Angels News: Nolan Schanuel Leaning Into His ‘Natural Habitat’ At The Plate
MLB: Los Angeles Angels at Cleveland Guardians
David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Angels came into the 2024 season hoping to figure out which of their young potential cornerstones they can build around for the future. Among the options was first baseman Nolan Schanuel, who made headlines with his Major League debut in the same calendar year he was drafted 11th overall.

Schanuel made his mark early as an on-base machine, posting a .402 on-base percentage in 29 games last season. He reached base safely in every single game he played. However, he didn’t display the typical power of a first baseman, as his slugging percentage sat at .330 with only one home run. It was clear that this criticism affected him, as he came into 2024 with a purpose to hit for power.

That method did not work for the young first baseman. In his first 54 plate appearances of 2024, he batted .093 with a .422 OPS. He had one home run and only four hits, striking out 13 times compared with eight walks.

Then, something clicked for Schanuel. In his 61 plate appearances since, he is batting .339 with an .848 OPS. He has two home runs with 19 hits, striking out only eight times. What allowed him to make the change was relatively simple: he stopped trying to hit for power, according to Jeff Fletcher of The O.C. Register:

“I was pulling off the ball, trying to hit homers,” Schanuel said this weekend. “A giraffe is not going to eat meat. You can’t take it out of its natural habitat. I need to stick to what I know and what I do best, and that’s singles up the middle, opposite field approach. And if they hang me one and I’m a little early, I get it. That’s the biggest difference from my first 40 at-bats to these last 40 at-bats.”

Manager Ron Washington moved Schanuel out of the leadoff spot during his struggles, but moved him back when Mike Trout got hurt. He has proven the move to be a good one, as Schanuel is playing some of his best baseball in recent days.

Growing pains are a part of a young player’s first couple seasons in the Majors. This is especially true when those first couple seasons come at age 22. But the last few weeks have demonstrated exactly why the Angels drafted and quickly promoted Schanuel in the first place, as he is establishing himself as a legitimate cornerstone for years to come.

Reid Detmers slowing down for Angels

Everything was in place for Reid Detmers to have the breakout 2024 campaign that the Angels were hoping for. Through his first four starts — 22.2 innings — Detmers held a 1.19 ERA and a 0.971 WHIP with 31 strikeouts. He had all of his pitches working to their fullest potential and looked virtually unhittable at times during this stretch.

Things have taken a sharp downturn for Detmers in his last three starts, however. This culminated in a seven-run outing against the Cleveland Guardians that looked very similar to some of his early poor performances.

Detmers, when his stuff is not fully focused, can easily be snake-bitten by the home run ball. He gave up three on Saturday night in 5.2 innings of work. And the lack of consistency is leading to frustration for the young Angels starter.

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