Angels Season Obstacles: Will role players regress?
In addition to Anthony Rendon stepping into the fray and becoming a solid contributor for the Angels, the team will also need to lean heavily on the other pieces of the lineup. This holds especially true for those players that far exceeded their previous production a season ago.
The Angels got career years out of Tommy La Stella and Brian Goodwin in 2019. While La Stella only appeared in 80 games last season, he set career highs in HR (16), RBI (44), runs (49), and fWAR (2.0). On the other hand, Goodwin also had career bests in HR (17), RBI (47), runs (65), and fWAR (1.9).
It goes without saying that both players will figure prominently in the team’s plans for 2020. However, can both players maintain that production, or should the Angels expect the pair to regress to their career norms?
For instance, La Stella has never hit more than five home runs in a single season and only once prior produced a higher wRC+ than the 122 he put up in 2019. With that said, his baBIP of .282 was in line with his career norm of .291. However, he saw a huge uptick in his hard-hit rate, from a career average of 33% to 43.2% in 2019.
Goodwin doesn’t have the overall track record of La Stella to play off of, but he also saw an increase in hard-hit rate (37.8% vs 365). However, while his hard-hit rate increased, his home runs per flyballs hit actually dropped to a career-low 13.8%. He did see an increase in doubles, hitting 29 a season ago, but if that becomes a trend, the team can expect his home runs to drop.
The good news for the Angels is that the team does have other options available should either player regress. In particular, David Fletcher is able to take reps from La Stella and uber-prospect Jo Adell is looming over Goodwin’s shoulder and nearing his MLB debut. Ideally, the Angels would like to put that off a season, but if Goodwin struggles, Adell could be called up to step up.
Long story short, the Angels have an opportunity to be dangerous in 2020, but they’ll have to address these questions along the way to truly compete for a playoff spot.