When Angels were initially rallied for the 2020 season in February, the team’s greatest strength was its offensive ability.
Star line-up featuring Mike Trout star, not even a month since receiving the MVP third trophy. It includes the fully healthy Shohei Ohtani for the first time since 2018.
And between them is Anthony Rendon, who just won the 2019 World Series with Washington Nationals and signed a $ 245 million contract to play in Anaheim for seven years.
Six months passed, after the spring training was shut down and a monthly hiatus due to an outbreak of coronavirus. The three players still make up the core of the Angel’s batting order. And they’re producing very different results for a team that ranks worst in offensive production.
Trout has gone home four times in the first four games he has played after becoming a dad and has a on-basis slip rate of 0.928. Ohtani again polished the sky but is more prominent than ever.
Then came Rendon, having had the worst 12 start of his career. As his streak spanned 28 appearances in Sunday’s 7-3 defeat to Texas Rangers, Rendon’s hitting average dropped to 0.13.
In the past six years playing for the National team, the only time Rendon beat 0.265 in 12 matches was in 2015.
This season, Rendon has had four hits in 39 shots, including a brace and a hit, and he has beaten 12 times. Highlights in his strike line: 14 dribbles.
Rendon is the only Angel to have at least 50 appearances below the 0.60 mark, alongside Justin Upton, who was transferred to a platoon last week.
Manager Joe Maddon does not assume that Rendon is feeling the pressure to get his deal right, the largest freelance agency contract awarded by owner Arte Moreno.
“He’s got that slow heartbeat,” Maddon said, referring to Rendon’s signature composure in front of the plate. “He looks like me.”
Instead, Maddon suspects Rendon’s Angels’ boring start to a career could be attributed to the mismatch of the 2020 season.
“I’m looking at his work and it looks good,” Maddon said. “You talk to Anthony, no BS. It’s always straightforward and it will be difficult for him to hide his feelings. So he feels better. I know the results are still out. …. He still accepts his move, which I really love. He doesn’t have to be open. He just missed his pitch. “
Believe it or not, Rendon just needs to adjust its timing at disk. Rendon is kicking the ball at 26.9 degrees. Generally, a launch angle of 25 to 30 degrees correlates with an improved power count – but only if the batter can connect his club barrel to the ball. Rendon struggled to find that sweet spot.
Maddon said over the weekend that Angels coaches had come up with a solution to Rendon’s attention but he did not make it clear. Whatever it is, that hint does not help the Angels avoid a mass sweep by Rangers.
Rendon defeats three of his nine bats in Arlington, Texas. He has worked many times. The six pitches he put into play were handled with ease by defenders. Only one – the ball flew in Sunday’s sixth inning to the center ground where advanced basic runner Ohtani, who doubled the lead against Rendon and eventually scored in Angels’ third inning – overtook out in the yard.
Hours earlier, the Angels reassigned the bats in the squad to avoid stacking four left-handed players who started the series last Sunday. Rendon is 5th in batting order for the first time since 2017.
This move does not change the fortune of the Angels. They have been unsuccessful in eight matches with runners-up in scoring position. They left nine bases.
Issues go beyond Rendon. But he’s an important piece of the puzzle Maddon believes the Angels will assemble properly.
“We haven’t put the whole game together yet,” he said. “And that’s part of the reason why I feel pretty good about it.”