As injuries piled up in the Los Angeles Angels infield, Andrew Velazquez has been an everyday starter for a majority of the season. He has played in 124 of the Angels 141 games, and although he’s been elite defensively, he has struggled mightily at the plate.
On the year, Velazquez is slashing .193/.234/.302 with 119 strikeouts in 348 plate appearances. He has a wRC+ of just 48, putting him 52% below league average as a hitter. His defense, speed, and a lack of infield depth has allowed him to play in a significant number of games.
But recently, a change in Velazquez’s approach has led to improved results. Four games ago, Velazquez decided to temporarily abandon switch-hitting in favor of only hitting right handed. In those four games, Velazquez is batting .286 with an .833 OPS.
Angels interim manager Phil Nevin believes that this decision could completely alter Velazquez’s trajectory as a hitter, according to Jeff Fletcher of The O.C. Register:
“I like where it can take him,” Nevin said. “I really do. It’s something that he’s going to continue to work on and we’re just going to keep it on that side for now. It’s been beneficial to him.”
One area that Velazquez has specifically focused on is hitting sliders from right-handed pitchers now that he is not batting left-handed anymore. However, he feels the adjustment is not as difficult as he thought it would be.
“Just looking over there is a little different,” he said. “It’s not as drastic as I thought it was going to be. It’s not terrible. It’s a work in progress.”
If Velazquez can become a steady and reliable hitter in the Angels lineup, it certainly changes the team’s approach to roster building ahead of next season. It had been assumed that the Angels were going to pursue a more permanent shortstop option.
But between Velazquez finding a new groove at the plate and Luis Rengifo’s emergence, perhaps the Angels spend another season with a platoon at shortstop while David Fletcher mans second base.
Trout homers in seventh straight
Mike Trout cannot seem to stop hitting home runs, as Monday night saw him hit a big fly in his seventh consecutive game. He is now one game away from the AL/NL record of eight, currently held by Ken Griffey Jr., Don Mattingly, and Dale Long.