Los Angeles Angels Players Who Need to Step Up in Josh Hamilton's Absence

Trey Warren@treydwarrenContributor IIIApril 10, 2014

Los Angeles Angels' Josh Hamilton (32) races down the third base line to score against the Houston Astros on a Erick Aybar ground out in the fifth inning of a baseball game Sunday, April 6, 2014, in Houston. The Astros won 7-4. (AP Photo/Pat Sullivan)
Pat Sullivan

The Los Angeles Angels will be without left fielder Josh Hamilton for the next six to eight weeks after tearing a ligament in his thumb that will require surgery.

The 32-year-old injured himself attempting to beat out a ground ball hit to short. He dove head first into first base and was unsuccessful beating the throw. You can view the play in the video provided.

In terms of Hamilton’s production since becoming an Angel in 2013, it couldn’t have come at a worse time. Hamilton leads the team in most offensive categories, including hits, batting average, runs, walks and on-base percentage.

It is very early in the season, but the club will be without Hamilton until about the middle of May. And until he returns, there are a few players who need to step up in his absence.

Kole Calhoun

Kole Calhoun had an impressive MLB debut year last season with a .282/.347/.462 slash line in 58 games.

With the exception of hitting two homers, he is off to a slow start this season. Calhoun has recorded seven hits in 36 at-bats and has struck out nine times in nine games. He has hit in the leadoff spot in every game except April 9, a contest in which he hit sixth in the order.

He will most likely continue to hit leadoff, as MLB.com’s Alden Gonzalez explains in the tweet below.

Calhoun will need to join Mike Trout in providing runs at the top of the order. Albert Pujols and David Freese both aren't the same hitters they were in 2012, but getting on ahead of them will at least provide an opportunity for more runs, which will be important with one less power bat in the lineup.

Raul Ibanez

Raul Ibanez will most likely stay in the DH spot but will need to be more disciplined at the plate.

He set a career high for strikeouts (128) last season after playing in only 124 games with the Seattle Mariners. The chart below gives a better outlook of Ibanez’s production over the last four years.

Raul Ibanez statistics from 2010-2013

Although 41 years old, Ibanez can still hit the long ball and provide some run production. With Hamilton out, he is the only left-handed power threat on the club. Calhoun and Erick Aybar are the other two lefties in the lineup, who combined to hit 14 homers in 2013.

Ibanez will only be effective if he cuts down on strikeouts. He needs to be productive for Mike Scioscia as the manager’s options on the bench are limited in the power department.

J.B. Shuck/Collin Cowgill

J.B. Shuck should ultimately get the majority of playing time in Hamilton’s absence after playing 129 games for the Angels in 2013, but he could also platoon with Collin Cowgill.

Shuck isn't going to impress anybody with power, but he can spray the ball around. He hit .290 for the Halos last season, which included 20 doubles and three triples. He shows good plate discipline and puts the ball in play, striking out just 54 times in 2013.

As for Cowgill, he got the start in left field on April 9 and has not very effective at the dish. He recorded one hit and scored but struck out twice. He made the 25-man roster at the beginning of the season for his versatility in the outfield.

That’s why Shuck will most likely play, considering Calhoun is in right field and Trout plays center.

Shuck needs to be a factor at the bottom of the order. He needs to get on base in front of Calhoun and Trout and provide extra scoring opportunities for the top third of the lineup.

Again, Hamilton is likely to be back before June, making his DL stint fairly short for having surgery. But the AL West is going to be a competitive division this year, and the offense will need to contribute until his return.

After all, prior to going down, Hamilton was showing signs of being the hitter the Angels feared in Arlington.

All stats courtesy of Baseball-Reference.

You can follow Trey on Twitter: @treydwarren.


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