Los Angeles Angels: Player Grades for Month of July
In the grand scheme of the 2013 baseball season, July was pivotal for the Los Angeles Angels. Upon entering the month, the team was riding a seven-game winning streak and for all intents and purposes appeared to be turning its season around.
Fast forward 31 days, when the Angels found themselves as sellers heading toward the July 31 trade deadline—the result of a 9-15 record in the month of July and a season-high 14-game AL West deficit.
While injuries played a part in the team's overall performance, poor on-field play and blown leads are primarily to blame for the Angels' summer free fall. The following slideshow reveals player grades for the month of July.
*All statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com (unless otherwise noted) and are current through July 31.
Erick Aybar: C+
|Year to Date||327||91||38||4||38||14||6||.278|
Analysis: With 11 hits in the first nine games of the month (.333 avg), Erick Aybar had his season batting average up to .290 and his on-base percentage up to .308. But a .188 average over the last 10 games has brought his July average back down to .262.
With Mike Trout, Albert Pujols, Josh Hamilton and Mark Trumbo batting behind Aybar, the Angels would have liked to see their leadoff hitter with more than just 38 runs by the end of July.
Alberto Callaspo: B-
|Year to Date||293||74||32||5||36||33||0||.253|
Analysis: From May 15-June 15, Alberto Callaspo hit just .207, dropping his season average 51 points. However, hitting streaks of nine and 12 games since then jump-started the switch-hitting third baseman.
Although a 4-for-32 stretch in his last 10 games has brought Callaspo's average back down to .214 for the month, skipper Mike Scioscia recently praised the Angels' No. 7 hitter, per William Boor of MLB.com: "He's quietly doing what we expected. He's started swinging better from the right side. Left-handed, he's been hitting the ball to all fields."
*Update: Alberto Callaspo was traded on 7/30 to the Oakland Athletics for 2B Grant Green.
Hank Conger: C
|Year to Date||142||34||16||6||14||9||0||.239|
Analysis: When the 2013 season began, Chris Iannetta was the Angels' starting catcher. However, Iannetta has slid into a platoon role with Hank Conger over the past 36 games (each started 18).
Although Conger's July numbers are down when compared to his season tallies, skipper Mike Scioscia has been pleased with the play of the 25-year-old. When asked about the situation behind the plate, Scioscia bluntly replied, via Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com:
You can look at it two ways -- is Chris losing time or is it Hank gaining time? I think Hank has gained more playing time with the level he's played at. Chris has still gotten plenty of playing time, and he will continue to play because we're going to need him.
Collin Cowgill: A-
|Year to Date||86||20||11||3||10||3||0||.233|
Analysis: The Angels acquired minor league outfielder Collin Cowgill from the Mets on June 26. He was called up to the Angels' major league roster a week later when Peter Boujous landed on the disabled list with a fractured right wrist.
In July, Cowgill played in 16 games for the Halos and posted a .360 average at the plate. In limited action, he has proven himself to be an above-average baserunner with a plus arm.
Chris Iannetta: F
|Year to Date||219||45||27||6||27||52||0||.205|
Analysis: Chris Iannetta's free-falling batting average and on-base percentages over the last three months have undoubtedly contributed to his loss of playing time. In May, Iannetta hit .228 with an on-base percentage of .443. In June, those numbers fell to .189/.333. They got even worse in July, as he posted an anemic .162/.311.
In addition to his offensive ineptitude, Iannetta has not been very good at stopping the running game of opposing teams. In 66 stolen base attempts, opponents were successful 60 times (a 90.9 percent success rate—the worst percentage in baseball for catchers with a minimum of 25 opportunities).
Josh Hamilton: A-
|Year to Date||380||86||51||16||50||29||3||.226|
Analysis: July was Josh Hamilton's most productive month as an Angel. He hit more than a third of his home runs (6) and nearly half of his total RBI (21) during the month.
In addition, Hamilton's two best moments as an Angel came during July. On Independence Day, he hit a dramatic game-tying home run in the ninth inning off of Cardinals ace Adam Wainwright (the Angels would go on to win the game on an Erick Aybar walk-off single).
Two nights later, he played the role of hero again—this time against the Red Sox. Atoning for a costly defensive error earlier in the game, Hamilton smacked a two-run, walk-off home run in the 11th inning.
A revealing stat: The Angels have an 11-4 record in games in which Josh Hamilton hits a home run this season. In the 91 games he failed to go deep, the team went a miserable 37-54.
Howie Kendrick: B-
|Year to Date||399||120||44||11||45||23||6||.301|
Analysis: Howie Kendrick's renaissance year (.301/.343/.444) with the Halos showed signs of slowing during the month of July. Then again, could the team realistically expect him to keep up his .356 June batting average?
Despite a down month, the Angels' middle infielder is second on the team in hits (120) and fifth on the team in home runs (11) and RBI (45).
*Update: Although rumored to be on the trading block, the Angels decided not to move Howie Kendrick at the trade deadline because they weren't able to secure the starting pitching help they were looking for.
Albert Pujols: B
|Year to Date||391||101||49||17||64||40||1||.258|
Analysis: With a partial tear of the left plantar fascia, Albert Pujols likely played his last game of the season on July 26 in Oakland. With an MRI confirming the injury a day later, the Angels placed Pujols on the disabled list for what Mike Scioscia predicted might be "a significant amount of time."
