After a breakout season last summer, Angels first baseman Jared Walsh is picking up where he left off in 2021.
Sure it’s only been four games, but getting off to a great start is a lot better than struggling to begin your season. Walsh has delivered clutch performances in each of the last two Halos wins.
Walsh delivered again on Sunday Night Baseball, giving the Halos the lead on a solo home run in the bottom of the fifth. After the Angels gave up the lead in the ninth inning, once again the lefty took matters into his own hands.
That bat-to-ball sound bite is still ringing in my ears.
Angels: Jared Walsh looks like he is the real deal.
In nine plate appearances this year, Walsh is 4-for-8 with two home runs and six RBI. There’s still a ways to go, but right now the lefty looks poised to take the next steps in his career as an elite position player.
Since the start of the 2020 season, Walsh is sixth in the league in wRC+ at 172.
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Jared Walsh Career Statistics:
- 2019 (87 PA): (.203/.276/.329) 1 HR 5 RBI
- 2020 (108 PA): (.293/.324/.624) 9 HR 26 RBI
- 2021 (9 PA): (.500/.556/1.500) 2 HR 6 RBI
The more Walsh produces like he has so far, the more playing time he will get at first base. Albert Pujols is in the twilight of his career, and has one hit in eight at-bats this season. Although it was a three-run homer, manager Joe Maddon will likely opt to use Pujols in spot starts as the season continues in favor of a more productivity.
A 39th round pick in 2015, Walsh was overlooked by many. After grinding at each level, he forced his way onto a big-league roster and now he’s in prime position to earn a longterm starting job.
I originally wrote a piece on the Angels going after Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo in the upcoming offseason. That was due in part to the uncertainty of Walsh being the real deal or not in a full-162 season. However, if Walsh continues being productive the Halos could have more than enough at first base for a bargain.
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Some more good news for the Angels is that Walsh is not arbitration eligible until 2023, and is under team-control through the 2025 season. This leaves room to spend money in other areas of the roster, or flip Walsh in a trade where he could potentially bring in a haul.