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Wednesday, August 23, 2006

THE HARD WAY
Last night the Angels faced one of the top offenses in the league, spotted them three runs with inept defense, and still managed to win.

Sure, Boston was missing Jason Varitek (who's having a down year, anyway), and Manny Ramirez was limited to one pinch-hit appearance, but it's not often that you can gift-wrap three runs for the opposition and still come out with a victory.

Only two of those runs were unearned, which now has the Angels up to allowing 75 unearned runs this season, which, as I'm sure you know, is the most in the majors. The average AL team has allowed 47 unearned runs (you can see team listings here) -- that's 28 more runs than average, close to three-wins worth.

As we're four games out of first place, this is obviously a source of concern, and an odd one, as our defense is usually pretty good. Looking at the Hardball Times numbers I link above, we learn that our team has committed 33 throwing errors, which 7th in the league (the AL average is 32) and 61 fielding errors, which is the most in the league (the average is 42).

That indicates to me that there are issues of concentration at hand; players are getting to balls, but blundering when it comes time to catch them. We have seen this frequently with Vlad, and we witnessed it last night with Chone Figgins, who just up and dropped a ball with two outs, giving the BoSox two runs and a temporary lead.

I don't know what the correction for this is, other than our players just stop being stupid. Our defensive efficienaly -- turning batted balls into outs -- is actually quite solid, ranking fourth in the league and ninth in baseball. As a whole, I think this is a good defensive team, at least in terms of talent. But they need to cut out the stupid, otherwise they're just going to make everything hard for themselves in coming back in this division.

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