Monday, October 17, 2005

I'm stealing a format here that Bill James used in his 1992 Baseball Book, where he did this "Team in a Box" thing. I'm adapting it to my purposes here, and you'll get the idea as it goes along. There are a lot of subjective elements, so feel free to disagree; there's a comments section and everything!

2005 Won-Lost Record: 99-73, including a 4-6 record in the postseason

Best Player: Vlad

Weak Spots: Center field, first base, DH, bullpen depth

Best Starting Pitcher: Bartolo Colon

Best Relief Pitcher: Francisco Rodriguez

Staff Weakness: The back of the bullpen, which led to overwork of the primary bullpen guys

Best Bench Player: Whichever of Rivera or Kotchman was more "bench" than the other

Most Pleaseant Surprise: Ervin Santana

Biggest Disappointment: Steve Finley

Park Characteristics: It's a pitchers park; 91.8% runs were scored in Angel home games (by both teams) than road games

Ownership -- A+
Upper Management -- B+
Field Management -- A
Front-Line Talent -- A
Second-Line Talent -- B
Minor League System: A+

Background: The Angels won the World Championship in 2002, the Injury Championship in 2003, and the AL West Championship in 2004, falling in three ALDS games to the Boston Red Sox.

Outlook: With the A's retooling, the Angels were the pick to win the division for a second straight year. I predicted the Angels would go 95-67.

Getaway: The Angels went 13-11 in April, 17-11 in May, and 17-9 in June, separating themselves from the Rangers and A's.

High Point of the Season: Would have to be the ALDS victory. As for the regular season, it would be the clinching in September.

Low Point of the Season: Either the ALCS, or that brief period late in the season when Oakland caught up and surpassed us. The bad time began with a four-game sweep at the hands of the Seattle Mariners right before the All Star Break. The trademark game of the Angel summer was the 2-1 loss in 18 innings in Toronto.

Stretch Drive: After two months of mediocrity (26-27 over July and August), the Angels finally turned it on in September and October, going 21-9 and winning 14 of their last 17 games.

Major Injuries: Dallas McPherson as hurt for most of the year, providing a big power deficit for the offense. Bartolo Colon was injured in the ALDS and unavailable for the ALCS, and Vlad fought shoulder injuries off and on all year, and seemed visibly bothered by his left shoulder in the playoffs.

Offense: Mediocre and inconsistent. The only hitter better than decent was Vlad, meaning that the pressure of the whole offense rested on him. When he went through slumps, as he did and any player is bound to do, the offense was lost at sea. Overall, the team ranked 8th in the league in OPS+.

Defense: The infield defense was superb, with even Dallas McPherson performing adequately when he could play. The outfield, not so much, with Finley stinking up center and Vlad and Garret Anderson providing average range on the corners. The Angels ranked 6th in the league in Defensive Efficiency (turning balls in play into outs).

Pitching: Both the starting rotation and bullpen were excellent. The Angels were tied for 4th in the league in ERA+.

Number of players having good seasons by their own standards: Vlad's rate stats were fine, but his injuries kept down his counting stats. Bengie hit much better than he usually does.

Over-Achiever: Bengie

Under-Achiever: Finley

Infield: Decent. The two best players on the infield were Kennedy and Figgins, both of which are good fielders and better-than-average offensive performers. Cabrera and Erstad are good defenders, but their offense was predictably subpar.

Outfield: Okay. Vlad was Vlad, but Finley was done and Garret struggled through injuries to put up a pretty mediocre year, with declining defense to boot.

Catching: Bengie was the bat and Jose the glove and arm.

Starting Pitching: Excellent.

Relief Pitching: Excellent, but overworked at times.

Hall of Fame Watch: Vlad, the only real Hall of Fame guy the Angels have, did nothing to hurt his career numbers. Despite playing in only 141 games, he still hit 32 home runs and drove in 108.

Players with a chance for 3000 hits or 500 home runs: By Bill James' Favorite Toy, Vlad has a 62.2% chance of hitting 500 home runs and a 30.7% chance of 3,000 hits. Garret Anderson has a 12.5% chance of 3000 hits.

Best Interview: Ervin Santana

Best Fundamental Player: Probably Kennedy or Cabrera. Erstad might have an argument, and Rivera has terrific fundamentals in the outfield.

Worst Fundamental Player: Vlad

Best Defensive Player: Erstad, maybe Kennedy and Cabrera; and Jose Molina

Worst Defensive Player: Steve Finley

Best Knowledge of the Strike Zone: Casey Kotchman, with a shout-out to Jeff DaVanon.

Least Command of the Strike Zone: Darin Erstad has a fascinating combination of no walks and many strikeouts. Steve Finley was also a total mess, and Garret Anderson was his normal free-swinging self, with an increased strikeout rate the last couple of years.

Fastest Runner: There's a reason I call him The Legs.

Slowest Runner: Everyone knows this.

Best Baserunner: Cabrera. Okay, maybe it's Figgins with the speed, but The OC really does a good job on the basepaths and deserves some credit.

Most Likely to Still Be Here in 2015: Ervin Santana

Best Fastball: Colon

Best Breaking Pitch: Frankie, when he's on. Otherwise it's Lackey's slurve. Or Shields' fastball.

Best Control: Paul Byrd is The Wyrd.

Most Overrated Player: Darin Erstad

Most Underrated Player: Adam Kennedy

Manager's Pet Strategy: Arguing with everything and wasting the #2 spot in the order.

Most Fun to Watch: Vlad

Least Fun to Watch: Finley

Managerial Type: Josh Paul

What Needs to be Done for 2006: This will be the subject of various posts to come, but the short list:

1. Sort out the 1B/CF/DH situation.
2. Decide if Bengie returns as catcher.
3. Decide which of Jarrod Washburn, The Wyrd, or a Free Agent gets to complete the rotation.
4. Get some real bullpen help so Scot Shields doesn't die.

Outlook for 2006: It's good, but with some caveats. The A's' young pitchers will be one year better, and the Angels have a lot to figure out in the next couple of months.

Due for a better season: If Garret Anderson can stay healthy, he can be better. Ditto Dallas McPherson.

Likely to have a worse season: Bengie's bat is likely to decline a little.

On Bullpen weakness:
I think a lot of the bullpen problems are due to Percy leaving. K-Rod was ready to be a closer, no question, but a lot of us didn't do the math and realize that we were expecting Shields to replace K-Rod (a problem) and then we had no one to replace Shields. Replacing Percy wasn't the problem, it was replacing K-Rod that proved impossible and killed us.
The team's biggest problems was the overuse of nicknames. K-Rod, (Tie Rod, Fishing Rod...when will it end?) Benjie, Ersty, Vlad, OC. When MacPherson gets back, will he be called....Dally? ....it just got so unbearable.
When MacPherson gets back, will he be called....Dally?

I think he's already called "D-Mac"
I'm not so sure the A's rotation will be that much better to be honest. Harden I expect to be nails, but two of their guys (Blanton, Zito) make the top ten in the list of luckiest pitchers by DIP% according to ESPN. Some of that improvement is illusory.
I think you're right on track and not many people are willing to admit that they share your views. colony lost is an AWESOME place to discuss LOST.
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