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What About the Angels?


Mad Mark

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Tom Boswell can be super annoying when writing about the Orioles or Nationals, but I found this piece in today's Post to be interesting, and I'd love to know what the rest of the Hangout thought of it:

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Occasionally, a baseball team finds a slightly different and subtly efficient way to play the game. Through a blend of style and personnel that goes against the current vogues, such teams seem like throwbacks or outliers, clubs that cannot quite be explained by the vocabulary of the day. But the won-lost record tells the tale. They come to the top, though no one quite knows why -- except the teams themselves. They always know. Victory is never an accident. As October approaches, they can't wait for the postseason to begin. Because they are slightly mysterious, they are dangerous, especially to more famous foes.

That brings us to the Los Angeles Angels, a team that doesn't hit home runs, doesn't draw walks, doesn't successfully steal bases and doesn't show patience at the plate, all cardinal sins in the stat-geek world. However, the Halos do score tons of runs and have the second-best record in the sport, despite only one household name (Vladimir Guerrero). The Angels currently can be seen torturing the Orioles at Camden Yards; their series concludes Thursday night, none too soon for Baltimore's taste, after being edged 10-5 and 18-6 the last two nights.

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Excellent description of the Angels. I thought the same thing about the Mariners...couldn't figure out how they were winning.

No one really scares you in their lineup (outside of Vlad, of course), but they seem to get timely hits. They have an ace and a superstar and they've built around them. They also have a good bullpen and a manager who seems to know how to push the team's buttons.

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Very interesting. Winning and not doing it the sabermetrics way. Huh? Is it possible? I didnt think it was.

Winning despite the numbers. They dont walk much (except last night).

They dont hit homeruns. They arent fat and go station to station. How can they win?

Somebody run the numbers and figure out why.

Maybe its mirrors.

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They may not walk a lot as a team but they're 3rd in the AL in OBP and 4th in runs due to a few career years (Figgins and Cabrera), young players that can hit for average and get on base (Kendrick and Kotchman), a walking machine in Willits, Anderson playing like he did 5 years ago, and Guerrero playing like you'd expect. Just as important they have 4 starters with an ERA of 4.00 or lower backed with an excellent bullpen. Not difficult to see why they're so good this year.

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Also this bit:

Nobody plays like the Angels. The burly Scioscia stresses fundamentals, demands hustle and is delighted that few people understand what makes his team tick. The Angels are 26th in home runs with only three more than the lowly Nationals. Yet they'd scored 177 more runs than Washington. They're 27th in walks and next to last in "pitches seen" (patience at the plate). They've been caught stealing more than any team and rank 20th in stolen base percentage, though they're second in steals.

According to the "Moneyball" types, this should neuter their offense. But they are fifth in baseball in runs, close to Boston.

Interesting.

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Very interesting. Winning and not doing it the sabermetrics way. Huh? Is it possible? I didnt think it was.

Winning despite the numbers. They dont walk much (except last night).

They dont hit homeruns. They arent fat and go station to station. How can they win?

Somebody run the numbers and figure out why.

Maybe its mirrors.

They get on base a lot and have great pitching. What about that is not "the sabermetrics way?"

I think there is this misconception that stat-guys think the only way to win is to emphasize skills that baseball has traditionally glanced over (drawing walks, for example). This is not true. Emphasizing those things is simply the most EFFICIENT way to win. And in recent years that skill has become more revered, so efficient strategy will always be changing.

In the sabermetric world of planet dorkulous, just as in the old boys club that is the baseball diamond, the only way to win is to find ways to create more runs than you allow. It really isn't possible to win in any way that isn't the "sabermetric way."

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Also this bit:

Interesting.

Again, I'm not quite sure what about the angels should prevent them from winning. They get on base a heck of a lot, even if it is mostly through basehits while drawing fewer walks. The poor stolen base percentage has cost them runs, regardless of what Scioscia thinks of his emphasis on hustle and "fundamentals." It just hasn't cost them enough runs to outweigh their excellent pitching.

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You don't have to walk a ton when you're hitting .300+. Look at their lineup, it's .300 hitters galore. How much is skill and how much is luck, I don't know. But they're 5th in MLB in OBP despite being 21st in walks.

And despite not hitting a lot of homers, they do hit a lot of doubles. They're a gap power team. They're third in MLB in doubles.

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