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The Angels Outfield is Suddenly Elite

The Angels outfield core has a 167 wRC+, a combined 3.0 fWAR, and a .396 wOBA so far this season. Those all lead the league when it comes to outfield groups except for the fWAR, where they are tied for third. Not only that, but they also lead the league in ISO and are second in OBP. It is safe to expect a group with Mike Trout in it to have some good numbers, but this level of success is surprising and has played a massive role in the Angels early season success. Brandon Marsh has put up a 125 wRC+, plays great defense and runs extremely well on the bases. Perhaps the story of the season for the Angels so far has been the hot start of Taylor Ward that has led to him now batting leadoff. Ward has an absurd 248 wRC+ and an OBP of .476. He also looks very good in right field for a guy that has bounced around all over the diamond looking for a position that he can earn playing time at. Ward and Marsh have been so good that former top prospect Jo Adell was only playing against lefties before being sent down to the minors recently. On top of that, Mike Trout is reminding people that he is still comfortably the best player in baseball. The Angels corner outfielders are due for regression and struggles, but there are signs that this outfield can be one of the very best in baseball this season.

Taylor Ward deserves all the hype he is getting and more. Of course, he will not sustain a .422 BABIP or a .511 wOBA, but Ward does seem to be a legit hitter for this lineup. One of the most promising signs so far has been his plate discipline. Ward has just a 20.3 O-Swing% so far this season where the average typically hovers around 30%. He also has a 15.7% barrel rate so far, which has helped his ISO sit at .353. All these stats can quickly regress closer to average given that they are in just an 82 plate appearance sample so far, but Ward also had 237 plate appearances last season and put up a 111 wRC+. Ward looks extremely comfortable at the plate right now and is reading everything. His swing also looks the best it has in his whole career by quite a bit.

via @bmags94

The fact that Ward is good enough to not be chasing while also crushing the ball when he swings is a pretty hopeful sign for the rest of the season. Michael Lorenzen recently said that Ward puts up some of the best at bats he has ever seen. Joe Maddon has decided to bat him leadoff in a lineup that consists of guys such as Trout, Rendon, and Ohtani. Maddon gets his criticism, and rightfully so most of the time, but that move is working out and he should continue to ride the hot bat.

Brandon Marsh has long been an exciting prospect that had a really good chance at being an impact player. We knew he could run the bases and knew how to play very good defense in the outfield. He came up last year and put up just a 86 wRC+ in 260 plate appearances, but was still a solid contributor thanks to the other tools just mentioned. What he is doing this season at the plate should have Angel fans extremely excited. He is putting up a 125 wRC+ and has a .325 OBP. He has had a problem with strikeouts lately after improving that area to start the season, but he has plenty of time to improve the K rate. Marsh has always felt like a guy that would be a solid contributor even if he hovered around a 105-110ish wRC+ his whole career, but if he can stay in the 120 wRC+ range he will have a huge impact on this club. Sure, he still has struggles with swinging and missing, but that is expected for a young hitter. Most of his problems have been against breaking balls, where he owns a 50% whiff rate and a .164 wOBA. Marsh is a better hitter than that, so it would be surprising to see that not improve. The Angels have long been searching for young, reliable players that can do multiple things well and Brandon Marsh fits that description perfectly. 

The odd man out is clearly Jo Adell, who was just optioned down to Triple-A to get regular playing time. Adell has been a mixed bag in his young career. He has had just a 1.5% walk rate and a 36.4 strikeout rate so far, which is a pretty bad sign. But at the same time, he is chasing a little less and still barrels the ball very often when he does hit it. The only really frustrating thing about watching him develop has been his horrible defense. Adell looks like he still has no feel in the outfield, which is just odd considering his physical tools and the time he has had to fix that problem by now. He is super athletic and a quick mover, but his reads on balls are still just not there. Nevertheless, Adell still has the tools and needs at-bats if they want him to get close to his actual potential. The Angels need to get him at-bats so they can either develop him or hope he shows enough where he can at least bring back a good arm by the trade deadline, and right now that is looking like a tall task with the performances of Marsh and Ward.

The Angels are 17-10 with a +27 run differential so far this season. The Mike Trout success was obviously expected, but the rest of the outfield core putting up these numbers has played a huge role in this success. The rotation has been solid and the bullpen has showed flashes, but this team is built around its offense. The Angels outfield should start being mentioned among some the best as Ward and Marsh continue to prove themselves to be legit. Combine that outfield with a healthy Anthony Rendon and Jared Walsh, and the Angels lineup is finally starting to look both dangerous and deep. As the sample sizes for Ward and Marsh get larger, the production should still be there to give the Angels a truly elite outfield core that will be in Anaheim for quite some time.

Featured photo: @Angels on Twitter

Grant Carver

Writer mainly focusing on Angels baseball. Indiana University class of 2022. Majoring in Sport Management/Marketing, Minoring in Computer Science. Find me on Twitter @GrantCarver32

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