The LA Angels were not a great team last season. They lacked a lot of components to make them great, but a big reason they stuttered throughout the year was a consistent lineup. Marwin Gonzalex can fix that in 2019, and should be atop the Halos’ free agency shopping list.
The LA Angels have been watching the Dodgers use players like Chris Taylor as a Swiss Army knife for years now. They’ve never had a player who can seemingly play every position outside of pitcher and catcher. However, this offseason gives them a chance to change that in the form of Marwin Gonzalez.
After a breakout year in 2017, where Gonzalez slashed .303/.377/.530 while playing six positions, he regressed into a line of .247/.324/.409 in 2018 while playing all seven positions he could. This versatility kept him in the lineup everyday for the Astros, and he rewarded them with solid fielding across the board.
While Gonzalez did take a step back last year, he would still be a welcome addition to the team under new manager Brad Ausmus. The 29-year old hits from both sides of the plate, but is much better against left-handed pitching that right-handed pitching. This makes him a possible platoon option for a few positions, and makes the Angels all the better because of it.
In the World Series this year, we saw the Dodgers and Red Sox both use platoon’s heavily for the bottom of their lineups. If the Angels hope to get back to the postseason, this strategy could be very beneficial with the new “probability-based” managing we can expect under Ausmus.
Despite being right-handed, Albert Pujols performed better against right-handed pitchers in each of the past two seasons. That makes Gonzalez a strong candidate to play first should a left-handed pitcher start the game. Kole Calhoun has been better against righties throughout his career, so the Halos could plug Gonzalez into right field on days where a south paw takes the mound.
And on days Gonzalez doesn’t start, he can practically pinch-hit for any player and fill into their defensive role admirably. Despite the poor 2018 season, there is reason to believe Gonzalez can bounce back in 2019, and he has hit well against the AL West throughout his career.
The Angels need to embrace the new era of probability and platooning, as they don’t have enough hitters who play well no matter what arm the pitcher throws with. Marwin Gonzalez would be a great start for that movement, and should be the Angels’ top target in terms of hitters this offseason.