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What About Bob?

Move past the .188 career batting average.

Don’t look too deeply into the sub-.270 career on-base percentage.

Disregard the fact that the guy has driven in exactly a handful of runs in 31 career games.

Statistics don’t do justice to what Bobby Wilson brings to the Angels.

Bobby Wilson is a winner.

Bobby’s been another one of Mike Scioscia’s interchangeable parts of late with the slew of injuries that have plagued the Angels. As of a few days ago, the Angels were missing 4 of their Opening Day starters due to injuries (1B Kendry Morales-broken leg, SS Erick Aybar-meniscus damage, C Jeff Mathis-broken wrist, 3B Brandon Wood- uh… does he even count?) as well as the Angels’ most versatile position player in Maicer Izturis.

The Angels’ day-to-day lineup card has been a jigsaw puzzle in motion ever since Kendry went down on May 29th, and with Jeff Mathis out and being down a first baseman in Morales, it forced Scioscia to put players in unfamiliar spots. The prime example has to be Mike Napoli, a catcher by trade who has been playing first base for Mike Scioscia of late, and has performed admirably. That left a catching vacancy at times, paving the way for Bobby Wilson to get his shot.

Wilson, a product of Dunedin, Florida was drafted in the 48th round of the 2002 Amateur Draft by the Angels and got his first taste of the big leagues when he made his debut on April 28th, 2008, and got a hit in his first professional at-bat as a pinch-hitter (the Angels got blown out 14-2 by the Oakland A’s that day).

Playing through nearly 650 minor league games from 2003-2010, Bobby Wilson had hit at a respectable .284 clip working his way through the minor league ranks, and actually had his highest batting average in AAA ball, hitting .291 in 212 games for the Salt Lake Bees.

Through 2008 and 2009, Wilson had only registered 11 major league at-bats to his name, seeing limited duty in his time in the bigs. Jeff Mathis and Mike Napoli were platooning behind home plate, and Ryan Budde was even in the catching mix, leaving not much of a spot for Wilson.

The early part of 2010 would prove to be a different story. If in the previous 2 seasons it seemed like the Angels had no need for Bobby Wilson, this year would be a complete 180 from that statement.

The 28-year-old Wilson has played a vital role in the Angels winning 15 of the 20 games since Kendry Morales went down with a fluke season-ending leg injury.

In the 11 starts Wilson has made this season, the Angels have gone 10-1.

In his last 7 starts, the opposing team has scored more than 2 runs on the Angels only once, with the Angels having a fantastic team ERA of 2.14 during those starts. Subtracting a performance where Angel pitching allowed 6 runs to the Oakland A’s, the team ERA of those games is a ridiculous 1.50.

Wilson makes starting pitchers better, there has been no disputing that.

Outside of one poor outing by Joe Saunders (4.1 innings, 7 earned runs), starting pitchers have gone 63 innings in Bobby’s 10 other starts with a combined ERA of 2.00 in those starts. Starters have given up 14 runs in those 63 innings, 8 of those given up by Ervin Santana.

Jered Weaver has gone 14 innings in his 2 starts with Wilson behind the dish, striking out 17 batters, and allowing only 5 hits. Furthermore, Weaver is yet to have an earned run charged to his name when he’s tossing to Wilson. He outduled last year’s Cy Young runner-up Felix Hernandez in one start and Ted Lilly in his first start following a near no-hitter of the White Sox in the other.

Scott Kazmir has worked with Bobby on three occasions, going 17 innings and giving up 4 runs in that span. Kazmir won each of those 3 starts, with an ERA of 2.11 in those outings. In all of his other outings this year, Kazmir has gone 4-5 with a fat ERA of 6.03.

Joel Pineiro put forth one of his better efforts of the year in his one start with Bobby Wilson, throwing 8 innings of 3-hit, 1-run ball. Pineiro held down a Milwaukee Brewers offense who exploded for 19 runs against the Angels in the previous two games, and also currently have the 2nd most home runs (82) and are only 15 runs back of first place for most runs scored as a team in the National League.

Whatever Bobby’s been doing, it’s been working.

Even though he’s taken his lumps at the plate (.189 batting average this year) and blocking the plate (check out the video below in case you haven’t seen it), Bobby has brought the most important statistic to the Angels: wins.

(On a side note, this was probably the roughest home-plate collision baseball had seen since ex-Angel Darin Erstad slammed into Johnny Estrada back in 2005.)

So next time you want to see how Bobby Wilson did in his most recent game, don’t look for his name in the box score.

If you look for his name you might find an “0-for-3” or “0-for-4 with a strikeout” performance. That’s not what Bobby Wilson brings.

