Who Will Bat 2nd For The Los Angeles Angels in 2013?
Fans of the Los Angeles Angels have to be pinching themselves as the 2013 season quickly approaches. Not only did their ball-club make a dramatic splash in free agency by luring Josh Hamilton to Anaheim, they took him from Texas. There is seemingly no downside when you can make your own team better while taking away from your biggest competition. To make it even sweeter for Angels fans, the Rangers didn’t make any significant moves to improve themselves.
With last season’s surprise signing of Albert Pujols, the emergence of Mike Trout as an instant superstar, and the development of local Southern California product Mark Trumbo, the Angels now have what appears to be the most formidable lineup in Major League Baseball. Angels GM Jerry Dipoto and the entire front office deserve a lot of credit for being bold enough to make the biggest splash two years in a row. Speaking of bold, the purpose of writing this is to make the case that Josh Hamilton could hit 2nd in the lineup after Trout and before Pujols.
I’m sure Angel’s fans collectively are shaking their heads as they read this but hear me out. Hitting Trout, Hamilton, and then Pujols, works on many different levels. First, by doing so, the best three hitters in the lineup get the best shot at having the most at-bats every single game. All three of these guys are in scoring position as they stand at the plate so it makes sense to get them there more often. Who wouldn’t want Hamilton to have an extra AB over a Howie Kendrick or Trumbo hitting in that spot?
One of the first things a starting pitcher would tell you that are important to them is getting off to a good start so that they can settle in. Pitchers are guaranteed to face at least the opposing team’s best hitter in the first inning even with a perfect inning. I can’t imagine it would be fun to face a team’s three best hitters consecutively to start a game. Good luck having a good start against Trout, Hamilton, and Pujols. Now I know some (maybe most) are thinking as they read this that the rest of the line-up would be a little weak by this move. The rest of the line-up would be just fine after the big three.
Trumbo would be a very capable clean-up hitter after slugging 32 homers and knocking in 95 runs. Nearly 40% of his power numbers came from the clean-up spot and with men on base last year Trumbo hit .290 with 14 homers and 77 RBI. With the big three in front of him more often than not there will be somebody on base. So with Trumbo hitting clean-up that would leave Kendrick, Chris Iannetta, Erick Aybar, and either Peter Bourjos or Vernon Wells. Personally, I believe Bourjos gets more playing time based on defense and needs in the lineup. With Aybar and Bourjos at the bottom of the order it gives the Angels lead-off hitters in front of the big three when the line-up turns over. With either Aybar or Bourjos on base it would be a tall order to stare down Trout, Hamilton, Pujols, and Trumbo.
Lastly, by putting the three best hitters on the team one after the other, it gives the Angels a righty, lefty, righty combo which is tough to strategize your bullpen around. That would be much like the team across town uses Matt Kemp, Adrian Gonzalez, Hanley Ramirez, and Andre Ethier. Do I really believe hitting Hamilton would be best used by hitting 2nd? The baseball fan inside me, full of tradition and history, says no. My inner Joe Maddon, however, says it would be fun to watch.
Smart money says when Manager Mike Scioscia makes out his lineup card Trout will lead-off Pujols will hit third, and Hamilton will hit clean-up So who bats 2nd Angels fans? Trumbo, allowing the Angels to keep the first four hitters in the line-up with 30 plus home run power? Kendrick, who has pop but hits for higher average than Trumbo? Or do you let a guy like Aybar hit there, who has speed and more of a contact hitter? These questions will be answered in the coming weeks.
I would love to hear your opinion so come find me on twitter (@Rcpwalton) and let’s figure it out together.