When the Los Angeles Angels acquired Max Stassi from the Houston Astros in 2019, he was known as an excellent pitch-framer and not much else. His career batting average at the time of the deal was just .218, and he was a significant victim of the strikeout.
In 2019, he struggled even more at the plate with the Angels. It seemed as though he simply wasn’t going to figure things out as a batter and was going to be a platoon catcher with a more offensive-minded player. Then, something clicked in 2020. In his third full season in the majors, he batted .278 with a much-improved strike out to walk ratio.
Now, he’s using 2021 to prove that what the Angels got last year can be the norm and not the exception. He’s slashing .333/.396/.625 in 17 games this season and the Angels are 11-6 when he plays. Joe Maddon tried to explain why Stassi is seeing this type of exponential improvement, according to Rhett Bollinger of MLB.com:
“There’s a lot of offense in there,” Maddon said. “I think he’s becoming a more knowledgeable hitter. I think he’s understanding himself a little bit better. He made a definite change. When he first got here, there was a lag in his swing and it was almost like shallowing a golf club. He was under and trying to lift everything. Now, he’s way more direct to the ball.”
Stassi also went into what adjustment he’s made at the plate to put together more productive at-bats.
“I’m just trying to keep it compact and keep my balance at 50-50,” Stassi said. “I don’t want to be on my backside. But yeah, so far, so good.”
Since returning from a concussion on June 1, Stassi is slashing a ridiculous .474/.524/1.053 and has three home runs in 21 plate appearances. Obviously, this is unsustainable, but it’s showing the type of stuff he can do at his best.
Even better, he hasn’t lost any of that special pitch-framing ability he had when the Angels got him. Put simply, he’s becoming a more well-rounded player each and every day.
Stassi feeling amazing after return
Stassi was gone for nearly a month with a concussion, and while there were some scary moments, Stassi couldn’t be happier to be back in the Angels lineup. He spoke about how he was feeling after his month away, saying that he felt amazing, crediting the training staff for helping him get back on the field.