30 Teams in 30 Days – Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

This article was written by Simple Jack, not Vernon Smells, as the web site may suggest. The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim…..Wait are they still called that? I don’t even know anymore. Well anyway the LA Angels will be one of the most interesting teams to watch going into the 2012 season (if you know what I mean. Ahem, Albert Pujols). Anyway here’s how they stacked up in 2011.
Los Angeles Angels 
Record: 86-76 (6 game improvement from 2010)
Finish: 2nd AL West
Playoffs: N/A
Top Pitcher: Jared Weaver, 18-8, 2.41 ERA, 198 SO
Top Hitter: Mark Trumbo (Seriously?), .254 AVG, 29 HR, 87 RBI
Manager: Mike Scioscia
Important Acquisitions: Albert Pujols, Albert Pujols, CJ Wilson, Albert Pujols, Chris Iannetta, Albert Pujols, Jorge Cantu, LaTroy Hawkins, Jason Isringhausen, Jorge Cantu and of course Albert Pujols
Important Losses: Jeff Mathis TOR, Tyler Chatwood COL and not Albert Pujols

The Los Angeles Angels had a disappointing season in 2011. The once perennial power of the 2000s failed to make the playoffs for the second straight year and watched their division rival Texas Rangers make it to the World Series two consecutive years. It’s been 10 years exactly since the Angels knotted their last and only World Series title, and based on the moves they have made during this free agency it looks like they’re determined on making another title run. The Angels finished the 2011 season struggling, 11 games before the season ended they were only 3.5 games out of a playoff spot. Throughout much of the second half of 2011 they were within striking distance of the Rangers, most of the time within 2 games or less, however the Angels just couldn’t get over that hump and capture the division title. But 2012 will be a new era for the Los Angeles Angels and will be a year for them to most definitely assert themselves a powerhouse in the league and a force to be reckoned with. With arguably the strongest starting rotation in the majors which includes Jered Weaver (a competitor for the Cy Young in 2011), Dan Haren, newly acquired CJ Wilson, Ervin Santana, with Jerome William most likely assuming the role as the fifth starter. To put this rotation in perspective, in 2011 none of these pitchers had an ERA above 3.70 , four were below a 3.40 ERA, and two were below a 3.00 ERA. Together they post a combined record of 65-37 in 2011. The Angels starting pitching core is most certainly stronger and has more depth than any other aspect of their team (which considering their addition of you know who is saying a lot). The Angels pulled off the biggest free agent acquisition of the 2011 offseason and probably the biggest one since Alex Rodriguez signed with the Rangers back in 2000, with their signing of Albert Pujols. There really isn’t anything more to say. Along with signing Pujols the Angels were able to retain their core of strong hitters, despite most of whom posting a poor 2011, still have potential to return to prominence in 2012, who include Howie Kendrick 2B, Alberto Callapso 3B, Vernon Wells OF, Torii Hunter OF, Erick Ayber SS, Mark Trumbo 1B, Kendrys Morales 1B and even Bobby Abreu OF (well maybe not so much him). The only weakness that may be in store for the Angels is their bullpen. Without an established closer or setup man and some new faces such as LaTroy Hawkins the Angels bullpen has a lot of adjusting to do (but hey, who needs a bullpen anyway when you have 3 guys who can go 8 innings?). Anyway, I foresee the Angels will be a powerhouse in 2012 and in years to come and most certainly post one of the best records in the league.
Prediction
Record: 98-64
Finish: 1st in AL West
Playoffs: World Series Appearance
Top Pitcher: Jered Weaver, 21-6, 2.63 ERA 214 SO (Cy Young Winner)
Top Hitter: Albert Pujols, .314 AVG, 41 HR, 126 RBI (MVP candidate)
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-Simple Jack

Does Good Pitching Really Beat Good Hitting?

For years the question has been asked, how do you make the best MLB Team, Pitching or Hitting. Typically you’ll hear lots of the same, “good pitching beats good hitting” but is it necessarily true? We here at Critics From The Couch are going to go through deep analysis using last years stats, we’ll also look at the effect defense and stolen bases have on a teams W’s to show you the best way to build a ball club.

Let’s start with pitching, we’re going to take the top 8 teams in various pitching stats and use as a complicated point system based on how they did in the season/playoffs(if applicable) based on where they are on the list.

