The Angels and Mariners almost evenly split the games they played in 2022. The Mariners will face the Angels thirteen times in the regular season of 2023. While it is still only Spring Training, there are various indicators that each match may be a battle and that the win-loss record may be close. I do think that we have a stronger batting lineup than last year so that may just tip the scales in the Mariners’ direction. And, of course, the Bomberos are ready to light up the innings they pitch!
The Angels' Lineup is Still in Flux
According to Sam Blum of The Athletic, the Angels have not decided on two important positions in the lineup: catcher and shortstop. Max Stassi has been the Angels’ catcher but did not have a strong season in 2022. Blum believes that Gio Urshela, Brandon Drury, or Logan O’Hoppe may play catcher. Luis Rengifo played shortstop this past year. Blum suggests that David Fletcher, second base, could also play shortstop.
While the Mariners have proposed a platoon for left field, they have determined the primary personnel for the other infield and outfield positions, with additional players capable of playing those positions as needed.
Shohei Ohtani will not become a free agent until after the 2023 World Series. Even though no decisions can be made until then, there is so much talk about what he might do or how much money a club might offer him that I think this constant conversation could be distracting to the whole team.
The Pitcher/Batter Matchups
Instead of examining individual pitches and the right-handed/left-handed batting and pitching, I looked at the batting average (BA) and strikeout (K) percentages of our players when each of the Angels’ pitchers was throwing. Then I looked at the batting average and strikeout percentage for their players when our pitchers were throwing. A player had to have had more than four plate appearances with a pitcher for me to find his data credible.
Last year, the Mariners won 9 of their games against the Angels and the Angels won 10. I expect that the W/L record may be close again. Several of the Angels players hit well against our pitchers in 2022, especially Taylor Ward, Shohei Ohtani, and Mike Trout. On the Mariners’ side, JP. Crawford, Ty France, and Geno Suarez were regularly batting well against the Angels pitchers.
All of our starting pitchers won when pitching against the Angels and lost at least one game. Twice the teams played multiple games in one day, interestingly, which called for non-starting pitchers to throw. Logan Gilbert and Robbie Ray threw for more wins than losses. It is exciting that two of our pitchers have developed splitters since four of the Angels’ batters strike out most often with splitters.
Statistics, as always, are only part of the story. We will see how the 2022 statistics inform the outcome of this rivalry in 2023!