Part of what went wrong for the Los Angeles Angels in 2021 was a number of players that didn’t live up to their roles. Essentially, some players brought in to play a larger role than they are known for, and they weren’t able to find consistency within that role.
Aaron Slegers, Alex Claudio, and Luis Rengifo could best be described in this way. Slegers and Claudio were asked to handle high-leverage relief spots early in the season with the Angels still figuring out their bullpen. They both had moments of excellence, but also moments of disaster.
Meanwhile, Rengifo was eventually given an every day shortstop/utility role by the end of the season after the Angels released Jose Iglesias. He also mixed in moments of brilliance while struggling. Now, the three are stuck in a sort of baseball purgatory as they await their team’s moves this offseason.
The first five days of our Angels player reviews can be seen below:
Day 1: Reid Detmers, Janson Junk, Packy Naughton
Day 2: Austin Warren, Jimmy Herget, Oliver Ortega
Day 3: Kean Wong, Adam Eaton, Jose Rojas
Day 4: Andrew Wantz, Jose Quijada, Chris Rodriguez
Day 5: Tony Watson, Andrew Heaney, Jose Iglesias
When Slegers was traded from the Tampa Bay Rays to the Angels prior to the season, there was hope that the young reliever could build off of a really solid shortened 2020 campaign. He was given a high-leverage role in the Angels bullpen right off the bat, but simply could not make use of it.
In 31.0 innings over 29 appearances, Slegers tossed out a 6.97 ERA. His 5.62 FIP wasn’t much better, and a 1.871 WHIP signaled a massive issue, as he allowed 43 hits in 31 innings of work. 25 strikeouts was a respectable total, but it was coupled with 15 walks.
Slegers spent some time with the Angels and at Triple-A. By late August, he was released and re-signed with the Rays, where he spent the rest of the season in the Minor Leagues. It’s unclear where he stands with the Rays, but starting next season in Triple-A certainly makes sense for a player that needs to rediscover his 2020 form.
Claudio is another player that the Angels picked up over the offseason after a productive 2020 campaign. With the Milwaukee Brewers, Claudio was a solid, low-leverage bullpen option. However, in Anaheim, he struggled to match it.
Claudio appeared in 41 games this season, but pitched just 32.2 innings. He had a 5.51 ERA and a 1.592 WHIP, striking out 30 batters compared to 15 walks. He, like Slegers, allowed well over one hit per inning, and struggled with inherited runners.
The Angels moved on from Claudio at the end of July, releasing him to free agency on July 30. Just a few days later, he was picked up by the Boston Red Sox, where he too spent the rest of the season in the Minor Leagues.
Rengifo is the only player being discussed today that actually finished the 2021 season as a member of the Angels. The 24-year old played a utility role in Anaheim this season, switching between right field, shortstop, and third base.
However, shortstop was the position he played the most by the end of the season. Rengifo spent the entire final month of the season with the Angels after bouncing back and forth between them and Triple-A from April to August. He was openly being evaluated as a potential shortstop option in 2022, but did not outwardly impress.
In the final month of the season — which is when his full evaluation began — he batted .250 with a .685 OPS and a slightly below average 92 wRC+. His fielding was also not particularly great, as he ranked in just the fourth percentile of outs above average. He was particularly bad at third base, where he racked up minus-4 OAA.
The moves made by the Angels over the next few months will show exactly what they think of Rengifo. They’ve already claimed Andrew Velazquez from the New York Yankees, signaling that they may bring in multiple mid-level shortstops for a Spring Training position battle.