ERA Leaders               WHIP                           SO                                 Fewest BB
Philadelphia 9.54           Philadelphia 9.54         Atlanta 7.96                   Philadelphia 9.54
San Francisco 7.43       Tampa Bay 8.37          San Francisco 7.43      Seattle 5.80
San Diego 5.91              Milwaukee 8.76            Philadelphia 9.01          Chi. White Sox 6.59
Atlanta 7.14                    San Francisco 6.90     L.A Dodgers 6.62          Milwaukee 8.46
L.A Dodgers 6.36           Texas 8.41                   Milwaukee 8.16             Arizona 7.75
L.A Angles 6.37               Atlanta 6.58                 Chi. Cubs 5.26             St. Louis 8.17
Washington 5.72             L.A Dodgers 5.85        NY Yankees 7.39         Texas 7.82
Tampa Bay 6.68             Seattle 4.55                  Chi. White Sox 5.37     Cleveland 5.43
TOTAL: 55.15                TOTAL: 58.96              Total: 57.19                 Total: 59.56
Team ERA proves a       Team WHIP proves      Team SO proves a      Fewest BB proves
value of 55.15 Pts.          a value of 58.96 Pts      value of 57.19 Pts.      a value of 59.56 Pts

As you can tell, WHIP and BB have a big effect on a team, where ERA really doesn’t seem to be as important as people think, let’s see how it compares to hitting.

AVG                            HR                                RBI                               SLG
Texas 9.60                 NY Yankees 9.19          Boston 8.06                  Boston 8.06
Boston 7.78                Texas 9.30                    NY Yankees 8.89         Texas 9.30
Detroit 8.66                 Boston 7.51                  Texas 9.01                    NY Yankees 8.09
Kansas City 5.69        Baltimore 5.54               Detroit 8.37                  Detroit 8.37
St. Louis 8.45              Toronto 6.25                 St. Louis 8.45               Milwaukee 8.16
NY Mets 5.70               Milwaukee 7.87             Kansas City 5.26         St. Louis 8.17
NY Yankees 7.39         Cincinnati 5.61              Toronto 5.75                Kansas City 5.04
Milwaukee 7.27            Atlanta 6.04                   Arizona 6.88                Arizona 6.88
Total: 60.54                 Total: 57.31                  Total: 60.67                Total: 62.07
Team AVG proves       Team HR proves          Team RBI proves a      Team SLG proves a
a value of 60.54 Pts.     a value of 57.31 Pts.     value of 60.67 Pts.      value of 62.07 Pts.

WOW, Hitting seems to have a serious advantage over Pitching, look at SLG%, who would have thought that would be so important. So here it would seem that maybe hitting is more important. Keep in mind though, this is just from one season(last season) and we only used 4 stat categories for each, but based on this small sample, maybe teams should start building more around hitting than pitching. Let’s take a look at how defense and swiped bags compare.

FPCT                             DER                            SB:                             SBPCT
Philadelphia 9.54           Tampa Bay 8.65          Boston 8.06                Florida 6.44
Tampa Bay 8.37            Cincinnati 6.83             San Diego 6.13           Houston 4.84
Chi. White Sox 6.59       San Diego 5.91           Chi. White Sox 6.59    NY Mets 6.41
Atlanta 7.14                     L.A Angels 6.90           Houston 4.50             Philadelphia 8.69
L.A Dodgers 6.36            Philadelphia 8.38        Atlanta 6.86                Chi. White Sox 6.10
Cincinnati 5.86                Texas 8.12                  NY Yankees 7.69       Tampa Bay 6.74
Arizona 7.17                    Boston 6.39                 L.A Angles 6.11         L.A Angels 6.11
L.A Angels 5.84               Arizona 6.88                San Francisco 5.84   Atlanta 6.04
Total: 56.87                    Total: 58.07                Total: 51.78               Total: 51.37
Team Fielding                 Team Defensive          Team SB proves a     Team SBPCT
Percentage proves          Efficiency Rating          value of 51.78 Pts.     proves a value of
a value of 56.87 Pts.        proves a value of                                             51.37 Pts.
                                         58.07 Pts.

As we all know it takes all components of the game to build a winning team, but based off of these findings, on a very very small sample of research, it would seem that hitting is the most important, where pitching and defense seem a little less important. Stolen Bases on this list seem to have no affect at all on how good a team is. So, does good pitching really beat good hitting? Maybe, but good hitting will definitely win you games.

-Vernon Smells (Kalib Tilley)