The Los Angeles Angels tabbed former New York Yankees and Miami Marlins hitting coach Marcus Thames as their new man for the 2023 season, and with him, he brings a fresh approach that is centered around the strengths and weaknesses of each hitter.
The club was near the bottom in Major League Baseball in many offensive categories, mainly against fastballs, an area which Thames believes he can improve.
Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani were about the only consistency the Angels had this past season, which is much to do with their third-place finish and a collective offense that ranked worse than the 60-win Oakland Athletics. Against the heat, they ranked fourth-worst in all of baseball according to Fangraphs.
Phil Nevin’s club posted a -0.33 wFB/C, which calculates the run value per 100 fastballs seen. Thames recently touched on the topic and said he thinks the Angels situation last season hindered their ability to perform at their highest level, via Sam Blum of The Athletic:
It’s a mindset. Everybody uses a machine, and we’ll do that every single day. But at the same time, you’ve just got to know with the velocity, where do you like it? I don’t want to be chasing velocity at the top of the zone if I know I don’t get up there. Of course, your numbers are going to look bad if you’re swinging at that. That goes back to what I said in the beginning. Knowing your strengths. Knowing where you do your damage. If you do that early on, I think you can eliminate that chase.
Thames will also benefit from joining a club with an already strong group of hitters. Along with Trout and Ohtani, they also have Jared Walsh, Anthony Rendon, Taylor Ward and Hunter Renfroe, who are all capable of hitting 30 home runs. In addition, they have some other quality hitters in Luis Rengifo, Gio Urshela, and top prospect Logan O’Hoppe:
Just overall watching from afar, I thought really talented team. Really talented ball club. Injuries hurt the offense also. I didn’t think a lot of the big guys were there the whole time. So that kind of hurt, also. Just being a little bit more aggressive. And hopefully, in 2023 we can keep them healthy, and let them go out and play. Just let them go out and be athletes, and do what they do when they’re doing well.
The Angels have a better outlook heading into next season with Thames seeming to have a direction for how he wants to manage the offensive mindset. Nevin reuniting his friend in L.A. as the team’s hitting guru might be a solid pickup.
Marcus Thames and Phil Nevin have a history before Angels reuninion
Thames is a 10-year veteran in Major League Baseball, spending time with the Detroit Tigers, Yankees, L.A. Dodgers, and Texas Rangers. He was never an overwhelming force in the box, but as he transitioned into the role he has today, his philosophy of understanding each player’s strengths and ensuring their knowledge of the strike zone is what he preached.
He advanced through the Yankees Minor League coaching ranks, eventually landing a job with the big club as their hitting coach prior to the 2018 season. Ironically, Nevin was brought on to their staff at the same time, sparking their friendship.
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