In the month of September, at the end of the shortened 2020 season, there may not have been a better baseball player than Jared Walsh. As the Los Angeles Angels were already out of playoff contention, they gave Walsh a chance to show his abilities in the major leagues. He did not disappoint, and in fact made a case to be a regular rotation player in 2021.
In 95 plate appearances over four weeks in September, Walsh slashed .337/.368/.744 for an OPS of 1.113. He also had nine home runs and 26 RBI’s as he was legitimately one of the most productive players in the MLB. However, as the season ended, many wondered if this type of performance was going to transfer to 2021, or if his hot streak was nothing more than that.
Well, Walsh had these doubts as well, saying that it would be impossible to not feel that way given the nature of baseball, according to Jeff Fletcher of The O.C. Register:
“With baseball, for as much failure as we have, there’s going to be doubt,” Walsh said this week. “Every player puts in the work, but you want it to show up on the field. I’d be lying if I said there was no (doubt).
“But I think that’s a natural reaction for anybody. If you really care about it. There’s a lot on the line personally. But it was nothing that I felt like was impossible to overcome.”
“I’m really happy with where I’m at right now,” Walsh said. “I think it’s just being patient, and I know a lot of other hitters kind of feel the same way. So for me, it’s just seeing pitches and getting comfortable in the box.”
12 games into the 2021 season, and Walsh is doing his best to ensure that September wasn’t a fluke. In 43 plate appearances, Walsh is slashing .324/.419/.649 for an OPS of 1.067, while also hitting three home runs, including a walk-off three-run shot.
In Anthony Rendon’s absence on the 10-day Injured List, manager Joe Maddon has entrusted Walsh with the important task of batting behind Mike Trout.
“It’s all there,” Maddon said. “The guy just needs opportunity. He needs good health, and he’s going to be a really good baseball player.”
When Rendon eventually does return, Walsh can be an extremely productive fifth hitter in the lineup, and the end of a very lethal row of batters for the Angels. David Fletcher, Shohei Ohtani, Trout, Rendon, and Walsh could be one of the best combinations of hitters in all of baseball.
For now, Walsh will continue to do what he does and prove that his 2020 finish was not the exception, but rather the rule.
Maddon considers 3-3 road trip a success
Given all of the injuries and lineup shuffling the Angels had to deal with on their six-game road trip, Maddon felt that a 3-3 record had to be a success.
Through 12 games, the Angels are 7-5 and have a 0.5 game cushion for first place in the AL West.