Saturday, October 13, 2007

Why the Angels' Offense Lacks...

I'm watching Game 2 of the American League Championship Series between the Indians and Red Sox, and I've noticed something that helps explain why the Angels did not (and will not) make it back there as presently constructed: they lack firepower to consistently punish mistake pitches.

In Game 3 of the ALDS, the Angels' offense made Curt Schilling look like he was 25 again. He threw 100 pitches, an amazing 76 for strikes. That should be expected, since his regular season K/BB was 4.39, 5th best in baseball among pitchers with at least 150 innings pitched. (That figure was also lower that it could have been, since Schilling struck out batters at a near career worst rate.)

The Angels knew that they had to come out swinging, because Schilling would be around that zone. Even knowing they would get pitches to hit, the Angels mustered only 6 hits (1 extra-base hit) and no runs.

Schilling himself said, "Early in the game, I made a lot of mistakes command-wise, and fortunately, they took [those pitches] or they fouled [them] off, and then I thought we really got sharper as the game went on."

The Angels' lineup lacks on so many levels that it's amazing they were able to finish with such a good record (94-68). They don't drive the ball, finishing 17th in slugging % at an anemic .417, just above the Astros and Orioles. They did finish with a nice team batting average of .285, but batting average is a statistic that's subject to a lot of luck, among other things. (Batting average also correlates less well with runs and wins that OBP and OPS).

Their reliance on hitting their way on base helps explain why they could go out and score 18 runs one game (9/12/07 vs. Baltimore) and then follow that up with no runs (3-0 loss on 9/13/07). It's time to get serious about reworking this offense to hang with the big boys, the Yankees, Red Sox, Indians, and Tigers. As is, singles, bunts, and sacrifice flies just don't get it done consistently.

I'll do a more in-depth analysis on the Angels' offense in the coming days, but for the moment I will just say that Schilling is already out of the game, having gone 4 2/3, giving up 5 runs on 9 hits, allowing 2 home runs in the process. He threw 85 pitches, 58 for strikes, and did not walk a batter. The Indians knew what was coming, and they were ready with the thunder...

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