Nolan Schanuel injury situation shows Angels should probably give him some time off

Nolan Schanuel was back on Monday, but that's not necessarily a good thing.
Los Angeles Angels infielder Nolan Schanuel
Los Angeles Angels infielder Nolan Schanuel / Ric Tapia/GettyImages

Though Nolan Schanuel was back in the Los Angeles Angels lineup on Monday night versus the San Diego Padres, perhaps the Halos should rethink their diagnosis of his injury. The Angels' first baseman returned to his typical spot atop LA's lineup and went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts, lowering his batting average to a meager .219.

Schanuel had missed the the Angels' previous three games with left thumb soreness. Angels' manager Ron Washington told reporters, "There's a little bit of pain he's feeling, but he realized he can deal with it."

Schanuel was said to have injured his thumb during the Angels' road trip to Houston back in late-May and proceeded to play through it until being scratched from Friday's lineup. While fans love to see their favorite players fight through the pain, it's hardly admirable if it's affecting one's performance drastically.

Nolan Schanuel injury situation shows Angels should probably give him some time off

If we take Schanuel at his word, and the injury occurred during the Angels' trip to Houston, he's since been hitting .195/.233/.293 and hasn't drawn a single walk. Schanuel's entire game is built around the fact that he gets on base at a tremendous clip, works the count, and draws a number of free passes. That hasn't been the case in 2024.

According to Baseball Savant, both Schanuel's chase rate and strikeout rate are up this season. After after posting an outstanding 15.2% walk rate in 2023, that number has been more than cut in half through the first two months of the 2024 season.

There are two things that Angels fans can take away from Schanuel's struggles. Either he's injured and needs to be placed on the 10-day IL, or he's struggling mightily and should be optioned down to the minor leagues. Take your pick.

Either way, Schanuel's production in no way warrants him sitting atop Washington's lineup card as the Angels' leadoff hitter. According to FanGraphs, Schanuel has a 4.8% walk rate, .270 on-base percentage, and 71 wRC+ while hitting in the leadoff spot this season.

Regardless of the Angels' rationale behind their decision, they cannot continue to run Schanuel onto the field as an everyday player given the numbers he's put up the past several weeks. Perhaps a brief IL stint is in order, especially given the fact that he missed the entire weekend of play.

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