When Los Angeles Angels manager Phil Nevin decided to bring on Marcus Thames as the team’s new hitting coach, he was investing in a former player who has taken the time to find where he fits on the teaching side of baseball.
The Angels have dealt with a change in their managerial staff in the past year. After firing former manager Joe Maddon, a bevy of other moves followed. But one important one came in the hiring of Thames, who has a prior relationship with Nevin from their time with the Yankees.
Nevin wanted to bring in a familiar face who he knew could take the reigns of an already talented lineup and put a new spin on it while allowing players to be who they are. The experiment hasn’t begun, of course, but Thames believes his best way to convey his philosophy is to see what each piece of the lineup has to offer, via Sam Blum of The Athletic:
The No. 1 thing for me is guys knowing their strengths and guys knowing the strike zone, where they do their damage at. I feel like if we try to cover the whole plate — it shouldn’t be that way. We should be able to realize what we do well and go off of that. Be aggressive in the zone. And for me seeing the Angels from afar, be ready to hit the fastball. Because you’re in a division where guys are going to come after you. I want guys to be ready to hit and control the strike zone and be ready to go.
A roster comprised of Mike Trout, Shohei Ohtani, Anthony Rendon, and the newly acquired Hunter Renfroe is a good mix of guys to gel it all together with varying skill sets, something Thames wants to bring out of this Angels team:
I’m always trying to get the veteran guys to help out also. I just feel like we’re a unit. We’re a family when we’re together. I haven’t even spoken with Mike (Trout) or Shohei (Ohtani) yet. I’ve just got to get to know those guys. Some guys don’t like talking too much. So I don’t want to step over the line with them either. I need to get to know them first to try and build that relationship with them also. I want to be able to watch those guys work. Watch what they do. They can be a leader by example, not just by talking. Just watching those guys perform and how those guys prepare for games. I think that can help also.
Thames is saying all of the right things, but this is Nevin’s guy, and after ditching the interim title after the season, the Angels will continue with a new offensive mindset in an attempt to find some much-needed consistency.
Nevin and the Angels believe Thames will help unlock offense
The Angels were 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.
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