The Los Angeles Angels have had plenty of underperforming players. The starting rotation hasn't taken off like we had hoped. Mike Trout is having a down year by his standards. The decline of Taylor Ward has been covered thoroughly. Another player who's been abysmal this season is Luis Rengifo.
Rengifo, similar to Ward, was nothing more than an average or even below-average MLB player before breaking out in 2022. He slashed .264/.294/.429 with 17 home runs and 52 RBI. Rengifo had holes in his game like he wasn't a great defender and didn't draw walks, but he was one of only a handful of bright spots from the 2022 season.
Rengifo was a staple in the middle of the Angels' order for months and was one of their most consistent hitters for a good portion of the season. This season, in a lesser role, Rengifo has failed to be productive in any facet of the game.
LA Angels should consider getting rid of Luis Rengifo but likely won't
Last season, Rengifo started 119 games for the Angels. After not appearing in a MLB game in April, he played virtually every day from May through the rest of the season. He showed some flashes of a good MLB player.
Rengifo hit for power, and his ability to switch hit was also valuable for the Angels. He wasn't particularly great against right-handed pitching, but had a .909 OPS against southpaws. While Rengifo wasn't a good defender, he had the ability to at least play a whole bunch of positions. These were all tools he showed last season. This season, he's done almost nothing right.
I say almost nothing because Rengifo has improved with his plate discipline. He's drawn 16 walks in 141 plate appearances, which is almost as many as the 17 walks he drew last season in 511 plate appearances. His walk rate has gone from 3.3% in 2022 to 11.4% in 2023. That is good. The rest of his play has not been good.
He's slashing .205/.305/.270 with two home runs and 16 RBI. I never thought Rengifo's OBP would be higher than his slugging percentage but here we are. After racking up 43 extra-base hits in 2022, he has just four this season. Obviously, his at-bats have been a bit more limited, but Rengifo seems to have completely lost his power which was his best attribute last season.
Rengifo has a .576 OPS which rivals Andrew Velazquez's mark of .540 from last season. We all know how awesome Velazquez was defensively, but how much of a non-factor he was offensively. Rengifo has 0 DRS and ranks in the 30th percentile in outs above average according to baseball savant. So Rengifo is hitting close to how poorly Velazquez was while providing below-average defense. What exactly is he doing well?
The thing Rengifo did at an elite level last season was hit left-handed pitching. This season, he has a .647 OPS against southpaws. While that's better than his overall OPS, this is still not close to getting the job done.
Rengifo is out of options and is one year removed from being a productive hitter. He's a switch-hitter with the ability to play all over the diamond. These are the reasons why he's still here, even though he shouldn't be. The fact that he still plays a good amount of the time tells me the Angels are not close to ready to moving on from him.