Los Angeles Angels outfielder Taylor Ward has had a brutal season thus far. His numbers are down across the board, and he just hasn't looked anything close to the player he was last season. Ward hasn't been hitting the ball as hard, and it felt like he hasn't been as disciplined at the plate.
The numbers back this up. After ranking in the 93rd percentile in chase rate last season, he's in the 52nd percentile this season according to baseball savant. His contact rates are all lower this season than last. Heading into the St. Louis series, Ward was slashing .208/.320/.311 with three home runs and 10 RBI in 29 games and 106 at-bats. He was walking a decent amount, but that's about it. And even then, the walks mostly came at the beginning of the month of April.
For the Angels to get through this tough month of May and the rest of the season, they need Taylor Ward to be 2022 Taylor Ward. They need him to be the all-star-caliber player he was last season. After a month-long slump, Ward finally showed signs of breaking out of it in St. Louis.
LA Angels outfielder has monster series in St. Louis, helps team complete sweep
In the three games the Halos played in St. Louis, Ward had six hits in 12 at-bats with a home run and four RBI. His average climbed from .208 to .237, and his OPS rose from .631 to .698. All from three games. Those numbers are obviously great, but Ward could've been even better if he had batted-ball luck.
In the first game of the series, Ward had one hit in four at-bats. That one hit left the ballpark. He struck out once, but the other balls he put in play were clocked at 103.1 mph and 92.2 mph.
In the second game, Ward had two hits in four at-bats. Both of his hits were singles, at 102.6 mph and 97.4 mph respectively. He struck out once, but the other ball he put in play was clocked at 94.2 mph.
The final game saw Ward record three hits in four at-bats. He had two singles and a double. The exit velocities on those were 104.7, 100.7, and 99.9 mph. Ward grounded into a double play in which the ball went 103.9 mph off the bat, and the sacrifice fly he hit was at 94.8 mph.
Statcast defines a hard-hit ball at anything 95 mph or up. Ward's slowest hit ball in the three games was clocked at 92.2 mph. He only had two balls put in play that did not round up to 95 mph or higher. That, in 12 at-bats, is pretty absurd.
Ward was using the whole field and was hitting bullets all over the place. Facing the Cardinals pitching staff certainly helped, and I don't expect this kind of output from really anybody over an entire series, but the signs are certainly there that Ward is breaking out of his funk.
It's all about timing with Ward, and it looks like he's found his timing. Heading into a crucial homestand, the hope is Ward carries this success over.
The outfielder has found a home in the lower part of the lineup, and Ward shouldn't move while he's swinging a good bat. Zach Neto looks very comfortable in the leadoff spot, and Ward, when right, is more than capable hitting sixth and driving in runs like he did in this Cardinals series.