It has been a historic start for the Los Angeles Angels so far. At the quarter mark of the season, the Angels sit 2.5 games back in the American League West to the Houston Astros. One of the most surprising starts to the season has been outfielder Taylor Ward, but is the hype surrounding him legit?
Who is Taylor Ward?
Ward was selected in the 31st round of the 2012 Major League Baseball amateur draft by the Tampa Bay Rays. Instead of turning professional, Ward decided to go to school at California State University for three years until he was drafted in the first round by the Angels. He made his MLB debut in August of 2018 in a minor role with the team.
Throughout his career so far, he has jumped between the minors and majors. As a minor leaguer, he batted .299, with an on-base percentage of .401. In total, he had 67 home runs, 277 runs batted in, and 38 steals. The numbers that he produced in the minors were not mind-blowing by any stretch, but they were solid enough to get him to the major leagues.
Major League Career So Far
In his first four seasons with the Angels, Ward has put up mediocre numbers but did not have a consistent role in the lineup. Last season in the 65 games he appeared, he had a batting average of .250, an on-base percentage of .332, and a slugging percentage of .438. He also hit eight home runs and batted in 33 runs batted.
The reason for his limited role was the number of people the Angels had in the outfield. The Halos had Jo Adell, Mike Trout, Adam Eaton, Dexter Fowler, Juan Lagares, and a few others. Joe Maddon relied on veteran players overseeing what he had with his younger talent. As players got injured, it gave Ward the chance to play and show Maddon that he deserved a starting role.
So is the Hype Legit?
Ward has been on a tear through his first 32 games this season. He has batted .354, has an on-base percentage of .463 (which leads the league), and a .681 slugging percentage. He has nine home runs and 23 runs batted in which almost matches his 2021 totals.
According to Bleacher Report in their way too early 2022 All-Star game roster picks, Joel Reuter has Ward as the starting right fielder. This would put him alongside Trout, giving the Angels two all-stars. As of now, it is still unclear if Ward’s hot start is because he has not been as exposed to the league or if he has figured out the league and is becoming a star. It will be interesting to see what he can do in upcoming games against teams with tough pitching staffs, such as the New York Yankees, Philadelphia Phillies, and Los Angeles Dodgers. To consider him a legit all-star, fans will need to see Ward continue his success at the plate.
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