A tradition since 2010, RotoExperts At the Park is now available to you on RotoExperts.com. Over the past seven seasons, my exclusive interviews with Major League Baseball players and coaches, designed to bring you key Fantasy Baseball insights, have only been available on radio. Now, in an effort to have a wider audience enjoy my Q and As with your most important Fantasy players, you’ll be able to find the clips right here, as well as On Demand via iTunes, Google Play, Audioboom and other sources. When you come here for the audio, I will add in some key extra Fantasy insights. In this edition, we cover the Los Angeles Angels. As a bonus, I do ask some of the players about their own Fantasy Sports experiences.
Angels Bench Coach Dino Ebel on Maybin’s improved play, Mike Trout and more
In this interview with Angels bench coach Dino Ebel, we cover a variety of topics, including the recent surge of Cameron Maybin, who has thrived since being moved into the leadoff spot. This year, he is hittng .429 with two home runs and five RBIs in the top hole. He also has seven steals in the month of May. Maybin is hitting .240 this year, but he hit .315 last season, the highest batting average of his career. His .286 BABIP is 34 points below his career norm. As long as a recent knee injury does not hold him back, better times should continue to roll overall for Maybin. Trout appears to be hell-bent on bettering last season’s average and run production. His swing percentage has increased, but mostly on pitches inside the zone, and he is also hitting the ball on the ground less often than last year.
Closer Bud Norris on his newfound success as a fireman
When Bud Norris was drafted in 2006, as he indicates here, there was talk about him being a power arm at the back of the bullpen. But he became a starter for the Astros and Orioles before finding himself in Atlanta and with the Dodgers as he searched for a new niche. Norris has found the most comfortable fit of his career now as injuries pressed him into an opportunity to be the closer for the Angels. He has completely embraced the role, with nine saves in 11 chances, a 2.66 ERA and a 0.97 WHIP. Norris’ cutter usage has soared to a career-high 38.6 percent and he has a 11.79 K/9 rate, another career standard. Norris has become a very dependable Fantasy source of saves and he appears to be a good bet to keep the job even when the injured Cam Bedrosian returns.
Kole Calhoun on his approach at the plate and recovery from surgery
In 2015, as discussed here, Kole Calhoun increased his walk rate over three percentage points and cut down his strikeout rate by over six percentage points. But this season, he has regressed again in each category, with an 8.4 percent walk rate and 22.3 percent K rate. He does have a .258 BABIP, while his career mark is .304. He has five homers with 19 RBIs. In the offseason, he had core muscle surgery, and is candid about his recovery here. One baseball insider I spoke to about Calhoun this preseason said he might struggle in the first half of the year as he makes his way fully back from the procedure. So we might not see the better version of Calhoun until later in the season.
Angels Insider with MLB.com’s Maria Guardado
Angels beat reporter Maria Guardado covers a multitude of topics here, including Maybin’s recent signs of life, Calhoun’s slow start and the increasingly aggressive approach of Trout. Matt Shoemaker’s command may not quite be at an optimum level, she notes, but he might be getting closer to his desired form.
Overcoming adversity and pitch selection with Matt Shoemaker
So far in his career, Matt Shoemaker has a 4.47 ERA in the first half of the season with a 2.63 mark after the All-Star break. This year he is off to a 4-2 start with a 3.97 ERA and a 4.76 FIP. His .262 BABIP and elevated 3.65 BB/9 indicate some tougher times could be ahead for his Fantasy owners. He throwing his slider more and the split-finger less this season. His fly ball rate is up almost 12 percent. Shoemaker could be in for a rough patch soon even if he gets things straightened out for the second half. Shoemaker also dicusses his recovery from a dark day at Seattle last season.
Jesse Chavez on his return to a starting role
Last season, Jesse Chavez worked over 60 innings out of the bullpen. This year, he’s back in a rotation with the Angels and is a servicable Fantasy option in larger and AL-only leagues. While he may be prone to the ocacsional shaky performance, he has allowed three runs or less in six of his last eight outings. He won’t get you a lot of strikeouts, but Chavez is capable of respectable continued outings.