TEMPE, Ariz. -- Position players are slated to report for their physicals on Tuesday, at which point Angels manager Mike Scioscia can begin to see what he'll get out of his offense, by far the biggest question facing his team in the early stages of Spring Training.The Angels finished last
TEMPE, Ariz. -- Position players are slated to report for their physicals on Tuesday, at which point Angels manager Mike Scioscia can begin to see what he'll get out of his offense, by far the biggest question facing his team in the early stages of Spring Training.
The Angels finished last season 20th in the Majors in runs and enter 2016 with Albert Pujolsquestionable for Opening Day and left field unresolved. But Scioscia sees "upside in a lot of different areas" and believes "there's a way to piecemeal" production out of left field, with the likes of Daniel Nava, Craig Gentry, Ji-Man Choi and Todd Cunningham factoring in -- as well as Michael Saunders, if a reported three-team trade is finalized.
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The biggest issue, in Scioscia's mind, is providing Mike Trout with enough opportunities to drive in runs.
Last year, Trout was baseball's most productive hitter with runners in scoring position, sporting an otherworldly 1.201 OPS. But he got only 126 plate appearances in that situation, fewer than 129 other players, as the Angels spent the year searching for consistent on-base threats outside of Trout himself.
"I don't even know how he got to 90 RBIs," Scioscia said. "… Our first priority is to set the table for Mike."
Yunel Escobar, who sports a career .350 on-base percentage, factors into that prominently. So may Kole Calhoun, who spent the majority of the last two years batting in front of Trout.
The other question: How much will Trout get to hit in the first place?
"It depends on how Albert Pujols is swinging behind him," A's manager Bob Melvin said during Media Day on Monday. "When Albert's swinging good, it's tough to put another guy on base who's going to be able to run on top of it. And Albert's been known to come up with some big hits when you challenge him like that."
Angels general manager Billy Eppler projects to have four men who can hit at least 20 home runs in Trout, Pujols, Calhoun and C.J. Cron, with "some on base in front of those guys." In the bottom part of the order, Eppler sees "guys that make a high degree of contact," a reference to the likes of Nava, Andrelton Simmons and Johnny Giavotella.
Overall, Eppler envisions a group that will allow Scioscia to play to his strengths and put runners in motion more frequently.
"When you see runners go in motion, when you see great defensive plays, when you get an opportunity for a couple of guys to put a charge on the baseball and put it in the seats, you're satisfying everything," Eppler said. "You're satisfying people that want to see a little bit more of stolen bases, or a little bit more of runners in motion. You're satisfying people that love to see homers, you're satisfying people that love to see tremendous defense. I think this team kind of brings that element in all of those categories."
Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @Alden_Gonzalez and Facebook , and listen to his podcast.