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.

Aledmys Diaz is trying to improve his defense with strobe glasses

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MLB.com’s Jenifer Langosch reports that Cardinals’ shortstop Aledmys Diaz has been sporting a new look around Busch Stadium with a pair of “strobe glasses,” technology-enhanced specs designed to help athletes focus on the ball. Like a strobe light, the lenses of these glasses affect a player’s vision by rapidly changing opacity, giving its wearers the illusion that the objects they see are moving more slowly than normal. Once a player adjusts to the new speed of play, they gain a greater sense of control and are able to time their actions with more precision.

Diaz isn’t the first MLB player to utilize the technology, just the first Cardinals’ player to do so. It’s been tested by Bryce Harper, Corey Brown, Tommy Joseph, Austin Hedges and Joe Mauer, among others around the league, and has been used for everything from refining a catcher’s reflexes behind the plate to tweaking a hitter’s ability to track a pitch. Per Langosch, Diaz has been using the glasses to hone in on the ball during pregame drills, increasing both his confidence and response time on the field and improving his defense at short.

The shortstop has been the focus of some concern this season after seeing a sizable dip in his production at the plate, and his five fielding errors, 0.6 UZR and 0.6 fWAR haven’t helped matters, either. He sustained a minor thumb injury during an at-bat on Friday night, and was left off of the Cardinals’ starting lineup on Saturday, though manager Mike Matheny didn’t rule out his ability to pinch-hit during the series. While the strobe glasses are a good start, Diaz will need more than a pair of specs to match the spotlight-worthy performance he turned out during his rookie season in 2016.

Eduardo Rodriguez could rejoin the Red Sox rotation in July

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Red Sox’ left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez may finally get a chance at cracking the rotation again, assuming all goes well in Double-A Portland first. Rodriguez took the field prior to the club’s afternoon session with the Angels, firing 68 pitches in a simulated game as he prepared for an upcoming rehab assignment in Portland on Thursday.

The 24-year-old southpaw suffered a right knee subluxation during pregame warmups on June 1, and it’s been a slow path to recovery ever since. It’s not the first time Rodriguez has had issues with his right knee — he sustained a similar injury during spring training last year — and this time around, the Red Sox weren’t about to gamble with their starter’s health. Ian Browne of MLB.com reports that Rodriguez was put in a knee brace and underwent exercises designed to help him regain some mobility and stability while he worked back up to full strength on the mound.

He’ll still need to prove he can throw a 75- to 80-pitch outing in Double-A, and barring any significant setbacks, will likely rejoin the Red Sox’ pitching staff when they visit the Rangers next month. In the meantime, the club will continue to cycle starters through the No. 5 spot, which has seen no fewer than three different pitchers since Rodriguez hit the disabled list. The lefty is 4-2 in 10 starts this season after logging a 3.54 ERA, 3.1 BB/9 and career-high 9.6 SO/9 through his first 61 innings.