Angels need to play to their strength, or lack thereof


Torii Hunter celebrates his "anti-Angels baseball" home run on Wednesday with Alberto Callaspo. (Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

If you’re an Angels fan, you’ve seen this scenario time and time again: Two Halos are in scoring position, licking their chops as they eye home plate like voracious animals. They know, as well as anybody, that the name of the game is speed, and the Angels have got it. A single pretty much guarantees that two runs will score. After all, that’s Angels baseball.

But as we jaded Angels fans have come to expect, the inning will inevitably end with both of those men staring at the ground and muttering to themselves in disbelief as they jog back to the dugout.

That’s what has come to define the 2011 Angels — the inability to cash in.

The inability to sustain a solid rally is one of the key pieces missing from this Angels team, and it has fans and players alike scrambling for answers.

Here’s my suggestion: Quit swinging for the fences.

You’re probably thinking I’ve gone batty from watching inning after frustrating inning of nonexistent offense. Who in his right mind wouldn’t want to see home runs? But I assure you, I’ve seen enough out of this team to make that observation with confidence.

Yes, Torii Hunter and Alberto Callaspo went yard in back-to-back at-bats in Wednesday’s game. The Angels do have players like Mark Trumbo, Hunter and Callaspo with enough power to wallop a big fly every now and then. The problem is those players are in the minority on the team, and Howie Kendrick’s absence only intensifies the power shortage in Anaheim. Every once in a while, you expect to see a fluke Erick Aybar home run in a hitter’s ballpark. But to genuinely anticipate this lineup, composed of Maicer Izturis, Peter Bourjos and the like, can play like the big boys is a pipe dream.

If you want proof, go ahead and keep track of all the fly balls hit deep into the outfield that tail off and fall right into the outfielder’s glove.

This team is packed with warning track power and not much more. Rather, the majority of the team brings speed and aggressive baserunning, tailor made for Mike Scioscia’s trademarked brand of “Angels baseball.”

So who decided to ditch Angels baseball? Why are guys swinging so recklessly with two men on when a two-RBI single would not only plate the runs, but keep the offensive machinery going with another man on as well?

I love to see a clutch home run as much as the next guy, but it simply doesn’t fit with the identity of this Angels team. Two of the four runs scored against Oakland on Wednesday were via “small ball,” and they may have scored more had the smaller guys in the lineup not killed rallies by trying to do too much.

It’s time to embrace your status as a group of slap-hitters. Quit posing and play Angels baseball.

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  1. Couldn’t agree with you more. Even though I love him, Torii appears to me to be the worst offender. It looks like he tries to hit a five-run home run every time he’s up to bat.

    Another thing that drives me batty is the contact play when the Angels have a runner on third base. Sixty times a year, as soon as the Angels hit a ground ball to shortstop or third base, the runner on third breaks for home and is thrown out. We’ve been told ever since little league to stay on third on a ball hit on the left side of the infield, yet Scioscia sends runners to their certain doom game after game.

    And yet another thing — another hallmark of a Scioscia team that has disappeared is the ability to be a good bunting team.

    But, I’m excited about this new batch of homegrown talent. I’m glad Howie is having such a great start to his season. I love watching Borjous play center field and leg out another triple. It was amazing to watch how Weaver could pinpoint every pitch he threw during his first six games (Sign him to a long term deal already!). I live near Rancho Cucamonga, so I was able to watch Mike Trout play for the Quakes, and he was exciting to watch.

    With another year of MLB experience under the belts of Walden, Conger, Trumbo, Chatwood, et al., and with the addition of Trout on next year’s roster, I think the Angels are going to have one of the elite teams in baseball next year.

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