Projections and Paces – Angels

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This is the first of a series of blogs just taking a quick glance at
how my preseason projections are shaping up. This isn’t a serious
review — that will come after the season — so I’m just looking at a
few hitters from each team and ignoring pitchers and injured players
for now.

Mike Napoli
2008: .273/.374/.586, 20 HR, 39 R, 49 RBI, 7 SB in 227 AB
Proj : .242/.349/.463, 18 HR, 53 R, 52 RBI, 5 SB in 322 AB
Pace: .269/.350/.481, 21 HR, 55 R, 60 RBI, 5 SB in 408 AB

Napoli’s average is undergoing a correction now. He was as high as
.343 on May 8 and .327 on May 18, but his strikeout rate has been on
the way up since then. I expect his average to go lower still.

Torii Hunter
2008: .278/.344/.466, 21 HR, 85 R, 78 RBI, 19 SB in 551 AB
Proj : .270/.333/.465, 23 HR, 82 R, 91 RBI, 17 SB in 551 AB
Pace: .319/.397/.616, 42 HR, 118 R, 133 RBI, 29 SB in 564 AB

Career season would scarcely begin to describe it. All of those
numbers, with the exception of at-bats, would be career highs. His
current bests are a .289 average, 31 HR, 94 R, 107 RBI and 23 SB.

Bobby Abreu
2008: .296/.371/.471, 20 HR, 100 R, 100 RBI, 22 SB in 609 AB
Proj : .291/.380/.451, 17 HR, 99 R, 89 RBI, 25 SB in 594 AB
Pace: .297/.394/.421, 8 HR, 71 R, 84 RBI, 39 SB in 546 AB

With two homers and five doubles in June, the power finally seems to
be coming back. Too bad the steals have disappeared. He’s 0-for-1 this
month after going 15-for-15 in April and May.

Kendry Morales
2008: .213/.273/.393, 3 HR, 7 R, 8 RBI, 0 SB in 61 AB
Proj : .291/.332/.450, 17 HR, 73 R, 85 RBI, 1 SB in 529 AB
Pace: .271/.322/.495, 26 HR, 73 R, 89 RBI, 0 SB in 570 AB

Morales is showing better power than anticipated, but his struggles
against left-handers have hindered his average. He’s batting .186 with
no homers in 43 at-bats against southpaws.

Chone Figgins
2008: .276/.367/.318, 1 HR, 72 R, 22 RBI, 34 SB in 453 AB
Proj : .282/.354/.358, 4 HR, 90 R, 47 RBI, 43 SB in 561 AB
Pace: .324/.399/.411, 3 HR, 123 R, 47 RBI, 57 SB in 630 AB

Figgins wasn’t any good in April and he was still hitting in the
.240s into mid-May, so we’re a long way from knowing how this will turn
out. If the last couple of years are any indication, injuries will be a
factor at some point.

Juan Rivera
2008: .246/.282/.438, 12 HR, 31 R, 45 RBI, 1 SB in 256 AB
Proj : .280/.327/.476, 21 HR, 67 R, 83 RBI, 2 SB in 496 AB
Pace: .315/.353/.507, 24 HR, 55 R, 84 RBI, 0 SB in 530 AB

Rivera, likewise, has been red hot for a month. Even so, he’s on
pace for just 55 runs scored and 84 RBI and it’s not like he’s going to
keep hitting .315. 24 homers is realistic.

Watch: Mike Trout ties MLB record with his 25th home run

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It was only a matter of time before Mike Trout courted another all-time record, and on Saturday, he found himself in elite company with his 25th and 26th home runs of the season. He put the Angels on the board with a 429-foot blast in the first inning, depositing an 0-1 fastball from the Orioles’ Kevin Gausman into the left field bleachers:

In the third inning, with the Angels up 2-1, Trout returned to tack on another insurance run. He targeted Gausman’s slider for his second solo shot of the evening and cleared the center field fence with a 418-footer to bring his total to 26 home runs on the year.

Trout has mashed at a staggering .339/.471/.596 clip since his return from the disabled list last month, and Saturday’s totals helped mark his sixth consecutive season with at least 25 home runs. That’s a record few have matched before their age-26 season; in fact, only Hall of Fame sluggers Eddie Mathews and Frank Robinson have ever pulled it off.

Assuming he continues to rake in hits and plate appearances over the last six weeks of the regular season — and there’s nothing to indicate that he won’t — Trout is in line to join elite company of a different kind. The 26-year-old entered Saturday’s game with a 206 OPS+ (park-adjusted on-base plus slugging). According to MLB.com’s Matt Kelly, that means Trout’s hitting at a better clip than the average Major League player by a full 106 percent. Should he finish the year with a 200 OPS+ and 502 plate appearances or better, he’ll be the first player to do so since Barry Bonds obliterated the competition with his 263 OPS+ in 2004.

Blue Jays acquire Tom Koehler from Marlins

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The Blue Jays acquired right-hander Tom Koehler from the Marlins in exchange for minor league right-hander Osman Gutierrez and cash considerations, the clubs announced Saturday. Koehler is in his sixth year with the Marlins and stands to make $5.75 million in 2017. He’ll be arbitration eligible in 2018 and is set to enter free agency by 2019.

The 31-year-old right-hander struggled to a 7.92 ERA, 4.7 BB/9 and 7.1 SO/9 over 55 2/3 innings with Miami in 2017. He was optioned to Triple-A New Orleans in late July, where he rebounded with a 1-1 record in seven starts and whittled his ERA down to a 1.67 mark. The Blue Jays have yet to establish Koehler’s role within their organization, but are hoping to see a turnaround from the righty when he breaks back into the big leagues.

Gutierrez, 22, was assigned to Single-A Greensboro on Saturday. He has yet to find his footing in the minors, and exited a 78-inning stint with Single-A Lansing after racking up a career-worst 7.85 ERA and 8.2 SO/9. His lack of control is particularly alarming, with a 6.2 BB/9 that dwarfs the 2.0+ BB/9 of seasons past, but he still has plenty of time to figure out his mechanics before reaching the Show.