Looking At What Exactly is Angels Baseball

If you read quotes from members of the Angels Organization or listened to any talk radio show on mainstream media stations today, then you heard the words "wish they played" or "got away from" followed by "Angels baseball." Apparently, the Yankees didn't win the ALCS as much as the Angels lost it by not playing "Angels baseball."

From what I can gather, Angels baseball is a lot like "Twins baseball"; doing the "little things," being "clutch," and of course playing solid defense. Defense was something the Angels didn't do well in this series, but it was something they did fairly well all season with a team UZR of 11.6. The Angels are often credited with above average defense, but that's not always the case.

Sure, back when the Halos won the World Series in 2002 they were a great defensive team led by Darin Erstad's +20 defense in center field. They were also very good the following season. However, since 2003 they've only had one really stand out defense squad (2005) followed by some below average to average ones before the 2009 team.

Year

Team UZR

2009

11.6

2008

0.9

2007

-2

2006

-14.2

2005

24.5

2004

-7.3

2003

38.4

2002

41.2

This year's Angels team was led by Chone Figgans, who had a 14.5 UZR at third base. The biggest surprise was the man in second place, Juan Rivera. Despite a reputation as a poor fielder, Rivera had a 13.6 UZR in left field. One good season doesn't mean Rivera is a plus defender, but most people remember his play, or lack there of, in late September in Fenway Park, and do not realize that Rivera was a better fielder than multi-time gold glover Torii Hunter.

While his supporters will admit he has lost a step, in most circles Hunter is still seen as a good center fielder. However, that perception hasn't been true since 2003 when he posted a UZR of 13.2. Since then his UZR's have been: -0.1, 2.6, -10.9, -6.0, -11.5, -1.9, but he does make a lot of highlights.  In other news, Bobby Abreu continued to be Bobby Abreu and that means another season of near -10 defense.

No, the Angels did not play well defensively in this series, but playing defense was not the strongest suit of this Angels team nor has it been in a couple of seasons. Maybe more of the blame should be on the Angels .346 wOBA offense that averaged 5.45 runs a game in the regular season, but just over three runs a game in the ALCS. Or maybe the Yankees, who were the best team in the regular season, just happened to continue being the best team in the ALCS.

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