Jared Walsh’s 2021 season with the Los Angeles Angels — his first full year at the MLB level — could legitimately be split into three different segments.
From Game 1 of the season through the All-Star break, Walsh batted .278 with an .892 OPS, hitting 22 home runs and batting in 65 runs. He was one of the best first basemen in baseball during this stretch.
After the All-Star break, he had some difficulties. From July 16 to August 27, Walsh batted .200 with a .536 OPS. He hit just one home run, batted in eight runs, and struck out in 27.4% of his at-bats.
In the midst of his first real slump, he made an adjustment to his swing, and the results were immediate. From August 28 to the end of the season, Walsh batted an absurd .342 with a .995 OPS. He hit six home runs, 25 RBIs, and his strikeout rate lowered to 20%.
Walsh discussed this slump and the mental hurdles he needed to jump to get through it, according to Jack Harris of The L.A. Times:
“I actually have thought about that,” Walsh said. “When you’re really going through the super-tough stretches, I don’t want to say it’s like, ‘Why am I being punished?’ But sometimes, you’re just like, ‘What’s going on?’
“But that’s it. You’ve got to be able to bounce back. And honestly, when it’s all said and done, I think it’s going to be a very positive thing for me because it made me understand about being consistent with my work on a day-to-day basis, knowing what I’m trying to achieve in warmups and batting practice and stuff like that.”
All in all, Walsh was thrilled with how his 2021 season went, as he vaulted himself among the better first basemen in the league and solidified his spot for the long-term future with the Angels.
“It was a dream come true to finally play a season wire to wire, start to finish,” Walsh said. “I learned a lot and have a lot to improve on. But I think it’s going to be exciting times in Anaheim moving forward.”
Yes, Walsh still has plenty of improving to do. He needs to strike out less and figure out how to consistently hit left-handed pitching, but he’s already in a remarkable spot for someone with just over one year of MLB service time.
Having him as the team’s everyday first baseman changes their outlook, as it’s possible that he bats as deep as the No. 5 or No. 6 hole when everyone is at full strength. There is no doubt that Walsh is a part of the Angels’ future plans.
Joe Maddon proud of Angels for final series
The Angels had nothing real to play for during their final series against the Seattle Mariners. However, they took two of three from a team that needed a sweep to make the playoffs.
Joe Maddon expressed pride in his team for playing one of their best series’ of the year when it mattered most.