Last season, in a season full of lowlights, the play of Taylor Ward was one highlight for Los Angeles Angels fans to look back on. After an underwhelming beginning to his MLB career, Ward broke out in a big way in 2022 and looked like a rising star.
Ward slashed .281/.360/.473 with 23 home runs and 65 RBI in 135 games last season. He began the season piping hot before crashing into the outfield wall and injuring himself. While trying to play through the pain the outfielder struggled, but once he was back to 100% in September, Ward was crushing baseballs again.
After a great Spring Training and a great couple of weeks to begin this season, Ward has simply not looked like the player we got accustomed to. He has just one home run in the last month after hitting two in the first four games of the season. He's not drawing walks like he was last season, and has just three extra-base hits in the month of May. An argument can be made that Ward should lose playing time, but a platoon would not be the answer.
LA Angels should not consider platooning Taylor Ward with Mickey Moniak
If it were me, I'd give Taylor Ward more time to try and find his swing. He was too good last season to bench less than two months into this season. However, with the way Mickey Moniak has swung the bat from Spring Training, to the minors, to his first MLB action of this season, I wouldn't be too upset at the Angels for benching Ward.
Moniak continues to show flashes of that number one pick potential. He has six hits in 15 at-bats in the majors this season with two leadoff home runs and two stolen bases. He still strikes out a lot as he has fanned six times already, but the potential is easy to see. Moniak is proving that at the very least, he deserves to be on the MLB roster even if I don't think he will be for too long barring an injury.
If the Angels decide to bench Ward for Moniak, I'd be fine with that. If they decide to platoon them, that's where they lost me. You simply have to look at Ward's splits to understand why.
Last season, Ward slashed .286/.363/.501 with 19 home runs and 51 RBI against right-handed pitching. While facing southpaws, Ward slashed .268/.354/.401 with four home runs and 14 RBI. He wasn't bad against lefties, but it's very clear who Ward fared better against.
This season, the difference has been just as stark. He's slashing .252/.321/.358 with three home runs and 11 RBI against righties, while slashing .191/.300/.262 with one home run and five RBI against lefties. He hasn't been good against either hand, but he's been much better against righties than lefties.
With Ward being a clear reverse-splits guy, the Angels would be playing him against the side he hits worse against. I understand that it'd benefit Moniak, but Ward should be benched before he becomes a guy who only plays against lefties.
The Angels have options against lefties. A guy like Luis Rengifo who they've been using in the outfield would be better than Ward. He mashed against southpaws last season and even with his bad year so far in 2023, he's slashing .275/.368/.333 against lefties.
I'm bringing this up because this is the direction the Angels appear to be heading in. Moniak started against the righty yesterday, but was lifted for Ward as a pinch-hitter against left-hander Cionel Perez. On Wednesday, Ward was lifted for Moniak as a pinch hitter against the right-hander Felix Bautista.
Again, I'd still ride with Ward for a little bit longer, but wouldn't be mad if the Angels gave Moniak the majority of starts in left field. Just don't platoon them. Ward is not good against lefties, and the Angels have players who are.