7-15, & the numbers that come with it …
The Angels (and their $155 million payroll) head into the opener of a seven-game homestand, the first of a three-game series against the Twins and the finale of an ugly April with the fourth-worst record in the Major Leagues and a nine-game deficit of the Rangers in the American League West, where they also trail the Mariners and Athletics each by 5 1/2 games — two teams whose combined payrolls are $137 million.
They went 1-5 in their recent road trip through St. Petersburg, Fla., and Cleveland, have dropped six of their last seven overall, have tied the worst record in franchise history to start a season (also in 1976) and will finish April having won back-to-back games only once. They haven’t done that in any single month since July 1998, and only three other times in their history, according to Stats LLC. They dropped six of their first seven series, with four of those losses coming against teams that finished no better than 15 games out of first place last season (the Royals, Twins, Athletics and Indians).
The rotation, at least, has begun to improve the way we would’ve all expected, posting a 2.62 ERA in the club’s last 13 games while going at least six innings in 12 of those. But the bullpen can’t hold any leads and the offense can’t score any numbers. Yeah, it’s still only April (barely), but the Angels have the look of a team that isn’t taking these early struggles lightly. They’ve released Bobby Abreu, called up Mike Trout, designated Rich Thompson for assignment, called up David Carpenter and replaced (at least temporarily) Jordan Walden with Scott Downs in the ninth inning.
The numbers (warning: some of this material may not be suitable for younger readers) …
- 0: That, of course, is the amount of home runs Albert Pujols has hit through his first 88 at-bats of the season, by far his longest stretch to start any campaign. He averaged 14.2 at-bats per home runs through his 11 seasons in St. Louis, and his career-high at-bat streak in one season is 105, done April 24 to May 22 of last year.
- 0: That’s the amount of multi-hit games Pujols has had since his three-double game of April 19. That’s a stretch of nine games, which saw him post a career-high streak of five consecutive starts without a hit and see his slash line drop from .296/.333/.426 to, now, .216/.266/.295.
- 10: The combined number of walks and RBIs for Pujols through his first 22 games (four RBIs, six walks), which is three less than the amount of strikeouts (13).
- 40.3: The percentage of pitches out of the strike zone that Pujols has swung at so far, which would easily represent a career high, according to FanGraphs.com. Prior to last year (31.8 percent), Pujols had never swung at more than 30 percent of pitches out of the zone in any given season. He’s batting .204 with two strikes and, perhaps more worrisome, 21 of his 94 plate appearances (or, 22.3 percent) have begun with an 0-2 count — perhaps a sign that he’s still feeling out all the new pitchers he’s facing, which brings us to …
- 14: The amount of starting pitchers Pujols faced for the first time this season (out of 22). Not an excuse, but probably part of the reason for his struggles — and those of the offense in general.
- 9: That’s the amount of runs the Angels scored in their just-completed road trip, which saw them average just over five hits per game and go a combined 4-for-30 with runners in scoring position.
- 4: The amount of times the Angels have been shutout.
- 1-12: The Angels’ record when scoring three runs or less.
- 23: The exact number of teams that are ahead of the Angels in terms of: runs per game (3.45), OPS (.642), slugging percentage (.352) and stolen bases (10).
- .230: The Angels’ batting average with runners in scoring position, good for 12th in the AL — ahead of only the division-rival A’s and Mariners.
- 6: The amount of losses the relievers have compiled, which is tied with the last-place Royals for first in the Majors. (What? You thought the bullpen was safe from this?)
- 1: The amount of save chances Walden had (within five appearances) before serving up the two-run, walk-off homer that stripped him of his job on Thursday — game No. 19.
- 1.49: The bullpen’s WHIP, which ranks 23rd in the Majors.
- 1.52: The bullpen’s strikeout-to-walk ratio, which is tied for second-to-last in the Majors (with a Marlins team of similar preseason hype).
Fun, right? …