Oakland Athletics vs. Los Angeles Angels 2016: Who Is The Stronger Team?
The Oakland Athletics and Los Angeles Angels are two teams who are looking to make the playoffs this year. The AL West is a surprisingly competitive division, given that each team has unique strengths and even more unique weaknesses. These two teams will face each other 19 times this year. How do the A’s match up position-by-position against their SoCal rivals? Who has the edge?
Designated Hitter: Billy Butler vs. C.J. Cron
Here are two underwhelming designated hitters. Of course, not everyone can be Nelson Cruz, David Ortiz, or Edgar Martinez. But everyone knows how much was expected of Billy Butler. Now, I predict Billy Butler will be just fine, as I pointed out in my player preview. Butler did get on base a fair amount and did hit 28 doubles, beating out C.J. Cron‘s 17.
Cron also does not know how to get on base. Butler had 52 walks and got on base to a clip of .323. Cron barely got on at a percentage of .300, walking only 17 times while striking out 82. Cron sat a lot against right-handers in the beginning of 2015, but began to hit the ball harder against them and got more playing time. Mike Scioscia, the Angels’ manager, even said about Cron in August: “C.J. has really been attacking the ball well. I think he’s definitely earned more looks than just being platooned against lefties.”
* * * * *
Catcher: Stephen Vogt vs. Carlos Perez
Stephen Vogt, an All-Star last year, faded away after the midyear break in 2015. He did hit .300 with 13 home runs through June last year. Carlos Perez, a rookie last year who primarily played in order to spell Chris Iannetta (now a Mariner), had a great September, hitting .333/.398/.440. Still, Vogt has proven he can be a great, hitter especially at his position, and Perez has a lot more to prove, playing in only 86 games last year and hitting .250.
* * * * *
First Base: Yonder Alonso vs. Albert Pujols
Yonder Alonso is a solid player who loves to get on base: he hit .282/.361/.381 last year, though as is plain to see, he does not often hit for extra bases. He does walk almost as much as he strikes out: he had 42 walks last year and 48 strikeouts.
Pujols, on the other hand, is Albert Pujols. He’s a shoo-in for the Hall of Fame. He even looked like it last year despite his advanced age: in 157 games, he hit 40 home runs, scoring 85 times and knocking in 95 RBI. Unfortunately, his on-base numbers have dropped as he is beginning to become a hitter who walks less and less: he averages 77 walks every year, though in the last three he hasn’t walked more than 50 times.
Additionally, a nagging foot injury took his productivity down at the end of last year: from August 26 to the end of the year, he hit only six home runs but batted .216 as hitters found ways to get him out. He did undergo surgery and is expected to play on Opening Day. Still, he almost always hits for at least 85 runs and 95 RBI, and if he can come close this year, he will beat out Alonso.