Anaheim Goes Clubbing

For the last few years, the Angels offensive game plan has been to try to get a few fast guys on the bases in front of Vladimir Guerrero and then hope he hits a three run homer. They could afford some offensive weaknesses thanks to their starting rotation, and they built a winner out of run prevention with just enough offense to get by.

Between injuries and age, Guerrero has struggled this season, as he currently has just four home runs. So, what happens to an offense who loses production from their best – and sometimes only – hitter?

They lead the league in scoring runs, apparently. After thumping Minnesota all weekend, the Angels have now scored 590 runs, or 5.73 runs per game, passing the Yankees for the #1 spot in offensive production. The Yankees still have the league’s highest wOBA, but the Angels are #2, so it’s not like this is some kind of clutch-hitting fluke. They really are pounding the tar out of the baseball.

The bulk of the credit has to go to Kendry Morales, Juan Rivera, and Mike Napoli, who all entered the season as question marks and have responded by hitting like All-Stars. The Angels have gotten a .383 wOBA from that trio, far outpacing their expectations. When you add in an on base machine like Bobby Abreu, a career year from Torii Hunter, and another strong offensive performance from Chone Figgins, the Angels have six guys who are among the best in the league in production at their respective positions.

Even their “weak spots” have produced league average hitters, as Erick Aybar is having the best season of his career and Howie Kendrick has been on fire since returning from the minors. The balance of having no holes in the line-up has given the Angels a multi-pronged attack that can exploit holes in different kinds of pitchers. Regardless of what kind of pitcher you put on the hill, the Angels have a couple of guys who can whack that pitcher type.

Toss in the fact that they have five switch-hitters, and the Angels can be a nightmare to match up with. Even with Ervin Santana injured or ineffective for most of the season and the loss of John Lackey for the first part of the season, the Angels have run up the best record in the AL West by bludgeoning other teams. This isn’t traditional Angels baseball, but it works really well.

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Dave is the Managing Editor of FanGraphs.

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