The Angels began the season stunned by the death of pitcher Nick Adenhart
September 30, 2009
The Angels began the season stunned by the death of pitcher Nick Adenhart in an automobile accident, then went through the first few months with a minor league pitching staff.
The idea was to merely hold on for awhile, yet they won their division by seven games.
The players deserve credit, but the stabiizing force was the manager. This was Mike Scioscia's best job of a distinguished career.
The Angels will be judged, as all major league teams are, by how they do in the playoffs. They begin at home next week against the Boston Red Sox, who eliminated them last season. That evaluation is for another time.
For now, we can conclude that Scioscia's offensive approach, which is emphasizing speed and aggressive baserunning, foes mihjty well.
The Angels have been criticized for lacking power and using speedy singles hitters over young players with power, but it's hard to argue with the results.
A classic moment occurred this season when all nine hitters in the Angels' lineup had batting averages of .300 and above,
The Angels put constant pressure on opposing pitchers and competed well against opponents with more power. Over the years with Scioscia as manager they've stood up well to the Yankees, who spend a lot of free agent money on power hitters.
Once the course of the season the Angels' pitching improved and they go into the playoffs with their big names all healthy. John lackey will be one of the starters as he probably completes his Angels' career. He's becoming a free agent and appears out of the Angels' spending range.
Second baseman Howie Kendrick was sent to the minors following a puzzling early season slump but returned to have the best batting average in the American League from that day forward.
Scioscia rotated Kendrick with Maizer Izturis and Eric Aybar at second and shortstop and received production from all of them. Another speedster, third baseman Chone Figgins, was a catalyst of the offense and became outstanding defensively.
Vladimir Guerrero had injury problems but remains the Angels' cleanup hitter. First baseman Kendry Morales converted potential unto production in his first season as an every day player and newcomers Torri Hunter and Bobby Abreu provided quality play and veteran leadership.
Abreu was a bargain as a free agent but signed for only one year, so it's important that the angels sign him again.