Angels Still Struggling for Production from Second Base.

Updated: May 7, 2017

We know the Angels had a bad time of it last year, particularly in their pitching staff. They also received no production from second base, left field, and catcher. The fact that the Halos still fielded a league average is mostly a testament to just how good Mike Trout is, as he pretty much single-handedly dragged a subpar lineup to respectability. Billy Eppler and company decided those positions needed to be upgraded. They also decided they wanted to stay flexible for stronger free agent classes upcoming, so they added on the cheap. They could have added anybody and they would have been improvements on what the had last year.

So in came Cameron Maybin and Ben Revere to shore up left field. Martin Maldonado was brought in to add more defensive value at the catcher position. Danny Espinosa was brought in to take over second base. All had for little resources and all for only one year, upgrading the positions in the short term while maintaining future flexibility. After starting slow, Maybin is starting to come around a bit, and both he and Revere are still extreme improvements defensively. Maldonado is hitting a surprise .268 while bringing a rocket arm and solid pitch framing. Espinosa, though, is struggling severely and is losing playing time to Cliff Pennington.

Espinosa has been worth -0.7 WAR this season, meaning he’s basically cost the Angels a win. Believe it or not, Johnny Giavotella was actually worth 0.4 WAR last season, meaning he added a half a win to the Angels. I know, it’s not good, and Espinosa still has time to add to his WAR total, but he’s off to an awful start. He’s slashing a pathetic .150/.218/.270 and has struck out thirty-nine times in 110 plate appearances. He’s struck out almost half the time he’s been to the plate, and he’s only walked six times. He has more strikeouts than total bases (he has twenty-seven total bases.) In case you weren’t sure, that’s really bad.

Espinosa still has time to turn it around to degree. Expecting much more than what he’s done, though, is just setting yourself up for disappointment. He strikes out a lot and he just doesn’t get on base. Any value he might bring is going to be derived from his defense and his power. His defense has been just average, but his power just hasn’t been there. His last home run came on April thirteenth. Since then, he’s seven for sixty-five with twenty-six strike outs, good for a .108/.194/.154 slash line. You’ve got to be real bad to lose playing time to Cliff Pennington, and Espinosa’s certainly been that. If the Angels want to contend, they’re going to need to get more production from second base, whoever it is. Espinosa may be running out of time to be the guy to provide it.

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