LA Angels: Who should replace Dexter Fowler in right field?
By Alfonso Cerna
It’s going to be all hands on deck to replace Fowler. The current options who have spent time in right field this season will get their shot: Jared Walsh, Juan Lagares, and Jose Rojas.
One of these three players will need to step up for the Angels.
Joining the ranks of Shohei Ohtani and Mike Trout, Walsh is on pace for a breakout season in 2021. The 27-year-old is slashing .385/.467/.808 with three home runs and eight RBI in 26 plate appearances. I think the use of Walsh in right field will also depend on how well Albert Pujols is swinging the bat. If Pujols is producing, than Walsh will be used in right for a majority of the time. When Pujols is slumping, Walsh will be used at first base while one of the following players will be the right fielder.
Former Gold Glove winner Juan Lagares will be the next man up in right field. Defensively, Lagares has not lost a step since he last won the award in 2014. His limits on offense will be what stops him from getting the nod as the team’s right fielder. He made the 26-man roster after an impressive spring camp where he slashed .375/.405/.575 with two home runs, eight RBI, and three stolen bases in 42 plate appearances. He has yet to record a hit in seven at bats this season, but I think Lagares will need more playing time to find his groove. If he struggles in the next few weeks, the team could call up Taylor Ward or veterans Jon Jay and Scott Schebler from their alternate site.
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The hometown kid, Jose Rojas is one of the best stories of the season so far. He’s scratched and clawed his way to a big-league roster and now he’s got an opportunity to make his case as to why he belongs. A minor left groin injury to Anthony Rendon would have given Rojas the start at third base on Sunday if the game had not been rained out. It’s possible he could be used at the hot corner if Rendon misses extended time, but if not Rojas will get his share of opportunities in the outfield. Maddon has already used Rojas in left and right field this season. He’s still looking for his first hit of 2021 (0-for-8), but a strong spring camp where he slashed .306/.447/.583 with two home runs and six RBI in 36 at-bats is encouraging. Like Lagares, I think Rojas will need consistent playing time to find an offensive rhythm.
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Obviously you never want a player to go down with an injury, but hopefully this opens the door for one or more role players on the Angels. They won’t need to provide 30-plus home runs or 100-plus RBI, but when their opportunity presents itself, someone will need to step up and help this team win.