Of all the potential landing spots for Hideki Matsui, the Angels seemed unlikely. As one of the teams with wallets thick enough to afford a Matt Holliday or Jason Bay, their willingness to bow out and settle on Matsui seems fairly odd. The money (one-year, $6.5M) is similar to the deal signed by Bobby Abreu last off-season but the circumstances vary wildly. Nevertheless, the Angels have their replacement for Vladimir Guerrero.
Matsui will turn 36 in mid-June and bats from the left side of the plate. Over the last three seasons he’s posted wOBA of .368, .348, and .378. That 2009 mark wouldn’t seem the least bit suspicious if not for a .235 ISO. That marks a career best from Matsui and it happens to come the year he spent in the Yankees new wind-aided launching pad. The odds of him repeating such a display of pop are unlikely. Without adjusting for park, league, or age, a 5-4-3-2 regression has Matsui with a wOBA around .360 next year. That looks remarkably like a projection for Abreu and it’s an upgrade over Vlad’s 2009.
There are hints that Matsui will get a chance to play the field occasionally. That’s not going to cost the Angels much in terms of runs unless he’s playing the field quite often, which is something he did not at all in 2009. The more pressing concern might be health-related. Matsui has had some issues in the past staying healthy and their starters wouldn’t appear to be the most reliable options either. Barring some new additions, the Angels are looking at a starting outfield of Abreu (36), Torii Hunter (34), and Juan Rivera (31). I can’t think of too many outfields currently in place with an average age of 34 years as of late outside of the 2004 Giants and 2001 Yankees.
I’m not saying age is going to guarantee injury or that Abreu will lose a limb sometime soon, it’s just peculiar that the Angels went this route with their history of making a splash on the market and the chance to get younger.
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