The hot start for the Los Angeles Angels in 2022 was initially fueled by the outstanding trio of Mike Trout, Shohei Ohtani, and the breakout of Taylor Ward. After a few seasons in the organization, Ward’s first few months during the season were among the best in Major League Baseball.
A former first-round pick of the Angels in the 2015 MLB Draft, Ward has improved each season at the big league level, posting scaled-up wRC+ numbers since 2018 through 2021 of 58, 68, 96 and 110. The now-29-year-old has spent the majority of his time as an outfielder, appearing in 134 games this past season in all three spots.
From Opening Day through May 31, Ward carried a .347/.459/.686 slash including 10 homers, 26 RBI and a wRC+ of 221. He was one of the hottest hitters in all of baseball and his explosion put the Angels among teams with as good of a top-of-the-order as any club.
But he aggravated his right hamstring in early June, which forced the Angels to put him on the shelf in hopes it would calm down. They would activate him from the injured list ahead of their June 14 matchup, and through Aug. 31, Ward felt the effects of the injury and missed time, regressing to a below-league-average hitter.
It’s important to view Ward’s season in chunks because of how night and day he was pre and post-injury given his blazing start because from September on, he regained his form from early on in the year.
He wrapped up his final two months with a reformed plate approach, limiting his strikeout percentage to just 15.9% coupled with an 8.7% walk rate.
On the season, he compiled a 3.8 fWAR with a .833 on-base plus slugging, 23 home runs and a 137 wRC+.
Taylor Ward 2022 highlight
Ward’s final third of the season included a torrid stretch from Sept. 27 to Oct. 5 when he posted a .389 batting average with six extra-base hits in nine games. He went 14-for-36 with two homers, five RBI and five runs scored to cap off the best season of his career.
The acquisition of outfielder Hunter Renfroe provided the Angels with another formidable bat to go alongside Trout and Ward for the 2023 season. The overall health of Ward and how his body will respond to the highest workload of his career should be an indicator of his success with how he was able to turn his fortune back into his favor once the hamstring injury seemed to be in the rearview.
Ward and the Angels avoided arbitration in early January after agreeing to a one-year, $2.75 million contract for the upcoming season. He should once again be an important piece in the Angels lineup.
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