Josh Hamilton, Mark Trumbo, Mike Trout, Peter Bourjos, J.B. Shuck, Kole Calhoun and Collin Cowgill have all played outfield for significant stretches this year. Bourjos’ constant injury problems forced the Los Angeles Angels to dig deep for replacements, and the results have been decidedly mixed.
One of the more pleasant surprises of the season has been Shuck, who is hitting .295 with 32 RBIs in 99 games for the Halos and has made a few outstanding plays on defense. He has assumed left field duties while Trout has covered for Bourjos in center, and has made a very strong case for continuing his large role come next year.
If anyone is bound to see less time roaming the outfield grass next year, it’s Hamilton. He leads all AL right fielders in errors with a whopping eight on the season, and has looked downright uncomfortable in the field at times. Hamilton may well spend more time at DH next year, though it would be difficult to fit him alongside Albert Pujols and Mark Trumbo, both of whom have DHed this year.
If Hamilton can’t improve at the plate next year, the Halos could be forced to relegate him to a far smaller role than his $25 million salary would indicate.
Calhoun and Cowgill may return to the minors once next year rolls around, but if they can show their best play over the remainder of the season, Los Angeles may have a stronger position at the bargaining table when it comes time to trade for a pitcher in the offseason.
There will be many, many question the Angels will have to answer in 2014. As of now, the outfield is a big question mark.