Angels’ All-Star break report card: B
The Angels go into the All-Star break a game out of first place and on the move, having won 20 of their last 27 games. Grading on a curve, or maybe it’s a hard slider, against the rest of baseball, the team passed some crucial tests in the first half but still has some makeup assignments to complete in the second half.
Overall grade: B
Starting rotation: B+
With All-Star Jered Weaver (11-4, 1.86) and Dan Haren (10-5, 2.61), the Angels are the only team in the league to have two starters in the top six in earned-run average and wins. After that, the Angels have been plagued by inconsistency with the rest of the starters going 14-17 combined.
No AL team has blown more save opportunities than the Angels (17) and no reliever has blown more save chances than rookie closer Jordan Walden. But the problem isn’t so much the back end of the bullpen as it is the middle relief. Left-hander Scott Downs has been better than advertised, going 5-2 with 14 holds in 34 games.
Defense up the middle: B+
After some early uncertainty, center fielder Peter Bourjos could be on his way to a Gold Glove and shortstop Erick Aybar has been nearly as brilliant at times. Behind the plate, the Angels have thrown out less than 18% of prospective basestealers.
Defense at the corners: B-
With former Gold Glove center fielders Vernon Wells and Torii Hunter in left and right, respectively, the Angels might have baseball’s best defensive outfield. Not so much in the infield, though, where Alberto Callaspo’s 11 errors are second-most among AL third baseman and Mark Trumbo’s five errors are fourth-most at first.
Clutch hitting: D+
The Angels are hitting more than 10 points below the league average with runners in scoring position and have grounded into more double plays than any other AL team. They also have stranded nearly seven runners a game, which may explain why only two teams in the majors have lost more extra-inning games than the Angels.
Manufacturing runs: C
Although the Angels have almost as many stolen bases (75) as home runs (76), they have been successful in less than three-quarters of their stolen-base attempts. And they rank in the bottom six in baseball in walks and in the bottom 10 in runs.
Management (coaching, decision making): C
Injuries and the Angels’ oft-struggling offense have forced Manager Mike Scioscia to get creative, using 73 lineups in 92 games. Some of that has worked, some of it hasn’t. The success of Rich Thompson and Downs has helped solidify some bullpen roles, and the team went into the All-Star break having won 20 of 27.
Star power (is the team fun to watch; if so, who?): B
Bourjos’ highlight-reel defense is rapidly making him a fan favorite leaguewide. Ditto Walden’s 100-mph fastball, the prodigious power of Trumbo and starting pitchers Weaver and Haren.
Off-season moves: C-
The Angels knew — or should have known — that a full season from Kendrys Morales was unlikely. And pitcher Scott Kazmir was a huge question mark as well. But the team did little to address those issues. They did add Downs, who has been valuable, and after a slow start Wells is second on the team with 13 home runs.
Wells, Downs, Aybar, right-hander Joel Pineiro and All-Star Howie Kendrick, among others, have all spent time on the disabled list. By mid-June, however, the Angels were healthy. They have gone 17-5 since.
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