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The Angels, Defense, and Clutch Hitting

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"Their achilles heel has been getting the big hit in big situations."

This phrase has been espoused by announcers on TBS several times over the course of the Red Sox/Angels series. And it is simply untrue. With no one on base, the Angels hit .268/.330/.413, good for a .738 OPS, which was 18th in baseball. However, with runners in scoring position, the Angels hit ..279/.357/.418, good for a .775 OPS, which was 12th in baseball.

Their .279 BA with RISP was 6th highest in baseball. They hit 11 points higher with RISP than overall - this was tied for the seventh best difference in baseball. In other words, the Angels were the seventh best team in baseball with RISP, relative to their overall production.

Yes, the Angels struggled with runners in scoring position in this series. But during the regular season, they were one of the best teams with runners in scoring position.

Getting the "big hit" was NOT their achilles heel.


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In the top of the fifth last night, with Erick Aybar on first, Chone Figgins singled into right field. Aybar must have forgotten what team he played for, as he stopped at second base. Despite being known as a team that goes first-to-third, the Angels are simply not that team.

In the bottom of that inning, with Jason Varitek up to bat, Mark Kotsay went first-to-third on a single. The next batter, Jacoby Ellsbury, hit a slow roller to second, and Kotsay scored. The Red Sox went first-to-third, the Angels didn't.

The Angels are also known for their defense. In this series, however, there were many instances when their defense let them down - Ellsbury's pop-up that fell for a three-run single; a fly ball off the glove of Garret Anderson leading to a run; Howie Kendrick not handling a groundball cleanly; Reggie Willits diving in the ninth inning, when playing the ball on a bounce would've held the runner to a single. Many of these miscues weren't scored as errors - furhter evidence (as if we needed any) of the flaw of the error statistic. Meanwhile, in the course of one inning in game four, Mark Kotsay made a fantastic catch on a popup, and then Kevin Youkilis made a great play on a slow roller to third. Dustin Pedroia has fantastic range at second, and the Red Sox's outfield defense is superb. The Angels are known for their defense, but really, the Red Sox should be.

Someday, I hope, we will have announcers and other media members who use facts, rather than cliches and perceptions.