Perhaps no Angel was a better story during the shortened 2020 season than Jared Walsh.
The 2015 39th-round pick absolutely crushed it a 32-game sample (108 plate appearances). Walsh hit .293/.324/.646 with a 153 wRC+ (Weighted Runs Created Plus) and was worth 0.9 Wins Above Replacement (WAR) en route to a 7th-place finish in American League Rookie of the Year voting. He was a breath of fresh air in what was a down season for the Angels and looked to be a strong candidate to take everyday first base duties in 2021.
After a down Spring Training and not starting the first two games of the 2021 season, Walsh has done nothing but crush baseballs yet again in his first eight games of the season. In 30 plate appearances, Walsh has hit .385/.467/.808 with a 246 wRC+ and crushed three home runs, including his walk-off three-run homer on Sunday Night Baseball against the Chicago White Sox.
This is a continuation of what Jared Walsh showed last season. Through the first part of the season, Walsh is a top-20 position player by WAR (0.6) and has the sixth-best wRC+ (246) among hitters with 30 plate appearances. That wRC+ sandwiches him between teammate Mike Trout (271) and Ronald Acuña Jr. (239). That’s not bad company to be in! Dating back to last year, however, shows an even more encouraging picture. These are the best hitters by wRC+ since 2020 among hitters with at least 100 plate appearances.
Do I think Walsh is a true-talent 173 wRC+ guy? Absolutely not. Do I think he’s a legitimate everyday guy who’s shown some real offensive ability? Absolutely. What’s perhaps more encouraging is Walsh is showing even bigger improvements through the beginning of this season. While we are dealing with a small sample, plate discipline and power are generally things that stabilize quickly. In other words, it’s hard to fluke your way into what Walsh is doing so far.
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Putting this simply, Walsh is barreling up baseballs more consistently, chasing fewer pitches, and walking more. These are positive developments for someone who already showed strong power and bat-to-ball skills last year. The most notable change, in my opinion, is that drop in chase rate because it implies that he’s being more selective. That selectivity in conjunction with more barreled baseballs is an incredibly positive sign for Walsh.
There’s no reason why Walsh shouldn’t be receiving everyday reps from this point forward, whether that’s at first base or in right field with the season-ending injury to Dexter Fowler. Walsh has shown real offensive ability and will play a huge role in this lineup as lineup depth behind the superb top of the Angels order. When, if, and how much Walsh regresses remains to be seen but he has done nothing but mash since the 2020 season began. It’s time to let him rip it for a full 162-game season.
How does the undisputable fact that Walsh is a prospect out of the Angel’s farm system factor into these stats? It is scientifically impossible for him to actually be any good since he came out of the worsiest system evah and the Angels brass hates prospects. So at what point do we start negating half of his stats as a narrative penalty for being off the Halo’s farm? And how do we subtract wins from the team accordingly?
And but also, if we subtract wins from the team to balance Walsh’s career in our system against the obviously false narrative of him kicking ass (we should also do something similar with the most obviously not actually good player from our system, David Fletcher) is it possible to use the wins the Angels still need to be automatically rewarded because Mike Scioscia isn’t making bad, grit deficient in game decisions to counter balance the losses we deserve because our farm system must obviously not be capable of producing any good players?
And what do we do if it turns out Taylor Ward is good? And Max Stassi? Shouldn’t that be totally unpossible? At what point do we start to wonder if we are in the Matrix? Cause obviously we can’t actually get value from these players.
With Rendon now temporarily out of the lineup Walsh becomes even more important. He is now tasked with protecting Trout in the batting order as he is hitting cleanup tonight.
Hopefully that little extra added pressure does not effect him.
Coming into tonight’s game Walsh has an OBP of .467. He’s showing great patience at the plate and punishing pitchers when they come in with the fastball.
It is really exciting to see Jared doing this and it looks like we just might have 1B solved for the foreseeable future. This obviously would allow us to use resources to improve pitching as we would have a normally expensive position covered for peanuts…
I suppose this is where the joke, “but can he pitch?” comes in? But, seriously, though, I guess the prospects of Walsh, the other two way player, may be gone now?
Maybe we’ll see him on the mound in the next 15-1 blow out.
Nice article. In another thread we discussed the likelihood of both Walsh and Ohtani having wRC+ over 100 this year.
Let’s say Walsh comes back to Earth a bit and finishes the year with a wRC of 125. Last year Pujols was a 77. That’s a huge boost to the lineup.
Even if Ohtani comes crashing back down to Earth and ends up at 125, that’s a huge bump up from the 82 he posted last year.
This lineup is legit with those two.
Walsh also provides way more continuity in the lineup than Pujols and further protection to the big bats batting right before him. If you are a pitcher who has put a couple runners on with less than 2 outs and are facing the prospect of Trout, Rendon and then Walsh – that is scary. You have to pitch to Trout to try to get him out.
By comparison that same situation with Trout, Rendon and Pujols looks very different. In the back of your mind you are thinking that even if you walk Trout and Rendon, if you can get Pujols to hit the ball on the ground it is a sure DP. That means the pitcher feels more comfortable avoiding giving Trout and Rendon anything juicy.
Yep. Pujols just looks atrocious on offspeed pitches now. He’s clearly slowed down massively from his prime, and trying to cheat to run into a few fastballs. Any pitcher worth his salt can make him look silly with good breaking stuff. Dude’s gonna be lucky to put up 80+ wRC this year. Please keep sitting him more, Joe!
Odd thing about human nature. For years just about everyone preferred Matt Thaiss’s potential over Jared Walsh’s even though Walsh outperformed Thaiss offensively at every step of their MiLB careers and Walsh was clearly the better defender at first base. It must have been because Thaiss was drafted so far ahead of Walsh that this created such an aura that the actual play on the field had difficulty getting noticed.
Since we’re on the subject of Walsh, when he played for the 66ers, he would point his bat to the outfield before each pitch just like Thome, Erstad, and Ichiro did. I wonder why he stopped.
It’s human nature to equate more expensive with being better. The high draft pick versus the later round player is the same dynamic. As we all know, more expensive does not always equate to better.
When you hear plenty of experts talk about Thaiss great swing and how he is one of the most projectible bats in the country, Thaiss is the guy on your radar.
At least that was the case with me.
Yup. Total high-round selection bias. You’d think with the whole sabermetrics revolution of the past decade+, along with the fact that even the high-round draftees are really paid peanuts compared to a team’s annual MLB payroll… that teams would be willing to take more objective looks at all their prospects. Stop giving the bonus babies extra chances and playing time, since many will simply never develop. Give the grinders the shot… the guys like Walsh, or Rojas… who simply just hit and play at every level. Then we can stop hoping on the overhyped 1st round busts like Ward or Thaiss.
Nice write up. I’m all in on Walsh and think he can continue this production barring any injury.
Will Joe Madden recognize the obvious and permanently put Gramps to pasture?
Arte says “No.”
Injuries say not likely.
Good article, guy is ‘only’ making 500k too. Nice when we have guys like him and Fletcher on the cheap when other albertrosses exist.