The Los Angeles Angels have a bit of a dilemma on their hands at the designated hitter spot, and the simple solution to that problem is to give C.J. Cron the gig.
When the season initially began, the thought was veteran slugger Raul Ibanez would be the full-time starter in the role for the Angels, but his level of play up to this point in the season has been a huge disappointment. Through 57 games played, Ibanez is batting .157 with three home runs and 21 RBIs. His struggles at the plate include 43 strikeouts and a total of just three multi-hit games this season.
These numbers should not come as a total surprise to the Halos as the 42-year-old had hitting problems in the second half of last season with the Seattle Mariners with a triple slash line of .203/.295/.345, five home runs, nine RBIs, and 58 strikeouts in 51 games played. This was a complete 180 from the first half of the year that saw him hold a .272/.314/.578 with 24 home runs and 56 RBIs. Ibanez was quite simply defying the odds as a player in his 40s and well past his prime years.
It was just that for Ibanez, whose ability to perform well on a daily basis is no longer something he can do. Yes, he may be a great clubhouse guy and leader, but at this point in his career he is not a valuable asset offensively to a major-league team. This is where Cron enters the picture for the Angels. After being called up on May 3, the Halos’ prospect was phenomenal for the ball club as he hit .301 with three home runs and 11 RBIs for the month of May. The 24-year-old has shown remarkable ability to adjust quickly to the major-league level, but in the month of June he has struggled offensively, as evident by his .207 batting average.
This has led Los Angeles reverting back to Ibanez in the DH spot, which was a rash decision given the continued struggles of the veteran slugger this season. Cron was having trouble getting it going offensively and had hit the proverbial rookie wall like all players do, including star outfielder Mike Trout did in his first go around with the team. In 2011 he batted .220 with five home runs, 16 RBIs in 40 games played and had hit below .200 in two of the three months he played in the majors that season.
It is something the Angels should allow Cron to work through and continue to adjust to the majors as it is a vital part in the transition to becoming a successful professional baseball player. Also adding to this point is the fact that he is not a player whose offensive contribution is heavily relied upon on the team. He does not have the burden of carrying the team offensively or being a player that must produce in order for Los Angeles to remain competitive. This is just an opportunity for Cron to get a taste of the majors and become a better player moving forward.
However, coming from the Angels’ point of view, it may be a difficult decision to lessen the role of a player like Ibanez, who the team signed to a one-year, $2.75 million contract this offseason and has a proven resume to backup his credibility. Los Angeles must put that aside and do what’s best for the team, which is to play the player that gives them the best chances to win. It is choice they have to make for the betterment of the team this season and, more importantly, Cron’s prosperous future.