Ron Washington’s lineup-building process speaks to how dire the Angels’ position is

Apparently even Ron Washington is tired of trying to figure out how to configure this Angels lineup.
Tampa Bay Rays v Los Angeles Angels
Tampa Bay Rays v Los Angeles Angels / Jayne Kamin-Oncea/GettyImages

Los Angeles Angels manager Ron Washington has had his hands full ever since the team decided to hire him before the start of the 2024 season. The Angels were already coming off losing Shohei Ohtani and he inherited a roster that had Mike Trout, who was coming off an injury riddled season, and a whole lot of question marks after that.

Those questions haven't gotten any easier or less numerous as the season has progressed. Trout is hurt again (and so is Anthony Rendon, but no one should have expected anything else) and the rest of the Angels' roster feels like a lot of slightly square pegs that Washington his trying to fit into round holes in order to create some established roles. So far, he has not been able to do so and he has resorted to some ... less than conventional methods.

On Friday, Washington decided to bat the newly promoted Willie Calhoun, who was called up to replace the injured Miguel Sano, at cleanup, which raised a number of eyebrows. When asked about that decision after Friday's win over the Guardians, Washington said he literally wrote some players' names on small pieces of paper and randomly picked one to be his cleanup hitter.

There is a method to Ron Washington's Angels lineup madness

Taken without context, making lineup decisions at random seems to be objectively insane. However, there is more to the story than that. Wash certainly did pick Calhoun's name at random, but he also said that if one of the team's younger players had appeared in the draw, he probably would have changed his mind.

Washington they went to explain that he doesn't trust his young players high in the lineup right now. This also isn't some grizzle old manager that just doesn't trust young guys, either, as Wash kept receipts to explain his thought process. Nearly every time he has placed a guy like Jo Adell, Zach Neto, or Nolan Schanuel in a premium spot in the lineup, they have tried to do too much at the plate and fallen on their faces.

There is a risk that Washington's methodology here leads to some subpar lineups or even hurt some feelings with his young players. However, it is on those guys to perform in those big spots, and while picking names at random doesn't feel like a great process, there is a method to the madness in this particular case until guys start stepping up.

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