The next installment of our Los Angeles Angels 2021 player reviews takes us from the mound to the plate, where we’ll look at three of the team’s temporary solutions to long-term problems. Kean Wong, Adam Eaton, and Jose Rojas were all brought in at one point to cover right field, with Rojas and Wong getting cracks in the infield as well.
By the end of the season, the Angels looked elsewhere to solve some of these issues. Eaton was brought in as a veteran free agent, but never quite found a rhythm. Rojas had moments of great play but struggled to get good contact on the bat. Wong fielded well but couldn’t hit well enough to stay on the field.
Even still, all three got significant time in an Angels uniform this season. We’ll take a closer look at these three players to see how they fared in 2021 and what their prospects are in 2022.
Wong, a 26-year old Hawaiian utility-man, bounced back and forth between the Angels and Triple-A more than any other player this season. In fact, Wong was recalled and optioned so often, he only played in a total of 78 games between MLB and Triple-A.
He was very successful with the Salt Lake Bees. He held a .339 batting average and .860 OPS over 46 games while stealing 10 bases and scoring 31 runs. However, this success couldn’t really translate to the Angels.
He played 32 games with the Halos — mostly in June and September — and struggled mightily at the plate. A .167 batting average and .427 OPS are forgettable to put it lightly, but the numbers showed remarkable play in right field, allowing him to stick around longer than he maybe would have otherwise.
In 2022, Wong is likely to be back in Triple-A. With the Angels at full strength, they’ll already have four outfielders. It’s possible that he is in the mix to start at shortstop or second base, but it remains to be seen if his bat can hold up at the MLB level.
Eaton was released by the Chicago White Sox on July 13, 2021. The very next day, the Angels picked him up and immediately named him the starting right fielder. Eaton is known as a stalwart defensive player who can best be described as streaky at the plate.
Sadly for him, the 2021 season was by far his worst as a batter, especially with the Angels. In just 25 games, Eaton had a .200 batting average, .509 OPS, and 16 strikeouts in 69 plate appearances.
He was released five weeks after signing with L.A. and spent the rest of the season as a free agent. Given his productivity as a fielder, it wouldn’t be surprising to see the 10-year vet get another shot with a Major League team in 2022.
Rojas played far more games with the Angels than either of the players discussed in this review. Rojas even started the season on the opening day roster as a utility infielder. His role changed throughout the season, as he played five different positions in just 61 games.
Defensively, he was somewhat productive. His advanced metrics at right field were what did him in, as he had a minus-4 outs above average at the position he had to play the most in 2021. He — like Eaton and Wong — was a victim of the Angels’ desperate need for a right fielder during the season.
As a batter, Rojas showed some potential as a power slugger. His .208 batting average is nothing to write home about, and an xwOBA of .290 is nothing special. However, a .676 OPS and the fact that 20 of his 35 hits were either doubles or home runs shows he can hit the ball hard.
Rojas will remain an option for the Angels in 2022. However, if he does return, it should be in a utility infield role, not in the outfield.