Angels Offense Rolling Lately Despite Vlad’s Absence

torii walkoffWho would have thought that the Angels lineup would be producing more runs without their most prolific run-producer of the past 5 seasons?

The man I’m referring to of course would be “The Big Daddy”, Vladimir Guerrero.

Since coming to Anaheim in 2004 as a free agent, Guerrero has done nothing more than tear it up with the bat on a game-by-game basis.

He won the American League MVP award back in 2004, his first year as a Halo, when he single-handedly put the team on his back and carried them into the postseason, only to get rocked by the BoSox.

Here’s his stat lines from the past 5 years, to understand the high-caliber hitter that the lineup is missing:

2004 (156 games): .337 avg./206 hits/39 doubles/39 home runs/126 RBI/124 runs scored

2005 (141 games): .317 avg./165 hits/29 doubles/32 home runs/108 RBI/95 runs scored

2006 (156 games): .329 avg./200 hits/34 doubles/33 home runs/116 RBI/92 runs scored

2007 (150 games): .324 avg./186 hits/45 doubles/27 home runs/125 RBI/89 runs scored

2008 (143 games): .303 avg./164 hits/31 doubles/27 home runs/91 RBI/85 runs scored

Let’s compute that out to an average Vlad-in-an-Angel-uniform year:

“Typical year” (149 games): .323 avg./184 hits/36 doubles/32 home runs/113 RBI/97 runs scored.

Your offense should be anemic if you’re missing a hitter like this in the lineup, right? I mean this is a guy who’s been consistently .300+ batting average, over 30 doubles, around 30 home runs, and more than 100 RBI per year over his entire MLB career. The normally weak and sometimes pathetic Angels offense should probably be tanking, putting up maybe 2 to 3 runs per contest right?

Well, of lately, that hasn’t exactly been the case, to the delight of Angel fans, myself included.

The Angels have put up 8 or more runs on the board 4 times in the past 5 games, a feat that only happened once in the previous 13 games (plenty of which featured Guerrero with his torn pectoral muscle in the lineup).

I think you have to look at two guys in particular who have been consistent all year: free agent pick-up Bobby Abreu and 2nd-year Angel center fielder Torii Hunter.

Abreu has been hot, batting .381 (8-for-21) with 2 doubles and 5 RBI. He’s been getting on base with great regularity all season, and is a perfect 8-for-8 on stolen base attempts. Once Guerrero gets back and starts swinging the bat to the level that baseball fans are accustomed to seeing from the free-swinger, Abreu is the ideal #3 hitter that Mike Scioscia has been looking for since 2004.

Hunter has been even hotter, batting .391 in the last 5 games (9-for-23), with two doubles, 2 home runs, and 4 RBI. Hunter also leads the team with 7 home runs in the 18 games he’s played in (19 officially but he got ejected in a game a while back in the 1st inning, so he didn’t even have an AB), after he put up 21 home runs throughout all of last season (146 games played).

The Angels are also getting sporadic sparks from different players, like Kendry Morales who exploded on April 22nd against the Tigers by going 2-for-5 with a 3-run home run and a 2-run double, giving him 5 RBI on the night.

Even a slumping Howie Kendrick was able to produce in the Angels’ final game of a home series against the Mariners, as Kendrick went 3-for-5 with 4 RBI. Kendrick knocked a 2-run home run, and had two run-scoring singles en route to a 8-0 thrashing of Seattle.

As much as the big run totals are a breath of fresh air for me, the consistency is not there with the exceptions of Abreu and Hunter. Morales has been a bit off (.266). Kendrick (.258) had been in a slump since the end of Opening Day. Neither Mathis (.227) nor Napoli (.237) can get consistent at-bats. Figgins hasn’t been able to get the bat on the ball much (.227), and Aybar (.255) hasn’t been able to get much going at the dish either.

To add to the lack of consistency, the Angels have not yet won back-to-back games, as in their longest winning streak of the year has been 1.

Three hitters are over .300 right now, in Abreu (.375), Hunter (.338), and Juan Rivera (.309). Maicer Izturis is the closest to the .300 mark at .289 and then it’s just a drop-off.

The Angels (7-11) have assured themselves of their first losing month since June of 2006 when they compiled a 12-14 mark, breaking a 15-month streak of having a winning record in the month when the calendar has to be turned.

I can’t fault the Angels, they’ve gone through more in the first 18 games of the year than some teams may go through in a year. Missing 2 All-Star pitchers in John Lackey and Ervin Santana, having your franchise slugger go on the DL for a month in Vladdy Guerrero, losing 2 more pitchers during the season in Dustin Moseley and Darren Oliver, as well as the shocking death of the young and promising pitching prospect Nick Adenhart.

They’ve had their fair share of adversity, and I’m beginning to feel confident that they will overcome all the obstacles that they’ve been dealt in this young season.

I’m learning to keep the faith in this team after feeling hopeless for a majority of the month of April, because things will turn around. It can only go up from here.

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