2009 ALDS Preview: The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim


Now that we’ve clinched our playoff berth as the AL wild card, it’s time to scout our competition. First up, the LAAoA. If that ain’t a mouthful. The Red Sox have owned them in the postseason, but they are not as weak as they were last year. Here’s a quick look at how we stack up side by side.

Offense

The Angels lost Mark Teixeira, but they added Torii Hunter and Bobby Abreu in 2009. Not only that, but they got a breakout season from Kendry Morales, who was beginning to look like a flop. Here’s how our top 10 hitters stack up in terms of wOBA:

Red Sox     Pos   wOBA    Angels        Pos   wOBA 
K Youkilis  1B/3B 0.413   K Morales     1B    0.381 
J Bay       LF    0.398   T Hunter      CF    0.378
V Martinez  C/1B  0.395   B Abreu       RF    0.371
JD Drew     LF    0.383   C Figgins     3B    0.361
D Pedroia   2B    0.357   M Napoli      C     0.354
J Ellsbury  CF    0.353   M Izturis     SS/2B 0.348
M Lowell    3B    0.346   H Kendrick    2B    0.348
D Ortiz     DH    0.340   J Rivera      OF    0.345
A Gonzalez  SS    0.331   V Guerrero    DH    0.342
R Baldelli  OF    0.330   G Matthews Jr OF    0.315

So even though the Angels scored more runs this season (869 to 843), sabermetrics tells us that the Sox are the better offensive team. Their best hitter, Morales, would be the 5th best hitter in our lineup. But it's important to note that the Halos have actually outscored the Yankees in the second half, and lead the AL with 408 runs scored since the ASB. The Angels pretty consistently outperform their sabermetric evaluations, and Vladimir Guerrero is just beginning to get healthy, so I hesitate to give Boston a huge edge here. Let's say this is a small edge for the good guys.

Rotation

The Angels have good depth in their top 4 starters, and their three and four guys have a history of success against Boston. However, the Sox have two starters who are better than their number one, John Lackey.

Red Sox      FIP    Angels      FIP
J Lester     3.15   J Lackey    3.73
J Beckett    3.65   J Weaver    4.05
C Buchholz   4.67   S Kazmir    4.33
D Matsuzaka  5.09   J Saunders  5.23
T Wakefield  4.58   M Palmer    4.76

Daisuke Matsuzaka's number is a product of small sample size, and he's been much better since returning to the team in September. In the second half , the Angels' starters have been impressive, going 33-19 with a 4.26 ERA, while Boston's pitchers have struggled with injuries and posted a 4.82 ERA. Looking at just the top four for each team, Lackey (3.05 ERA) and Scott Kazmir (2.01 ERA) have been strong, while Jered Weaver (4.47 ERA) and Joe Saunders (4.59 ERA) have been rather mediocre. On Boston's side, Jon Lester (2.82 ERA) has been the ace, Matsuzaka (2.22 ERA) looks good, with Clay Buchholz (3.74 ERA) and Josh Beckett (4.38 ERA) not too far behind.

Bullpen

The Red Sox have the deepest bullpen in baseball, and Jonathan Papelbon is the owner of a 1.64 ERA and .177 opponents' average (.498 OPS) since August 1, despite a shaky start to the season. On the other hand, Boston relievers were tied for 9th in the AL with a 4.30 ERA in the second half of this season. The Angels bullpen came up big in the latter half of 2009, posting a 3.90 ERA, tied for 4th best in the AL. So there are some questions on both sides.

Red Sox     FIP    Angels      FIP
B Wagner    2.59   K Jepsen    2.89
J Papelbon  3.05   D Oliver    3.38
D Bard      3.45   J Bulger    3.85
H Okajima   4.20   J Arredondo 4.28
T Saito     4.25   B Fuentes   4.39
R Ramirez   4.51   S Loux      4.52
M Delcarmen 4.62   S Shields   5.02

The Sox top 3 relievers trump the Halos' top 3, and if Mike Scioscia continues to use Brain Fuentes in the closer role, Los Angeles will be at a disadvantage in this department.

Defense

The normally steady Red Sox do seem to have recovered somewhat after a miserable start in the field this season. UZR has them below average defensively as a team at -18.1 runs. Dustin Pedroia and J.D. Drew lead the UZR list, but Mike Lowell, Jason Bay and Jacoby Ellsbury are really, really bad according to UZR. With Alex Gonzalez uncertain, shortstop could also become an issue, should Jed Lowrie not be able to go on a regular basis. The Angels, on the other hand, are +10 runs on the year and have shown good team defense, led by strong performances by Chone Figgins and Juan Rivera. Bobby Abreu and Gary Matthews Jr. have the only stone hands in this group.

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4 Responses to 2009 ALDS Preview: The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

  1. Pat says:

    There’s one important factor that also needs to be pointed out. The Red Sox seem to be very poor at preventing stolen bases right now. A lot of teams seem to run wild on us, and it could be huge in these close games.

  2. redsoxtalk says:

    You’re definitely right about the stolen bases, and the Angels were 3rd in the AL in steals this year. However, they seem to get a little overzealous on the basepaths when they play us, and it’s benefitted us in the past. The failed squeeze bunt this year comes to mind, as well as a couple of baserunning miscues from last year’s ALDS.

  3. Pat says:

    I fondly remember Vlad trying to get to third from first on a single that fell right behind Youk.

    I feel like this series could make it to 5 games.

  4. Pingback: 2009 Red Sox: RIP « Red Sox Talk

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