The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim finished 10 games back of the Rangers in 2011. You could point to a few things on why they were 10 games back; most notably you can point to the catcher position.
The Angels had a trio of catchers that were as successful as a Larry King marriage. Jeff Mathis, Bobby Wilson, and Hank Conger combined for a -.8 fWAR. Conger led the trio with a .638 OPS. The lack of production was even more troubling given the fact Mike Napoli had a career year with the rival Rangers. When Napoli was hitting bombs in October, Vernon Wells was probably bathing in the money he hasn’t earned.
The catching issue isn’t likely to better as it stands in 2012. Conger is projected to have an OPS barely over .700. This is why the Angels are looking at catching, in particular, Chris Iannetta of the Colorado Rockies. Iannetta doesn’t have the statistics a traditional baseball fan would love; however, he can get on base better than some catchers can dream of doing.
Iannetta had the slash line of .238/.370/.414/.784 in 112 games for Colorado. He has a career ISOD (OBP minus AVG) of .122. His ISOD is something that is hard to replicate at any position; especially at catcher. Iannetta complied a 3.3 fWAR or a 2.6 bWAR, which ever you prefer or trust. It is pretty apparent that Iannetta would at least be a three win difference for the Halos in 2012.
There is one giant red flag in regards to Iannetta. That red flag is Coors Field. Iannetta’s line in Coors is significantly better than it is on the road. In his career, Iannetta has a .262/.377/.492/.869 line at home. On the road, it’s a very pedestrian .208/.338/.369/.707. I’m not one who believes entirely in the “Coors makes the player” argument. It isn’t the same Coors Field it was when the Rockies started playing in 1993. Even if Coors does inflate Iannetta’s numbers, he is head and shoulders better than the Angels trio. Iannetta is almost a lock for a .340 OBP, with a ceiling as high as .380.
Iannetta is one of baseball’s best kept secrets. Hopefully, for Angels fans, that secret will be exposed.