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Jared Walsh Emerges As 2021 Los Angeles Star Position Player

When I reviewed the 2021 Los Angeles Angels season so far at the beginning of May, I made a glaring omission in not including Jared Walsh and the role he has played on the team to date.

While one would think he get overlooked with the glamour around Mike Trout, the dynamic start of two-way star Shohei Ohtani and the presence of Anthony Rendon at 3rd base, Walsh is fast making himself one of the best position players in Major League Baseball.

Jared Walsh An Unlikely Story to Make It To the Majors

Walsh was drafted in the 39th round of the 2015 amateur draft and received his first Spring Training invite in 2019. Prior to that he had been used as a two-way player throwing relief innings before the camp invite. 

With his contract selected in May of 2019, Jared Walsh made his debut on May 15, 2019, where he went 3 for 4 against the Minnesota Twins. On May 26, Walsh recorded his 1st career RBI with a walk-off bloop RBI single against the Texas Rangers. 

In 2019 he ended up hitting .203/.276/.329 in 87 plate appearances while allowing one run in five innings.

2020 Was Jared Walsh’s Breakout Year

Walsh tried to pitch again in 2020, he ran into injury trouble and was deemed best as a first baseman. The Angels would have almost had two, two-way stars on their hands with Walsh and Ohtani.

With the 2020 Season shortened due to COVID-19, Walsh finished second on the team in home runs (9) despite only playing in 32 games. He had a .293/.324/.646 slash line. 

Where Walsh really made the Angels take notice was after being recalled from alternate site in August. 

He hit .390/.413/.902 in 13 games after the recall and took over from first baseman Albert Pujols, who started to DH. When Pujols was released this May by the Angels, having Walsh available made that decision a lot easier for Los Angeles one would think. 

2020 was deemed a success for him, despite the Angels floundering once again, and when 2021 arrived Walsh was seen as one of the biggest pieces of the Angels offense and a big key to their success in 2021.

Start of 2021 Season Was a Big One For Jared Walsh

In nine plate appearances to start 2021 Walsh went 4-for-8 with two home runs and six RBI.

As recently as May 20th, Walsh had a .331/.399/.572 slash line with a 166 OPS+. He is also prominent in a number of offensive categories in the American League with regards to average, on-base percentage, OPS, OPS+, hits (48), RBIs (31), and offensive WAR (1.6).

He sits in third behind only Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Yuli Gurriel in WAR rankings.

With Mike Trout out for the foreseeable future and Anthony Rendon having his worst season at the plate, Walsh is being called on to help carry the offensive load for the Angels. The Angels find themselves last in the American League West at 20-27 and have fallen to seven games back of the Oakland Athletics.

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Main image credit Embed from Getty Images

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