The Top 5 Surprises For LA Angels In The 2016 Season

A week ago we look at the LA Angels top five busts of this season.  Those players who made that list performed below their expectations.  Now we will take a look at the players who far exceeded expectations this year.

Despite a less than exemplary season the LA Angels had a number of players perform better than expected.  We are looking at these players who helped the team keep it together despite a plethora of injuries.  We are going to examine each player in-depth.

The Angels had many players who did well, but you will not see some of them in this slide show.  What is the focus is those who did better than expected.  Example:  Mike Trout had a very good season and should be the MVP of the American League.  However, we expect this from Mike Trout.  On the same token Albert Pujols had another solid season, but he did make our list for the same reason as Trout.  We expect this from Albert.  So without any further adieu here are the players who made the list.

LA Angels

Los Angeles Angels shortstop Andrelton Simmons (2) catches a hit by Toronto Blue Jays catcher Dioner Navarro (30) for the final out of the game Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports.

#5 Andrelton Simmons – .281 AVG.  4 HR 44 RBI’s  10 SB

Andrelton Simmons had an outstanding first season despite missing five weeks with a thumb injury.  Simmons was said to be an amazing defender and if you watched him play this season he was as good as advertised.  Simmons displayed excellent glove work and he also showed an incredible arm.  He has been nominated for a Gold Glove at shortstop, which would be the third of his four-year career in the majors.

However, what put Simmons on the list as one of the biggest surprises was his bat.  Simmons hit a career-high .281 with four homers and 44 RBI’s.  He also stole 10 bases for the first time in his career. If Simmons continues this trend over the next couple of seasons he could make his first all-star team.

Simmons was acquired by the Angels from the Atlanta Braves in exchange for veteran shortstop Erick Aybar and pitching prospect Sean Newcomb.  It seemed like it was a hefty price to pay, but so far Simmons has shown he is well worth what the Angels gave up for him. Just ask the Angels pitching staff if it was worth it for the Angels to acquire Simmons.

LA Angels

Los Angeles Angels first baseman Jefry Marte (19) hits a grand slam against the Oakland Athletics in the fourth inning during the game Mandatory Credit: Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

Jefry  Marte Infielder – .252 avg.  15 HR’s  44 RBI’s

Jefry Marte was acquired in the off-season last year from the Detroit Tigers in exchange for infielder Cody Eaves.  He showed signs during the Spring Training hitting two homers and driving in nine runs with a .292 batting average.

Marte did not make the club out of Spring Training though, but he was not on the opening day roster when the Angels broke camp.  Marte finally got the call in mid-May albeit a short trip as Marte only played in four games before being sent back down to the minors for a week.  When Marte was recalled from Triple-A Salt Lake and was never sent down again.

In his debut Marte went 2 for 4 with two doubles.  On May 31st after being recalled the day before Marte went four for four with a double and his first major league home run.  Marte then slumped dropping to .250 after hitting only .203 in June.  He still hit three homers and drove in nine runs.

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With Marte down to a season low .242 going into August, Marte got hot hitting .290with five homers and 13 runs batted in to raise his batting average to .258 at the end of the month.  Marte was playing first base a lot in late July and early August due to C.J. Cron‘s hand injury.  He also played some third base when Yunel Escobar went off with a concussion.

In the final couple of months of the season Marte played a lot of left field especially after Daniel Nava and Craig Gentry were released.  Overall Marte was an unsung hero for the Angels and should be a key part of the team in 2016.  He was definitely one of the few bright spots.

Los Angeles Angels

Los Angeles Angels relief pitcher Deolis Guerra (54) pitches against the Oakland Athletics during the seventh inning. Mandatory Credit: Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

Deolis Guerra  – 3-0 Record, 3.21 ERA 1.11 WHIP 53.1 IP 36 K’s 7 Walks

Deolis Guerra was a Rule 5 pick that the Angels took last winter from the Pittsburgh Pirates.  He was supposed to stay in the Majors all season or risk being given back to the Pirates for only $50,000.  The Angels did not put Guerra on the Opening Day roster so he was put on waivers.  When no one claimed him Guerra was sent outright to Triple-A Salt Lake City.

