Results tagged ‘ Brett Gardner ’
Should he be a major-leaguer? Can he be a regular?
I thought last season that Angle would be an excellent fourth or fifth outfielder and had a chance to be a regular outfielder, like Brett Gardner. While I underrated Gardner in that analysis — Gardner was and is a better player than Angle — I still think Angle is a major-league player.
First, the positives. Angle is an outstanding defensive center fielder, perhaps not quite as spectacular as Torii Hunter or as physical as Andruw Jones, but outstanding nevertheless. He has plus-plus speed, a knack for judging fly balls and running good routes. He also has an above-average throwing arm that plays better because he’s very accurate. In fact, although some of my colleagues might think it impossible, Angle may be an overall better center fielder than Denard Span, who was certainly the most spectacular center fielder I’ve seen in my six seasons of datacasting and had always been considered the best. Offensively, Angle has good strike-zone judgement and is an outstanding base-stealer (minor league career totals — 169 stolen bases in 205 attempts.)
Also, his performance last year told me a lot about Angle’s makeup. He got off to a terrible start. While many AAA players who get off to terrible starts end up with truly terrible years, Angle rebounded to have a solid season not far out of line with his career performance. He didn’t press, nor try to do too much, nor let his offensive struggles affect his defense.
The negative, and it’s a big negative, is that Angle doesn’t hit for any power at all — a career (slugging percentage – batting average) of .066 (Brett Gardner’s minor-league value was .094). Generally, the concern with a player with so little power is that he’s a weakling and pitchers will throw strikes, knowing he can’t hurt him. And, in general, the concern is valid. I think Angle may be an exception. He has a flat swing, so he does hit the ball hard but without much loft. Angle does draw an adequate number of walks, so he’s not a Joey Gathright against whom pitchers groove pitches.
Angle’s not going to be a superstar. On the right team — a team with an above-average offense but a below-average defense on which Angle could hit ninth (with the DH) or eighth (without the DH) — I’d be happy to plug Angle into center field.
So why did the Orioles expose Angle to waivers, where the Dodgers claimed him?
I’m not going to discuss the merits of signing Luis Ayala here, nor am I going to lambaste the Orioles front office. I think the Orioles exposed Angle for several reasons. First, the Orioles are the wrong team for Angle. They have an outstanding defensive center fielder in Adam Jones. While their offense is better than it was when Cesar Izturis and Josh Bell occupied the ninth and eighth spots, it’s still not a good offense. But more importantly, the Orioles are still — again? — in the initial phases of their development. As I see it, when they signed Ayala, the Orioles had to choose between Angle and Jai Miller for the roster spot. While I think Angle is better than Miller, I also think that Miller has a much better chance of becoming a very good player (mainly because Angle doesn’t have any chance of developing much beyond the adequate-regular class.) So, since the Orioles are so far away from being good, it might make sense to hope that Miller lives up to his potential and allow Angle to go elsewhere. As I said, I would have kept Angle, but I can see the case for keeping Miller.
Is he a future star?
No. Angle has no power, so he has no star potential.
How about a future regular?
Maybe. While Angle has no power, he is an outstanding defensive center fielder. Offensively, he has good speed which he uses well; he’ll take a walk; and can probably hit .280 in the major leagues.
The interesting thing about Angle is that he’d probably have a better chance of being a regular on a good team — or, more specifically, a good offensive team — than on a bad team like the 2010 Orioles. Angle doesn’t profile that much differently than Brett Gardner. But because the Yankees have a good offensive team, they can afford to bat Gardner in the 9th spot in the batting order, where a speedy on-base machine with little power can be the so-called second leadoff man. Unfortunately, the 2010 Orioles were carrying at least two non-hitters in the lineup. Angle’s not a good enough hitter to bat leadoff, and he doesn’t have enough power to bat 7th or higher. So, he could play regularly on a good team but not on a bad team.
The Orioles have added Derrek Lee, Mark Reynolds, Vladimir Guerrero, and J.J. Hardy to the lineup, presumably improving the offense. Unfortunately, that probably moves Luke Scott to left field, and Angle won’t be beating him out unless Scott’s defense is unplayable.
How about a bench player?
Definitely. A table-setting pinch-hitter, who can pinch-run, and play brilliant defense in the outfield? Who hits left-handed? I’d sure think I’d find room on my bench for him. The Orioles are probably committed to carrying at least twelve pitchers, which will hurt his chances.