The Los Angeles Angels seem to have some sort of curse against big-name signings, which could potentially impact the newest Angel, Anthony Rendon.
The Los Angeles Angels should be extremely grateful that they hit a home run in drafting Mike Trout and that he decided to become a lifetime Angel as a lot of the team’s other moves have been frustrating, to say the least.
The Los Angeles Angels have this troubling trend of signing guys right when they are set for a decline in their careers. It has become such a trend at this point that it feels like a legitimate curse, as every big signing seems to backfire.
And there have been a lot. It is not like the Angels messed up with one or two bad contracts, there is a track record of players going to the Angels and being shells of their former selves.
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It started with Vernon Wells. The Angels traded Mike Napoli and Juan Rivera in exchange for Wells, which is not too bad. The problem was the money that the Angels were taking on as the team had to pay for the majority of the last four seasons of Wells’ inflated, awful contract.
One season after being an all-star, Wells hit .218 with the Los Angeles Angels in 2011. He played 77 games in 2012 and hit .230 before being traded to the New York Yankees prior to the 2013 season.
Nothing but wasted money.
Albert Pujols is one of the Angels’ most successful signing and that is really saying something. The Angels signed Pujols to a 10-year, $240 million contract and Pujols’ production instantly dipped. He did have one all-star year in 2015 but has not posted an OPS above .800 since his first season as an Angel.
Pujols has been worth 13.7 WAR in his eight seasons with the Angels. The Angels are paying $14 million for every win above replacement that Pujols adds to the team.
We all know how bad the Josh Hamilton signing was, how overpaid Justin Upton now is and how big of a dumpster fire Zack Cozart was in Anaheim. Cozart went from an all-star to one of the 10-worst hitters in the league.
Even Shohei Ohtani, who is electric and has probably already accomplished more than every other signing besides Pujols, has his injury concerns and did not pitch for most of 2018 and all of 2019 because of injury.
So, will Anthony Rendon follow this same fate? Will he magically be half the player he once was just because he is an Angel? Will he also be another sore spot on the books?
The answer is probably not.
The one concern I would have is that Rendon does not reach what he reached in 2019 and is not an MVP finalist again, which is fine. The Angels do not need Rendon to be an MVP finalist and even if 2019 was his best season ever, he still has several more exciting years left in him.
First of all, the one thing that Rendon has that none of those other signings had is youth. Rendon is not a young superstar, but he is turning 30 this season and, at the very least, should have another three years of his prime window.
It is what Rendon does and what makes him good that makes him a non-threat for a significant drop-off, though.
Rendon is not this power hitter that relies on pitcher’s mistakes and is not a one-year breakout like Cozart. He is someone who certainly has pop in his swing, but excels in making contact and driving the ball from gap to gap.
Rendon led the National League in doubles last season and had excellent walk and strikeout rates. Rendon ranked in the top nine percent of the league in strikeout rate, striking out 13.3 percent of the time, while walking 12.4 percent of the time.
To put that into perspective, Alex Bregman was the only other player in the league last season with at least 600 plate appearances, 80 or more walks and 86 or fewer strikeouts. Since 2010, this kind of season has only happened 13 times.
Even if the power numbers slightly dip, which would lead to the slugging and OPS dipping, Rendon is someone who rarely strikes out, excels at putting the ball in play and simply getting on base. With Mike Trout batting behind him, pitchers are going to HAVE to pitch to Rendon, which should lead to favorable results.
Angel fans can safely expect Rendon to hit .300 with 25 home runs, 90 RBIs and 100 runs scored. That would be considered down from last season, and still would be elite.
So no: Anthony Rendon is not going to fall victim to the same curse that has hit every other big Los Angeles Angels signing, we don’t have to worry about that.