The Los Angeles Angels have had a decent amount of injury luck in the backend of their season, mainly with some of the star players that have defined the bits and pieces of success in 2022, including Taylor Ward.
Ward hasn’t been the same player he was for the Angels since crashing into a wall on May 20, and that incident derailed what was an unexpectedly incredible start to 2022. For the first 35 games, he was the hottest hitter in baseball slashing .347/.459/.686 with a 221 wRC+ with 10 home runs and 26 RBI.
But since June 2, Ward’s regressed to below-average production, posting a .641 OPS and a wRC+ of 84 over his next 80 games heading into play on Sept. 14. However, to Ward’s own admission, he’s been progressing in recent weeks as he’s closer to regaining his feel for the game, via Jeff Fletcher of the O.C. Register:
“I’m just feeling stronger,” Ward said. “I can definitely feel a difference in my workouts, throwing, hitting, everything seems to be stronger.”
Major league players crashing into outfield walls has had similar effects on their production following injury in the past, so his play, as a result, isn’t something out of the ordinary. The positive is that his potential showed itself for a decent chunk of games early on.
“I definitely learned a lot this season and I’m gonna take a lot of stuff into the offseason,” he said. “Definitely trying to hit it harder, kind of develop that rotational strength. Get faster and stronger. Pretty much the goal every offseason.”
Ward is heading into his first year of arbitration this offseason and is under team control until after the 2025 season.
Taylor Ward credited Trent Woodward with offensive turnaround
Coming into 2022, Ward was sort of just a guy that former manager Joe Maddon noted would be in the mix for the starting right field slot. As a career .254/.333/.435 hitter, nobody could’ve predicted this level of production.
Ward is having so much success because of a swing change and new philosophy on hitting that he worked on in the offseason, he said via Mike DiGiovanna of the L.A. Times:
“I did a lot of swing changes with my guy, Trent Woodward,” Ward said. “He learned a lot while he was with the Astros and filled me in on the philosophies they were learning at the time. I’ve taken those to heart and have really taken them to another level, and that’s really what helped me.”
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