Jared Walsh is not a household name throughout the United States. He became a household name for many Angels fans due to his consistent play this season. This year he was the prominent first baseman for the Angels and started 119 games there. The real question is whether this was a fluke season or not. Being his third season in the big leagues some may consider that this was an anomaly. However, Walsh could be a player that adds another element to the Angels roster.
Who Is Jared Walsh?
Walsh is 27 years of age and just completed his third season on the Angels roster. He played college at the University of Georgia and got drafted in the 39th round by the Angels in 2015. Walsh made his major league debut in 2019 and played 31 games. In 2020, he made his presence felt playing 32 of the 60 games and then stepping up in 2021 by starting 144 games. He was named an all-star in 2021 and named American League Rookie of the Month in September 2020. His breakout season in 2021 can lead to him having a more important role in the upcoming season.
What Did Walsh Do to Prove Himself in 2021
Walsh was one of the very few bright spots of this Angels offense. After Albert Pujols was released in May, it allowed Jared Walsh to get more playing time. With both Anthony Rendon and Mike Trout being out for most of the year. Players like Walsh stepped up to help the offensive production this season.
This season Walsh batted .277 with 98 runs batted in and 29 home runs. Both offensive stats are career-high for him. In addition, he had a slugging percentage of .509. and an OPS of .850. These stats show he was an offensive threat when coming to the plate. Walsh became their best offensive first baseman option for the Angel and proved his worth during this season.
Walsh was also a strong defender at first base. He was also able to show off his versatility by playing a couple of games in right field. Playing predominantly first base, he had 139 putouts compared to his five errors committed at first base. He also posted a remarkable .995 field percentage while playing first base.
With his outstanding numbers, he was among the best in the American League in specific categories. He was ninth in the American League in win probability added. Wins probability added captures the change in win expectance from one plate appearance to another according to FanGraphs. Defensively he was second in the American League in assists as a first baseman and third in fielding percentage. These stats, easily explains why he had such a breakout season.
Where Does Walsh Fit In 2022?
Now, how does Jared Walsh fit into the equation for the 2022 season? As of now, Walsh would be the starting first baseman because the Angels do not have another first baseman to replace him. Walsh has a very team-friendly deal with a salary of 575,550 dollars in 2022. After this season he will be eligible for arbitration from 2023 to 2025. It can be for certain that there is a place in the starting lineup due to his great offense and defense. He also helps give the Angels lineup balance being one of the only left-handed batters in the starting lineup.
One of the main things he needs to work on is his batting against left-handed pitching. In 182 at-bats, Walsh had a batting average of .170, an on-base percentage of .208, and a slugging percentage of .357. If he can become an average hitter against lefties, he can become even more of a threat at the plate. If he can improve upon this, it can help Joe Maddon reduce a platoon situation at first base and cements Walsh’s ability to play every day.
The way Walsh has developed in the past three years of playing in the major leagues shows that he can be one of the young cornerstones for the Angels. It will be exciting to see what Walsh will be able to do this upcoming year with a team that is fully healthy alongside him.
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