The Los Angeles Angels have made great improvements to their roster heading into the 2023 season but have left one glaring hole. Yes, the rotation could use another starter, but with the Angels' plans on how they'd use that sixth starter, it's not the end of the world. They could also use a catcher but who knows, maybe Logan O'Hoppe will live up to his potential immediately. Not addressing that position is a decision I can understand even if I don't agree with it.
The area the Angels failed to address is their shortstop position. After what we witnessed last season, I can't possibly understand why. The Angels have six infielders who all deserve a roster spot which is great, but none of them can say they're a primary shortstop. That's a problem and could be a big problem this season.
The Angels failing to address the shortstop position could come back to haunt them as they push for a playoff spot
The Angels are a much better team now than they were at the end of the 2022 season. They've addressed many holes that they had, but the shortstop position is still a weak point to say the least.
David Fletcher is a second baseman, not a shortstop. He's a capable defender at short, but his best position is second base. Fletcher also does not hit well enough to earn a starting job. Last season he was limited to just 61 games due to injury but had a .621 OPS and a 77 OPS+. In 2021 he stayed healthy playing in 157 games but had a .622 OPS and a 70 OPS+. That simply is not going to cut it.
With Fletcher not being an elite defender at short, there's almost no justification to play him there every day unless his bat is at least slightly below average. He's been a non-factor for the last two seasons on that side of the ball.
Luis Rengifo is a better hitter than Fletcher, but also just isn't a shortstop. He had -2 DRS and -2 OAA at the position last season. He's played just 58 games there in his career and has -7 OAA at short. With no shift, it'll likely be even harder for him to play the position.
With Fletcher and Rengifo, the Angels have to ask themselves if it's worth having the better hitter but worse defender at shortstop or having the better defender and worse hitter there.
The Angels do have guys like Gio Urshela and Brandon Drury who have very minimal experience at short and should probably only be used there in case of emergency.
The Angels could have signed a legitimate shortstop, albeit a less exciting one, in Elvis Andrus who just signed with the White Sox for $3 million. They could've traded for a Gold Glove defender but a poor hitter in Miguel Rojas to play short. Signing one of the star shortstops was also an option, but probably an unrealistic one.
Unless someone really impresses in the Spring, shortstop is a spot Angels fans should be worried about. It's such an important position offensively and especially defensively. The Angels don't roster a single primary shortstop and every option has its flaws.
This Angels team is better, but this is a miss. If it becomes an issue in the regular season, hopefully Perry has a solution on the trade market.