Day 11 of our 2021 Los Angeles Angels player review series takes a look at three major contributors in the forms of Alex Cobb, Max Stassi, and Mike Mayers. All three of these veterans — in between injuries — played key roles in keeping the Angels afloat.
All three of these players were positive contributors and could realistically be back with the team next season. Cobb could serve as the team’s No. 5 or No. 6 starter depending on the success of the team’s offseason goals, while Mayers and Stassi have relatively solidified places on the roster.
We’ll take a look at the performances of Cobb, Stassi, and Mayers in 2021 and what their role could be in 2022.
Days 6-10 of our player reviews can be seen here. For Days 1-5, take a look at any one of the pieces below.
Day 6: Aaron Slegers, Alex Claudio, Luis Rengifo
Day 7: Jose Quintana, Junior Guerra, Kurt Suzuki
Day 8: Taylor Ward, Juan Lagares, Steve Cishek
Day 9: Jaime Barria, Phil Gosselin, Jack Mayfield
Day 10: Griffin Canning, Dylan Bundy, Justin Upton
The Angels acquired Cobb from the Baltimore Orioles prior to the 2021 season in part due to Joe Maddon’s familiarity with the veteran starter. Expectations weren’t high, as the Angels just wanted someone who was reliable and could eat innings to help stretch Shohei Ohtani’s starts to every six days instead of five.
Instead, they saw Cobb have a resurgence, proving to be one of the team’s best pitchers despite a couple of injuries. Cobb started 18 games for the Angels, pitching a total of 93.1 innings. While not as high of an innings total as they would like, Cobb made up for it with a 3.76 ERA, 1.264 WHIP, 2.92 FIP, and 119 ERA+.
He was hugely productive as a pitch-to-contact type, with a 53.3 groundball percentage. His chase rate and barrel percentage ranked within the top 7% of MLB pitchers. He was so good, in fact, that he became a major trade target for opposing teams at the trade deadline.
The Angels likely could’ve gotten a sizable haul for him, but chose to keep him around per his request. He made it clear on several occasions that Anaheim was where he wanted to be.
Now, he is currently a free agent. He has said he wants to return to the Angels, and could slot in perfectly as the team’s No. 6 starter should they achieve their goals of landing two frontline starters.
Heading behind the plate, we take a look at Max Stassi, who went from a stopgap option at the end of the 2019 season to the team’s full-time starting catcher after a breakout 2020 campaign. Now, he wasn’t quite as good in 2021 as he was in the pandemic-shortened season, but he still proved he can be a productive catcher at the MLB level.
Injuries limited Stassi to just 87 games, but in that time, he held a .752 OPS, hitting 13 home runs and batting in 35 runs. With a 107 wRC+, he was a slightly above average hitter. But what made him truly great for the Angels was his defense.
It’s a rarity in Major League Baseball to have a catcher be above average both at the plate and behind it. But Stassi managed to do that, ranking in the 87th percentile in pitch framing and racking up a spectacular 10 defensive runs saved.
Stassi is entering his final year of arbitration before free agency in 2023. The Angels would be wise to keep him around, as he has flown under the radar as one of baseball’s most complete catchers. Perhaps an extension can be agreed to that avoid arbitration altogether, but if not, the Angels could get one more season of Stassi as the starting catcher.
Mayers is another arbitration-eligible player that carved a role for himself after a breakout 2020 season. Mayers was legitimately one of the best relievers in baseball last season, and although he was unable to replicate it in 2021, he still was hugely productive for the Angels.
Mayers appeared in 72 games this season, the second most of any Angels pitcher. He pitched 75 innings in that time, picking up an ERA of 3.84, a WHIP of 1.293, and a K-per-9 ratio of 10.8.
His drawback in 2021 was hard contact. While walks were discussed as a major issue surrounding Mayers, his walk rate landed at the exact average of all MLB pitchers. Hard contact, meanwhile, was an issue, as hit hard hit percentage ranked in the 26th percentile and his average exit velocity against ranked in the sixth percentile.
Despite these issues, Mayers managed a solid 2021 campaign, and there’s no reason to believe he can’t play a role with the team in 2022. Even if the Angels retain Raisel Iglesias and bring in several new bullpen pieces, Mayers should be one of the last to go.