Instead, look at how the starting pitcher did. Did he get the win? How many innings did he go? How many runs did he allow? How many hits did he allow?

That’s where you’ll find the true value of Bobby Wilson.

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4/11-Angels Late Rally Falls Short, Red Sox Take Game 2

lowell and bayOn the Angels’ first day game this year, the balls were flying out of the Big A by players on both sides. The Red Sox, however, would get the better of the Halos today, coming out on top by a score of 5-4, evening the series to 1 win apiece.

Brad Penny, in his first start as a member of the Red Sox, would be credited with the win after going 6 innings, giving up 3 runs, 2 walks, 2 punchouts, while scattering 7 hits.

Joe Saunders would get his first loss of the year, giving him a 1-1 record in the early goings of this year. Saunders went 7 innings, giving up 4 runs, walking 3, striking out 2, and allowing 7 hits.

The Halos would start the top of the 9th down 2 runs, but Torii Hunter would cut the lead in half to start the inning off with a solo jack to center. Kendry Morales would follow that up with a double of his own, and then be replaced on the basepaths by speedster Reggie Willits. Willits was just called up to “fill” the spot of the recently-passed Nick Adenhart. “I don’t feel like I’m replacing him. I don’t think anybody’s ever going to replace him,” Willits said. The Halos would threaten with the bases loaded with 2 outs and Howie Kendrick at the dish. After fouling off 7 straight Jonathan Papelbon offerings, Howie would fly out to right to end the game, with the Halos on the wrong end. The Angels drop to 2-3 on the season.

Scoring Recap

1st inning- After Chone Figgins would walk and steal 2nd, Howie Kendrick would knock a grounder to 2nd base, enabling Figgy to advance to 3rd with 1 out. Bobby Abreu would come up and bring in Figgins with an RBI groundout to 2nd baseman Dustin Pedroia to put the Angels on the board first, 1-0. The Angels have scored first in each of the 5 games they’ve played this season.

3rd inning- Mike Napoli would step up for his first at-bat of the game, and do what he did last year, jack deep bombs out of the Big A. Nap would nail a solo homer to straightaway center to put the Angels up 2-0.

5th inning- Following a walk to Jason Bay, Red Sox 3rd baseman Mike Lowell would hit a game-tying 2-run home run off of Joe Saunders up and over the left field wall. The 2-run blast marks Lowell’s first home run on the year. It’s a tie ballgame now, 2-2.

5th inning- Napoli felt like undoing what Lowell had done with another deep blast of his own. Nap would jack his 2nd homer of the day, another solo shot, giving the Angels a 1-run advantage by the score of 3-2.

7th inning- Immediately following up a Rocco Baldelli infield single, Jason Bay would hit a 2-run home run to left, putting the Red Sox back on top 4-3.

9th inning- To give the BoSox a little 9th inning cushion, Jason Bay would hit his 2nd home run of the day, a solo blast this time, pushing the Boston advantage to 2 runs, the score being 5-3.

Torii Hunter would step up for the Halos in their final at-bat of the day, and cut the lead in half with one swing of the bat. Hunter would homer to center field to make the game 5-4 in Boston’s favor. The Angels would load the bases with 2 outs, but Jonathan Papelbon would be able to close the door on the Halos and secure the Red Sox of the victory.

Player-by-Player Recap

1- 3B Chone Figgins – 1-3, 0 RBI, 1 2B, 1 R, 1 K, 2 BB, 1 SB, 1 LOB

Figgins would draw a walk to load the bases for Howie Kendrick with 2 outs, but HK47 couldn’t quite cash in. Figgy got another stolen base today, his 4th on the year in 4 attempts and has done a decent job of setting the table for the Halos this year. It’s good to see Mike Scioscia giving him the green light on the basepaths, because the way that the hitters have been hitting in the early going, they’re gonna need any extra base they can get.

2- 2B Howie Kendrick – 1-5, 0 RBI, 0 R, 0 K, 0 BB, 5 LOB

It seems that Howie Kendrick and 1-5 go hand-in-hand night after night. Howie has gone 1-5 for the past 3 games now, with 2 runs batted in. He came up in the 9th with swans on a lake and 2 out, but couldn’t come up with the big hit for the Halos. That’s been Howie’s bugaboo, hitting on the big stage. He hasn’t produced in his playoff appearances, and just seems to freeze up when the pressure’s on. Will he ever get rid of the big moment jitters?

3- RF Bobby Abreu – 0-3, 1 RBI, 0 R, 0 K, 1 BB, 1 LOB

Abreu would again find a way to manufacture another run, giving him 4 RBI in his first 5 games as a Halo. He has played solid defense in the field as well, and is batting an even .300 to start the season, good enough for 2nd best among Halos who have started all 5 games (Kendry Morales is #1 batting .368).

