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.

James Paxton will “nerd out big-time” to stay healthy next year

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To the surprise of, well, very few, the Mariners didn’t make the cut for the postseason this year. While they threw their hats in the ring for a wild card berth, their pitching staff just couldn’t stay healthy, from the handful of pitchers who contracted season-ending injuries in spring training to Felix Hernandez‘s shoulder bursitis to structural damage in Hisashi Iwakuma‘s right shoulder. Left-hander James Paxton missed 79 days with a lingering head cold, strained left forearm and pectoral strain. Heading into the 2018 season, the lefty told MLB.com’s Greg Johns that he plans to “nerd out big-time” in order to prepare for a healthy, consistent run with the club.

So far, Johns reports, that entails a new diet and workout program, hot yoga sessions and blood testing. “I just think there’s more I can do,” Paxton said. “I haven’t done the blood testing before. Finding out if there’s something I don’t know about myself. It’s just about learning and trying to find what works for me.”

When healthy, the 28-year-old southpaw was lights-out for the Mariners. He helped stabilize the front end of the rotation with a 12-5 record in 24 starts and supplemented his efforts with a 2.98 ERA, 2.4 BB/9 and 10.3 SO/9 through 136 innings. Despite taking multiple trips to the disabled list, he built up 4.6 fWAR — the most wins above replacement he’s compiled in any season of his career to date. Had he not been felled by a pectoral injury in mid-August — one that came with a five-week trip to the disabled list — the club might have been been able to make a bigger push for the playoffs.

Of course, even if Paxton manages to stay healthy next season, the Mariners still have the rest of the rotation to worry about. They cycled through 17 starters in 2017 and tied the 2014 Rangers with 40 total pitchers over the course of the season. Per GM Jerry Dipoto, their top four starters (Paxton, Hernandez, Iwakuma, and Tommy John candidate Drew Smyly) only contributed 17% of total innings pitched, just a tad below the 40% average. Finding adequate big league arms and compensating for injured aces (both current and former) will be tough. Still, getting a healthy, dominant Paxton back on the mound for 30+ starts would be a huge get for the team — whether or not the postseason is in their future next year.