It's Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton, but it's not just Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton.
There’s no Grand Theory here. I just keep getting asked—by people at church, family members, Ben—why the Angels have been so bad, and I just stutter a bunch of stuff about Albert Pujols’ legs, and Josh Hamilton’s slump, and Jered Weaver’s injury, and small samples. But it’s not just Albert Pujols’ legs, or Josh Hamilton’s slump, or Jered Weaver’s injury. Or even small samples. Of the 14 players who had starting jobs with the Angels on Opening Day—the nine regulars, and the five members of the starting rotation—11 are underperforming their PECOTA projections. Of the three who aren’t, Mike Trout is perceived as underperforming, and Peter Bourjos might soon be underperforming, as he sits on the DL and waits as games pass him by. And this doesn’t even include the bullpen, which has the American League’s 13th-best ERA, despite a pitcher’s park and a good group of defenders behind it.
So if somebody says it’s because of Hamilton, push back. If they say it’s because of Pujols, argue! It’s nearly the whole team, and this is simply an accounting of how it’s the whole team:
I'm dumb, so when I see something like the Angels falling nine games out of first place after 31 games, I think "welp, that'll do it then." And then when I look at the playoff odds and see that they're still 20 percent likely to make the playoffs, I'm surprised. I understand the mechanisms at work -- the Angels are probably a good team, and so the odds expect them to play like a good team going forward -- but it's impossible to imagine any team making up an 11-20 stretch. It's impossible to imagine it because I'm dumb. It shouldn't be that hard to imagine.
On Sunday, Albert Pujols sat out. The Angels are off Monday, so he'll get the two-day rest, after which, Mike Scioscia says, the Angels will "see where he is Tuesday." Which might just mean "we'll see if he feels better Tuesday." Or if might mean "we'll see where he is Tuesday, as we decide what to do about this." The team "stepped up" his treatment Saturday. Poor guy keeps trying, keeps being hard to watch, keeps being in a lot of pain.
Reviewing Kazmir's performance in his first victory since 2010.
On Saturday, Scott Kazmir and the Indians faced Joe Mauer and the Twins. Kazmir was looking for his first victory since 2010, and he got it. Mauer was looking to break out of a 4-for-38 stretch that had dropped his OBP nearly 100 points. He reached base twice, but only once against Kazmir, and with weak contact.
For three seasons, Scott Kazmir and Joe Mauer shared space at the top of prospect lists. From 2003 to 2005, Kazmir ranked 11th, 12th, and seventh on Baseball America’s lists, while Mauer was fourth, first, and first. Each player debuted in 2004; each started the 2005 season on a major-league roster, and each had a strong rookie season—though Kazmir (3.7 WARP) finished just ninth in Rookie of the Year voting, behind Jesse Crain, while Mauer (3.0 WARP) received no votes, behind Jesse Crain. They faced off in three games through 2008, with each player demonstrating some of his signature skill: Mauer banged out three line drive singles in 10 trips to the plate, while Kazmir struck out Mauer, one of baseball’s toughest tasks, three times.
The rest of this article is restricted to Baseball Prospectus Subscribers.
Not a subscriber?
Click here for more information on Baseball Prospectus subscriptions or use the buttons to the right to subscribe and get access to the best baseball content on the web.
What assorted still images suggest about how baseball is played.
It’s the year 3030.
Good morning, and welcome to the International Conference On Reverse Engineering The Rules Of 21st Century Recreational Activities. I’ll be leading this breakout session on a sport called baseball, one of the most popular recreational activities of the era. Much writing about the sport exists from the era, but most of it is vague and mawkish, describing the sport’s qualities in the abstract but offering few specifics. That means that we know, for instance, that baseball has quote no clock, no ties and no Liberal intrusions into the organized progression end quote, but we have never known whether it is played on land or in air, what equipment is needed for it, how a victor is determined, or why anybody would watch it. Now, for the first time, we can answer those questions. A recent cache of photos, the only images known to exist from the era, has recently been discovered. We believe that these images provide all the information necessary to recreate America’s Past Time. Break out the skunks, everybody. It’s time to play baseball!
Ben and Sam discuss whether a pitcher's body language can cost him strikes, whether it's worth trading for relievers early in the season, a study about perceptions of steroid use, and whether a low BABIP is always unlucky.