Purgatory Online

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Okay, time to get back to this nonsense.

Now that the Angels have seemingly completed their off-season moves (with the piddling exception of signing or offering arbitration to a few guys, which should be pro forma (Update: indeed)), we can look at how the 2005 edition is shaping up. Let's start with the offense.

Here, in a nutshell, is what we've lost:

565 AB, .294/.352/.497

207 AB, .251/.355/.575

566 AB, .276/.339/.332

Averaged out (and weighted for ABs), from those three individuals the Angels got .280/.347/.439 in 2004. As a team, Anaheim's line was .282/.341/.429, so losing those three hurts the club somewhat in OBP and SLG.

The folks coming in, meanwhile, did this:

628 AB, .271/.333/.490

618 AB, .264/.306/.383

Whoa. That's a pair of exceptionally durable guys who play good defense, but - with the exception of Finley's SLG, are actually under the team average in terms of offense. Assuming similar numbers from them in 2005 (*cough*), what would Dallas McPherson have to do to bring the new trio up to the numbers posted by Guillen, Glaus, and Eckstein in 2004?

.305/.404/.445, that's what. In 600+ ABs. In other words, our new third baseman will have to have a Rookie of the Year-type season just to get the club back to par. The good news is that the Angels have already proven that they have a replacement for Glaus capable of posting a .384/.431/.626 line, at least over 99 ABs. The bad news is that his name is Robb Quinlan.

Or, we could look at the 2004 numbers this way:

3B production: .297/.355/.478

SS production: .273/.334/.337

LF production: .291/.356/.481

Average (non-weighted by AB): .287/.348/.432.

That's not much more hopeful - in fact, it may be worse. McP could slack off a point or two on slugging, but would have to ratchet up that average by another 21 points.

The wildcard is going to be the DH position. The Angels got .240/.323/.401 from the DH slot last year, an anemic line that will have to be improved in 2005 if the Angels want any shot at the kind of overall offensive production they enjoyed last year. Entering spring training, the contenders for DH time include Quinlan, Jeff DaVanon, Cuban defector Kendry Morales, Casey Kotchman, and Juan Rivera. Even improving to the league median would boost the Angels' DH line to somewhere around .255/.345/.440. Were that to happen, we'd be looking at this:

2004 production from DH, 3B, SS, LF: .275/.342/.424
2005 production from DH, SS, CF: .263/.328/.438

Okay, now we're getting somewhere. At this point, McPherson's contribution would have to be .311/.384/.382 to get things back to even.

Is that realistic? Well, obviously the slugging should be a gimme. Last year, among the seven American League third basemen who finished with enough plate appearances to qualify for a batting title, only Eric Hinske of the Blue Jays had a slugging average under .382. But then again, of those seven, only Baltimore's Melvin Mora had a batting average higher than .286. In all probability, McPherson isn't going to come close to .311; realistically I suspect the Angels would be thrilled if he hit .280.

What about OBP? .384 would have placed third among qualifying third basemen in 2004, right between Eric Chavez (.395) and Alex Rodriguez (.375). That seems a little more doable than a .311 batting average, but not much.

Of course, it's possible that the Angels could get increased offensive production from other places. Garret Anderson could bounce back and put up a .301/.345/.500 year for a full season; Bengie Molina could drop 40 pounds and go .280/.320/.410. But let's also remember that Vlad Guerrero had an MVP-caliber season in 2004, and the possibility of increased production from Anderson and Molina has to be balanced by the possiblity of a slight regression by Vlad.

Ultimately, therefore, I think the Angels' offensive fortunes are going to depend heavily on the contributions they can get from third base and DH. They must get a solid year out of McPherson (or Quinlan, or whomever comes out of spring training with the job), and they must significantly improve at DH.