By Tommy Rancel //
Biggest Surprise: Hideki Matsui
When Godzilla left the Bronx, no one knew how he would adjust to losing Yankee Stadium as his home park. Matsui answered those questions by hitting a solid .274/.361/.459. His batting average and on-base percentage were nearly identical to the numbers he posted in 2009 (.274/.367). As expected, his slugging dropped from .509 to .459, but he still hit 21 home runs while driving in 84, giving fantasy owners who trusted their utility slot to Matsui a lift.
Biggest Bust: Brandon Wood
Once a top prospect in the Angels’ system, Wood, 25, got his first real chance to start in 2010. He responded by putting up one of the worst offensive seasons in baseball. Over 81 games, he “hit” .146/.174/.208 with four home runs and 14 RBI. Making matters even worse, Wood showed no plate discipline or pitch recognition. He walked less than 3% of the time while striking out more than 30%. Of the swings he took, nearly 15% ended up in a whiff. There is still time for him to improve, but don’t hold your breath waiting.
2011 Keeper Alert: Mike Napoli
Mike Scioscia’s fetish for catching defense over offensive production pushed Napoli out of the Angels’ lineup more often than not at the beginning of the season. However, after injuries to Jeff Mathis and then Kendry Morales, Napoli found his way into a career-best 140 games. In those games, he hit .238/.316/.468 with a career-high 26 home runs; those 26 homers led all catcher-eligible players. With Morales coming back to man first next season, Napoli is likely to hit another 20-plus bombs with catcher eligibility next season. He should also see a boost in batting average with some simple BABIP regression.
2011 Regression Alert: Erick Aybar
Aybar was a pleasant surprise in 2009 when he hit .312 with 37 extra-base hits for Los Angeles. In 2010, he hit just .253 with 27 XBH, despite 30 more at-bats. In June, Aybar dealt with a knee injury and his season was cut short in mid-September due to a sports hernia. In addition to the injuries, Aybar’s BABIP was nearly 20 points less than his career number. This is due in part to a decline in line drives hit. He has hit 17% liners in his career, but managed just 15.3% this year. A healthy, luckier Aybar would make for a nice late-round pick in deeper leagues, with multi-position eligibility next season.
For more on Mike Napoli and the Los Angeles Angels lineup, check out Bloomberg Sports’ Fantasy Kits