If the 2021 MLB season proved anything, it’s that young players are truly changing the game and dominating from a very young age. And while trusted veterans are always important to the makeup of a team, the production may at times be lacking.
The Los Angeles Angels learned this lesson with Jose Quintana, Junior Guerra, and Kurt Suzuki. As three of the oldest players on the Angels roster during the 2021 season, these three got numerous opportunities to put together productive playing time.
However, all three struggled, even in limited roles. Today’s player review focuses on what went wrong for these three in 2021, and where they can go from here.
Days 1-6 of our player review series can be seen here:
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
Day 6: Aaron Slegers, Alex Claudio, Luis Rengifo
Quintana began the 2021 season as one of the six members of the Angels starting rotation. However, the Angels were very quick to learn that he simply wasn’t the same player that Joe Maddon spent time with on the Chicago Cubs.
During his time in Anaheim, he started 10 games and appeared out of the bullpen in 14 more. As a starter, he failed to live up to expectations in a major way, sporting an 8.23 ERA and a 2.057 WHIP over 35 innings. He walked nearly one batter per inning and averaged just 3.2 innings per start.
He was much better in his 28 innings as a reliever. His walk issues went away and he held a 4.18 ERA and 1.321 WHIP. There is an argument to be made that he suffered from horrible luck, as his 6.75 total ERA was met with a 4.31 FIP, but the Angels clearly didn’t feel that way.
He was placed on waivers at the end of August where he was picked up by the San Francisco Giants. He spent the rest of his season there and is now a free agent.
Guerra, 36, joined the Angels in the offseason as a free agent. Throughout the season, he served as the team’s primary long reliever, appearing in 41 games. However, after sub-4.00 ERAs in 2019 and 2020, he was unable to replicate that same success with the Angels.
In 65.1 innings, Guerra put together a 6.06 ERA, 1.730 WHIP, a measly 1.33 K-to-BB ratio, and a 0.0 WAR. While he managed to get through the whole season and had some decent stretches, it was an overall disappointing season for the veteran.
Now, he enters his age-37 season with plenty of question marks about where he goes next. Since he was signed to a minor-league deal, he is not officially one of the team’s eight free agents. However, he will hit the open market this winter.
Suzuki was brought in to be the backup for Max Stassi. However, an early string of injuries and the general necessity for catchers to get days off led to Suzuki playing in 72 games in his age-37 season.
The World Series champion, even with 72 games of playing time, failed to get any sort of rhythm on either side of the ball. At the plate, his .636 OPS and 76 wRC+ was his worst since 2015. As a catcher, his minus-12 defensive runs saved was the third-worst total of his career.
Suzuki is now a free agent, and it’s unclear what his plans are for 2022. His relationship with Maddon could certainly lead itself to another season within the organization, but he has also stated that retirement is a legitimate possibility.