When the Los Angeles Angels announced that they had signed Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson during the offseason, many Angels’ fans rejoiced and were ready for the World Series parade in 2012. Now I say many because I know that there are some educated fans in California who know that the addition of two players doesn’t guarantee success when you take a closer look at the numbers.
Many pundits will say that yes, Pujols and Wilson solidify it. The Angels have the better starting rotation and Albert’s bat will help score more runs.
But do the Angels really have the better starting staff? Spout out names like Dan Haren, Jered Weaver and Ervin Santana, and add C.J. Wilson then it sure does seem like it. But one look at the stats and you’ll find that the Rangers had the better starting rotation last season. The ERA of the main five starters (Wilson, Colby Lewis, Derek Holland, Matt Harrison and Alexi Ogando) was a combined 3.63 with a 1.241 WHIP. The Angels starting rotation had a combined 3.76 ERA against a 1.272 WHIP. With Wilson added to the staff, and the losses of Joel Piñeiro and Tyler Chatwood, Bill James has projected the Angels to repeat their 3.76 ERA.
Unfortunately, Bill James projected Neftali Feliz as a closer and has yet to release projections on Yu Darvish so I turned to ZiPS (Feliz) and Fangraphs (Darvish) to complete the projected ERA of the Texas Rangers starters in 2012 and it adds up to a combined 3.61. So Texas comes out on top once again.
And when you look at the bullpen there is no doubt that the Texas Rangers back end with Alexi Ogando, Mike Adams, and Joe Nathan is better than the combo of LaTroy Hawkins, Scott Downs and Jordan Walden, especially if Nathan returns to all-star form.
Now what about the offense? Last year the Angels outscored their opponents 667-633 which is a +34 run differential. The Rangers ran over the competition by an 855-677 margin. That’s a +178 run difference and 188 more total runs than the Angels. Pujols scored 115 runs last year. That’s still not enough. When you take into account that Bobby Abreu is practically running on fumes, Torii Hunter has seen his average and on-base percentage decline the past three seasons and Vernon Wells needs the mother of all comebacks, it’s clear that they are not as complete offensively as Texas.
Both teams have questions to address as well. When will Mike Trout and Leonys Martin become permanent fixtures for each team? What more can be done to strengthen the respective bullpens? Is Yu Darvish going to live up to the hype? Will C.J. Wilson be okay with being a number three or four starter?
Only time will tell. And the 2012 season is still extremely young. But for now, the cards are stacked in the favor of the Texas Rangers.
I would like to thank the geniuses at baseball-reference.com and fangraphs.com for all of the wonderful statistics.