If you’ve flown between John Wayne airport and Salt Lake City at any point this season, your odds of bumping into an Angels player are pretty high. The Angels have been busy burning a path from Anaheim to their Triple-A affiliate, having used 36 batters and 20 pitchers this season — both tied for second in the league.
For what it’s worth, Aybar, Bourjos and Kendrick were all among the top 25 sacrifice bunters in the American League last year. Iannetta seems an unlikely choice, though his patience and power are above average for a catcher, while Trumbo has the best chance of replicating Hunter’s .313/.365/.451 slash line from a year ago.
Perhaps unwittingly, FanGraphs.com makes a strong endorsement today for Callaspo, who signed a two-year contract yesterday. Callaspo’s best skill at the plate – hitting to contact while avoiding strikeouts – is typically the skill that managers value most in their number-two hitter:
Even in his best years with the bat (2009 and 2011) his BABIP was only around .310. But avoiding strikeouts does a lot for a player’s bat. This is not because strikeouts are all that much different from regular outs. It is because putting the ball in play simply allows other things to happen. Callaspo does not get an exceptional number of hits on balls in play, and the hits he does get on contact usually do not go very far. He simply ends plate appearances with the ball going into play often enough that even given average (and below-average) rates of favorable outcomes, he is able to be close to average overall as a hitter (95 wRC+ career).
It’s something to think about as Spring Training approaches.
Which defunct ballpark, and which former National League MVP’s reputation, are getting blown up? Read on …
Alberto Callaspo signed a two-year deal worth approximately $9 million Tuesday, leaving the Angels’ expected opening-day lineup under contract for the next two seasons.
Callaspo will earn $4.1 million next season and $4.88 million in 2014, the first year he was eligible to become a free agent. The 29-year-old batted .252 with 10 home runs and 53 RBIs in 2012, proving his worth mostly in the field. After the Angels briefly experimented with Mark Trumbo at third base, Callaspo was handed the starting job early in the season and turned in a .963 fielding percentage at third base – fifth in the American League.
A switch hitter, Callaspo moved up and down an ever-changing lineup in 2012. This year he may be the weak link but the Angels will probably take another year of .250 so long as Callaspo’s glove remains steady.