Jared Walsh (Career Statistics)
- 2019: 87 PA .203/.276/.329 1 HR 5 RBI
- 2020: 108 PA .293/.324/.646 9 HR 26 RBI
Albert Pujols (Last Five Seasons)
- 2016: 650 PA .268/.323/.457 31 HR 119 RBI
- 2017: 636 PA .241/.286/.386 23 HR 101 RBI
- 2018: 498 PA .245/.289/.411 19 HR 64 RBI
- 2019: 545 PA .244/.305/.430 23 HR 93 RBI
- 2020: 163 PA .224/.270/.395 6 HR 25 RBI
In this writer’s opinion, the biggest X-factor of the Angels offense will be Jared Walsh at first base. You know what you are going to get with Trout and Rendon in the middle of the lineup. David Fletcher will drive pitchers nuts at the top of the order. Justin Upton is on the decline but could potentially bounce back, and Shohei Ohtani continues to be an anomaly.
The Angels struggled in the middle of last season, hovering around the bottom five of the league most of the year. However, the team was four games short of the playoffs, so what changed? A left-handed bat came in and slugged .744 in September. Walsh had not impressed in his first two stints in the majors, but once the calendar flipped to September last season, it was like a whole new player.
Jared Walsh will get his opportunities to become the first baseman of the future for the Angels this season.
While it is a small sample size, the Angels are hoping that Walsh can continue to build off of his torrid final month of the season and become a key contributor to the offense. With a heavily right-handed lineup, Walsh has the perfect opportunity to slip into the lineup and provide pop from the left side of the plate.
Walsh, of course, will be battling with Albert Pujols for playing time at first base this upcoming season. While enough has been said about the contract and the decline, it will be interesting to see how Pujols plays on what is not only the last year of his contract but could potentially be the end of his career.
While he may be past the point of having several meaningful at-bats and his opportunities on defense have become fewer, this year is an opportunity to appreciate the career of one of the greatest ever to do it. With 662 home runs to go along with 2100 RBI, it seems that every time Albert hits the ball, he is making some sort of history. While his play may not directly help the team on the field, this last year of having Pujols in the clubhouse could go along way by creating a culture for the future.
While he has been able to play with guys like Trout and Rendon, the Pujols-effect could be a benefit for guys like Jo Adell, Brandon Marsh, and Reid Detmers, the potential future of this Angels team moving forward.
Pujols is a legend of the game, and though his playing time may decline on this final year, fans should rejoice that we could see the end of this legendary career before our own eyes in Anaheim.
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There is a lot to be excited for with this Angels infield in 2021. On both sides of the ball, there is serious potential to be the best group in the league.