Why David Fletcher is the most valuable Angels position player in 2021
By Alfonso Cerna
So you were probably expecting to see Mike Trout or Anthony Rendon in this piece, weren’t you? Instead, I believe David Fletcher will be the most valuable position player for the Angels in 2021.
Don’t get me wrong, Trout and Rendon will need to play to their superstar levels for the Halos to have success on offense this season, but that’s expected. The Angels will need other players to step into larger roles and take some of the burdens off their two best players, and I think Fletcher will be that guy.
Call him a spark plug, the straw that stirs the drink, whatever you want; every successful team has a Fletcher-type player on the roster. The Orange County native isn’t flashy and won’t hit 40+ home runs, but he works hard and gets the job done. Fletcher showed promise in his first two seasons with the Angels and put together an All-Star campaign last summer.
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David Fletcher First Three Seasons:
- 2018: (80 games) .275/.316/.363 1 HR 25 RBI 2.27 K/BB
- 2019: (154 games) .290/.350/.384 6 HR 49 RBI 1.16 K/BB
- 2020: (49 games) .319/.376/.425 3 HR 18 RBI 1.25 K/BB
I think one of Fletcher’s best qualities is his low strikeout percentage. Today’s era of baseball calls for teams out-slugging one another, which leads to lots of swings and misses. That’s quite the opposite of Fletcher’s game. Last season Fletcher posted MLB’s fifth lowest strikeout percentage (10.9%) in 230 at-bats.
The 26-year old is no slouch with the glove either. Fletcher finished with a .973 fielding percentage while playing second base, shortstop, and third base for the Halos last summer. The addition of Jose Iglesias will push Fletcher to second and will make a solid defense up the middle for the Angels this season.
David Fletcher took a big leap forward last season, and will play a key role in the offensive success of the Angels in 2021.
There’s an idea to use Fletcher as trade bait this offseason. Fletcher is still relatively young and will be arbitration-eligible until 2025. His value is arguably at an all-time high after last summer, but I would not trade Fletcher unless it is involved in a true franchise-altering deal.
It’s not easy to find players like Fletcher these days, so getting rid of him without finding a suitable replacement will be harder to do than most would think. Fletcher finished with the team’s third best WAR (1.8) in a shortened 2020 season, just behind Trout (1.9) and Rendon (2.1).
The leadoff man is an underappreciated role in baseball these days, but it is still essential to a contending team. To give you an idea, Mookie Betts got on base multiple times as the leadoff man for the Dodgers in each of their four wins against the Rays in the 2020 World Series. In the two games the Dodgers lost during that series, Betts reached base zero times.
Fletcher getting on base, moving runners over, and doing all the other ‘small ball’ things that make him great will take the pressure off the rest of the lineup.
Manager Joe Maddon compared Fletcher to Angels legend David Eckstein which is some high-praise. Eckstein was far from physically gifted, but the man was a pure winner, who never left the field with a clean uniform. Eckstein’s similar play style led to his significant roles on two World Series teams, including the 2002 Halos.
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There will definitely be some other factors that play into the Angels success in 2021. The Halos still need another starting pitcher, so that will obviously play a key role. Offensively, it will still be a group effort, but I’m willing to bet whatever success the team has at the plate, David Fletcher will be in the center of all the action.