4- DH Vladimir Guerrero – 0-4, 0 RBI, 0 R, 0 K, 0 BB, 2 LOB

The Halos got a big ol’ bagel out of Vladdy G today. The Angels’ 3 and 4 men would go a combined 0-7 today, and in any game, that’s not exactly what you want out of your better hitters. Vladdy is nearing a return to the outfield after straining a pectoral muscle which hasn’t allowed him to throw comfortably this season. Maybe a little outfield action will let Vlad get some game-to-game consistency at the dish.

5- CF Torii Hunter – 1-4, 1 RBI, 1 R, 1 HR, 1 K, 0 BB, 0 LOB

Torii got the Halos off and running in the 9th with his first home run of the year, but it’s too bad they couldn’t follow his lead. He came through when he needed them to, but didn’t do much in his previous 3 at-bats. Hunter is at a .222 average to start the season.

6- 1B Kendry Morales – 2-4, 0 RBI, 0 R, 1 2B, 1 K, 0 BB, 0 LOB

One of two Halos with multiple hits today, Kendry followed up Torii’s homer with a nice double, giving Angel fans hope of a comeback victory, only to have their hopes dashed at the end of it all. This is Kendry’s 3rd multi-hit game in 5 contests this year, and has the highest batting average of Angel starters with a .368 average.

7- LF Juan Rivera – 0-4, 0 RBI, 0 R, 0 K, 0 BB, 2 LOB

Not much popping off for Juanito today, after he got the day off by Mike Scioscia yesterday. However, Juan was 1 of 4 Angels to put up 0-fers in the hit column tonight.

8- C Mike Napoli – 3-3, 2 RBI, 2 R, 2 HR, 1 2B, 0 K, 1 BB, 0 LOB

Mike Scioscia got a huge game offensively out of Nap, as well as the first multi-homer game for a Halo this year. All 3 of his hits went for extra bases, but the Halos have come on the losing end of both games where Napoli starts. I have to give credit where credit is due, and Napoli was the reason that the Angels stayed in this game.

9- SS Erick Aybar – 0-4, 0 RBI, 0 R, 1 K, 0 BB, 3 LOB

Erick’s been struggling with the bat in the early goings, hitting .083 (1 for his first 12). If he continues to struggle for the next game or two, I’d think it’s about time for Mike Scioscia to give Mighty Maicer a shot. Hopefully the Halos will be able to get some production out of their shortstop spot, and the way that production starts is with Maicer Izturis, in my opinion.

Tonight’s MVP

Mike Napoli

Pretty obvious choice here. Nap reached base in all 4 of his plate appearances, hitting 2 towering home runs, lacing a double, and also drawing a walk. Unfortunately for Nap, he was the MVP in a losing effort. Nap has impressed with the bat in his two starts, but have also been unable to win either of his two starts. Nonetheless, it was Nap Time at the Big A on Saturday.

Halo of the Game Review and Pick

4/11 Halo of the Game Pick: Kendry Morales

Stat Line: 2-4, 0 RBI, 0 R, 1 2B, 1 K, 0 BB, 0 LOB

KMo put forth a solid effort today, going 2-for-4, and did his best to even the score in the bottom of the 9th with a clutch effort, only to have the team come up short. Kendry had his 3rd multi-hit game in 5 starts and I’ve been impressed with the way he’s been swinging the bat early on.

Current Halo of the Game Hit Streak: 5

Halo of the Game Season Hitting Statistics:

.350 avg. (7-20), 1 HR, 3 RBI, 3 R, 2 2B, 0 3B, 4 K, 2 BB, 1 SB

Tomorrow’s Halo of the Game Pick: Bobby Abreu

Tomorrow’s Probables

Red Sox: Josh Beckett. Beckett struck out 10 batters in his first start of the season, going 7 innings and giving up only 2 hits and 1 run, earning the win. Beckett had gone 48-28 in his first 3 years as a member of the Boston Red Sox, and was the 2003 World Series MVP for the Florida Marlins when they topped the New York Yankees.

Angels: Dustin Moseley. Moseley went 6 innings in his first outing against the A’s, allowing 3 runs on 9 hits, while striking out 4 batters. Moseley stepped into the season as the Halos’ #2 starter thanks to injuries to John Lackey, Ervin Santana and Kelvim Escobar. Moseley is going to have to bring his A-game to go pitch-for-pitch with an ace like Beckett.

Tomorrow’s game against the Red Sox is scheduled for 12:35 Pacific time.

Go Halos!

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