TEMPE, Ariz. -- Patience.
|On a team with a lot of free swingers, Vladimir Guerrero is king. (AP)|
Then came the second month of the 2004 season.
"And I got more letters," Hatcher says. "And then they were all saying, 'You've got to keep letting him swing!'"
There are many phrases you might hear if you hang around manager Mike Scioscia's Angels long enough during the course of a season. "A walk is as good as a hit" probably won't be one of them.
In an American League West containing the calculating and picky Oakland Athletics in one corner, the Angels are the undisciplined cousin who lives life by impulse.
In an AL West in which the Athletics have enjoyed great success by choosing pitches with more care and selection than your grandmother uses in picking out eggs at the supermarket, the Angels last year ranked 14th -- last -- in the league in walks.
"Obviously, the Moneyball theory works for some people," first baseman Darin Erstad says. "Our theory is, put the ball in play, put pressure on the other team and run the bases aggressively. I love that style.
"Does it fall into what the stats that people look at? No. But we produce wins. That's the bottom line."
The Angels share a belief with the Athletics in the importance of on-base percentage. But they do not share a belief with Oakland that walks are an integral part of boosting it.
While the Angels ranked 14th in the AL and 28th in baseball last year with 450 walks, Oakland was third in the AL and fifth in the majors with 608.
Yet, in on-base percentage, while Oakland ranked fifth in the AL and ninth in the majors at .343, the Angels were right with them -- sixth in the AL and 13th in the majors at .341. And on the final weekend of the season, the Swingin' Angels won the first two games of a series in Oakland to steal the division title.