While injuries to Mike Trout and Anthony Rendon have defined the last two seasons for the Los Angeles Angels, it’s arguable that the most missed player outside of those two has been David Fletcher. The Halos starting middle infielder missed nearly three months with a core and hip injury that required surgery.
However, even before that, Fletcher was simply not the player that won the hearts of Angels fans from 2018-2020. His unique plate approach and ability to get hits was uncanny, but he struggled all throughout 2021 with poor discipline and an increased swing-and-miss rate.
When he returned from his surgery on July 28, the hope was that he could go back to being the player he was in those first three seasons. And so far, the early results have been hugely promising.
In 12 games between July 28 and Friday night’s 4-0 loss to the Minnesota Twins, Fletcher is slashing .333/.364/.548 — a .911 OPS — with two home runs, three doubles, and 10 RBIs. Fletcher has said that his core strength greatly affected him at the beginning of the year, and that it’s no longer an issue.
Angels interim manager Phil Nevin has obviously noticed his resurgence, and discussed what a returned-to-form Fletcher can do for the team moving forward, according to Jeff Fletcher of The O.C. Register:
“You hate to play against guys like that because they’re tough to strike out,” Manager Phil Nevin said. “The at-bats seem to lengthen out a lot. And right now he’s swinging the bat well, so he’s hard to defend. He can pull the ball. He’s got a couple home runs. He shoots the ball the other way.
“Then he gets on base and he is a really good base runner. Having him in there and when he’s swinging good, being able to lead him off, it lengthens us out a little bit. When you get the big guys (Mike Trout and Anthony Rendon) back in there, it really makes us long in the lineup.”
There’s a reason that when the Angels are at full strength, they routinely put up league-best offensive numbers. Fletcher leading off for Shohei Ohtani, Trout, and Rendon can be a dangerous thing for an opposing pitcher.
However, realizing that potential requires getting healthy and for Fletcher to be at his best. Over the last two weeks, he has undoubtedly been at his best. Now it’s just a matter of keeping it going as he re-builds his strength and rhythm for next season.
Max Stassi turning things around as well
Max Stassi has looked more and more like the player the Angels signed to a three-year, $17.5 million extension since the All-Star Break. He had struggled mightily throughout the first half of the season, seeing an OPS drop of over .100 from last season.
But in the last month, these numbers have significantly improved, and now look identical to what he did in 2021 when he proved himself to be the Angels’ full-time catcher.