LA Angels: 3 key takeaways from the Opening Series
Angels Opening Series: Jared Walsh is ready to supplant Albert Pujols full-time.
A 39th round pick in the 2015 MLB Draft, few people outside of Jared Walsh‘s close family and friends expected him to be an everyday MLB player.
Going that deep in the draft, front offices are hoping for a late-bloomer that might be able to contribute as a multi-role utility guy, or a long reliever providing some versatility to their bullpen. Walsh, however, consistently hit across every minor league level, forcing the front office’s hand to keep moving him up through the farm system. Walsh earned a call-up in 2019, although he’d go on to scuffle hitting .203 with one home run in 34 games. The Angels stuck with him – giving him another call up on August 28, 2020, despite him having a career .180/.247/.292 slash line with one home run in 97 MLB plate appearances.
In September, Walsh slashed .337/.368/.744 with nine bombs, giving him Rookie of Month honors, and a giving the Angels a glimmer of hope into what could be their first base future.
Given the small sample size of success, many wondered if Walsh could stick as an everyday first baseman. A lousy spring in which Walsh hit .205 with only one extra base hit in 52 plate appearances left Maddon and the Angels with more questions than answers as to who Jared Walsh ultimately is.
Well, two starts at first base later during the Opening Series, and Walsh has four hits in eight ABs, including a triple and two home runs, one of which sent the Angels home with a series win on Sunday Night Baseball:
With Albert Pujols continually on the decline and in the last year of his far too lengthy ten-year, $240M contract signed in 2012, the Angels should have confidence giving Walsh the nod at first base permanently moving forward.