However, with the Angels pitching staff having so many injuries Guerra was quickly called up to Anaheim in mid-May and he was never to return to Salt Lake. Guerra started out poorly, but then was lights out in June sporting a 1.17 ERA in June which was important as the Angels had both Huston Street and Joe Smith go down with injuries during that time as well as Cory Rasmus.

What was even more impressive was Guerra’s control as he walked only three batters in  32 games through the end of August.  He ended the month with a 2.72 ERA and a 0.86 WHIP with 30 strikeouts.  Opponents batted only .211 against Guerra during that time.

The last month of the season did not go as well for Guerra as he recorded a 5.79 ERA with a 2.36 WHIP and opponents hit .400 against him that month.  However, Guerra still ended up with a 3.21 ERA and 1.11 WHIP and only seven walks.  If not for him and our #1 surprise (you will find out who that is later) the Angels bullpen would have totally collapsed.

Los Angeles Angels

Los Angeles Angels third baseman Yunel Escobar (0) ties the game with a two run home run during the ninth inning. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

#2 Yunel Escobar –    .304 Avg.  5 HR  39 RBI  .355 OBP

Yunel Escobar was acquired during the off-season for reliever Trevor Wall.  Some people were skeptical as he had only had one really good year in his career.  However, Escobar was able to follow a stellar 2015 season with another strong season in 2016.

The best thing about Escobar is that he filled two big holes that had plagued the Angels for a number of years.  A good lead-off hitter and a reliable third baseman. In April Escobar hit .282 with three homers and seven RBI’s.  Escobar continued in May hitting .330 to raise his average to .306 for the season.

Escobar continued in June and July batting .332 over that period to raise his average to .322.  The only thing that was lacking was his power as Escobar did not hit a homer from May until September.  Despite his lack of power his getting on base and driving in big runs helped the Angels to win many games.

One of Escobar’s biggest moments came on September 23rd at Houston when he hit a one-out game tying two-run homer in an Angels comeback 10-6 victory.  Escobar also hit a big home run that tied the game against Texas on September 11th and one inning later Andrelton Simmons hit a solo shot to give the Angels a 3-2 victory over the Rangers.

The Angels today exercised their club option for seven million dollars on Escobar so most  likely we will see him again at the hot corner, barring a trade during this off-season. Great job Yunel!!!

Now onto #1 on the list.

Los Angeles Angels

Los Angeles Angels relief pitcher Cam Bedrosian (68) pitches against the Oakland Athletics during the ninth inning Mandatory Credit: Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

#1 Cam Bedrosian-   2-0 record 1.12 ERA 1.09 WHIP  OPP. AVG .207

Cam Bedrosian was the most pleasant surprise for the Angels in 2016.  The team had but given up on Bedrosian after two less than stellar seasons.  Bedrosian pitched very well during Spring Training and claimed the final roster spot on the last day before the season.

Bedrosian’s time in Anaheim only lasted a week before he was sent down to Triple-A Salt Lake City.  However, when he was called up at the end of April Bedrosian put together a string of 38 innings where he only gave up three earned runs.  This included not giving up a run in all of June and July.  Bedrosian helped to solidify the back end of the Angels bullpen.

Bedrosian first worked his way into the 7th inning role and then moved onto the set-up role when Joe Smith was injured. Bedrosian was promoted at the beginning of August to the closer role, but was only able to fill that role for two games.  Bedrosian converted his first big league save on August 2nd against Oakland, but then went onto the disabled list two days later after blowing a save against Oakland on August 3rd.

The injury ended up being a blood clot in Bedrosian’s arm kept him out for the remainder of the season.  Nevertheless, Bedrosian had an amazing season finishing with a 1.12 ERA in 45 games, pitching 40.2 innings striking out 51 while walking only 14. He is the closer-in-waiting for the Angels.

Bedrosian was definitely the most pleasant surprise this season for the Angels. He along with  the other four players in this posts helped make the 2016 season a little bit better for the Angels.

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