Speaking about Pujols' condition this season, Scioscia told Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com:
I don't know if I've ever seen a player that really just wants to go out there and play and wants to do everything he can 'till his last drop of his body is used up before considering going on the DL, and can really play at a high level at what is maybe 50-60 percent of his health.
According to Gonzalez, Pujols isn't expected to undergo surgery on his foot. Because the plantar fascia tore naturally, the slugger is likely to avoid an invasive procedure that would require cutting the band of connective tissue on the arch of the foot.
J.B. Shuck: A-
|Year to Date||251||72||33||1||21||15||4||.287|
Analysis: With each passing day, left-fielder J.B. Shuck appears to be making a case for Rookie of the Year honors in the American League. Although Red Sox infielder Jose Iglesias appears to be the prohibitive favorite for the award among position players, Shuck is beginning to insert himself in the conversation.
The Angels outfielder ranks first among AL rookies in doubles (13) and in hits (72). In addition, he is batting an impressive .328 against left-handed pitching and a whopping .364 with runners on base.
Mike Trout: A
|Year to Date||417||137||73||17||66||56||23||.329|
Analysis: Coming off the heels of a 4-for-4 night against the Texas Rangers, Mike Trout has successfully managed to raise his season batting average 18 points in the month of July (.311 to .329). In addition to his 33 hits, 16 runs and 14 RBI, Trout's on-base percentage during the month was a stellar .476.
The Angels' 21-year-old phenom is having his second MVP-caliber season in as many years. He currently ranks second in the American League in batting average (.329), third in runs (73), fifth in walks (56), sixth in steals (23) and ninth in RBI (66). His contributions across the board are perhaps paralleled only by the reigning AL MVP Miguel Cabrera.
Mark Trumbo: B
|Year to Date||410||101||56||23||63||39||2||.246|
Analysis: With 23 home runs at the end of July, Mark Trumbo currently leads the Angels in dingers. At the moment, he has six more homers than Albert Pujols and eight more than Josh Hamilton.
Trumbo's home run totals per month have been rather consistent: five in April, seven in May, six in June and five in July. Look for the right-handed slugger to continue his current pace and end the season in the 32-35-home run range.
Joe Blanton: D
|Year to Date||22||119||2||13||98||28||5.52||1.56|
Analysis: Another month, another stretch of bad games for Joe Blanton in 2013. With three more losses added to the tally in July, Blanton now shares the league lead in losses (13) with Philadelphia's Cole Hamels.
Not surprisingly, the Angels went 1-5 on the month in games in which Blanton appeared. In his four starts, he allowed four runs three times and six runs once.
Jered Weaver: A
|Year to Date||14||88.2||5||5||73||22||2.84||1.12|
Analysis: Jered Weaver easily had his best month of the season in July. The Angels' ace went 4-1 with a sparkling 1.32 ERA.
In his most recent outing against the Texas Rangers, Weaver pitched seven innings of five-hit ball, allowing one earned run. The Angels bullpen then gave up one run in the eighth inning and two runs in the ninth, voiding what appeared to be his fifth win of the month.
After an injury-riddled three-month stretch, Weaver appears to have gotten back on track with six out of seven quality starts.
Jerome Williams: F
|Year to Date||26||109.2||5||7||65||36||4.60||1.40|
Analysis: The only pitcher on the Angels staff to have a worse July than Joe Blanton was Jerome Williams. And it wasn't pretty. Williams started six games and gave up 26 runs in just 25.2 innings. His close-to-1:1 strikeout-to-walk ratio pushed his WHIP to 2.39. The Angels went 1-4 in Williams' five starts in July.
C.J. Wilson: A-
|Year to Date||22||139.2||11||6||130||55||3.48||1.34|
Analysis: C.J. Wilson's latest outing against the Texas Rangers on July 30 spoiled an otherwise exceptional July. Prior to allowing six runs in four innings on Tuesday, Wilson had only given up five earned runs in his previous four starts (29.0 innings).
He added to his team-leading strikeout total (130) in July with 31 more punchouts. The southpaw also added three wins to his season total, which now stands at 11, five better than the next Angel pitcher Jason Vargas.
|Year to Date||14||17||27||332.0||8.46||3.77||0.98||4.23|
*Bullpen statistics courtesy of FanGraphs.com
Analysis: The Angels bullpen was absolutely miserable in the month of July. Leads were blown in all but one game of the team's current six-game losing streak.
Most notably, Ernesto Frieri blew saves on back-to-back nights in Arlington against the Texas Rangers. On Monday, the closer took to the mound with a 3-2 lead in the bottom of the ninth before squandering a game-tying home run to A.J. Pierzynski and a walk-off home run to Geovany Soto.
On Tuesday, Frieri walked Ian Kinsler with two outs and then gave up a game-tying single to Adrian Beltre.
Spanning his last three appearances, Frieri has retired only six of the last 20 batters he's faced. Regarding his recent performances on the mound, the Angels closer admitted to Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com:
This is the most frustrating moment in my career. I've never gone through this, I don't know what to do. I'm just going to keep fighting. I won't give up. I won't give up. I'm just going to keep fighting.
Deja vu happened all over again on Wednesday night. Michael Kohn surrendered a walk-off home run to Adrian Beltre in the bottom of the ninth, the third walk-off in as many nights against the Angels bullpen.