As the one year tenure shows, Angels General Manager, Billy Eppler, has not been quiet in showing the importance of run prevention, and it's expressed in the acquisitions he's made.
The most recent one came on Tuesday afternoon, when the Angels parted ways with Jett Bandy, trading the 26-year-old catcher in exchange for Martin Maldonado and Drew Gagnon of the Milwaukee Brewers.
In a sense of "swapping catchers," Bandy and Maldonado, who were both originally drafted by the Angels, differ in a large sense on both sides of the ball.
Despite being a backup throughout his first five seasons of his career, 30-year-old, Maldonado, has been one of the top defensive catchers across Major League Baseball. This comes primarily due to his defensive run prevention and pitch framing abilities.
Based on the advanced metric, runs above average, from StatCorner that identifies pitch framing abilities, Maldonado has ranked between 11th and 18th best across all of baseball. According the metric, Maldonado ranks 17th in baseball over the past two seasons in presentation. (Total since 2015: Maldonado, 13.3 RAA; Bandy, 1.0 RAA)
Continuing in advanced defensive metrics, FanGraphs' Defensive Runs Above Average takes into account fielding runs and positional adjustment, shortened to "Def." Maldonado has the 15th highest Def since entering the league full-time and ranks fourth in defensive runs saved, averaging 3-4 per season.
On the flip side, Bandy, 26, ranks 40th in Def and 21st in defensive runs saved since his burst into Major League Baseball. Bandy does surpass Maldonado in caught stealing percentage by 4.32% and has been graded as an above-average arm by multiple scouts.
As noted in a recent article on Scout.com, regarding what is being considered as the "Danny Espinosa trade," run prevention could be a large difference maker in reaching closer off-setting a negative 10-run differential in 2016, suggesting that the Angels should be near a .500 record.
Though no one can assess what a player will do in the future, if matching their 2016 output, the additions of Maldonado and Espinosa could alter the team's defensive runs saved by exactly the run differential from the season - 10.
In opposite styles of approach, each player brings desirable assets to the plate with them.
Bandy has collected a career .237 batting average, 408 slugging percentage and .690 OPS. Both surpass the marks of Maldonado's career, that has seen a .217 average, .342 slugging percentage and .640 OPS. The difference on offense isn't as far apart as the initial look may note.
An aggressive hitter, Bandy has walked in just 4.72% of his plate appearances, while striking out in just 16.45%, right around league average. In 2016, Bandy saw 3.67 pitches per plate appearance, a drastic difference from Maldonado.
In 2016, Maldonado saw a career high in on-base percentage at .332, far above his career average from the four seasons prior of .288. As he nears his peak and prime years, Maldonado has seen an on-base percentage of .310 since 2014, raising his walk rate and lowering his strikeout rate in each season.
Much more patient than his trade counterpart, Maldonado more than doubled the walk rate of Bandy over his past three campaigns, at 10.87% of his plate appearances. He has also struck out near eight percent more, at 24.09%. The largest difference? Maldonado sees more pitches, at 3.95 per plate appearance in 2016.
In addition to Maldonado, pitching prospect, Drew Gagnon was sent in exchange for Bandy from Milwaukee.
A former third round out of Long Beach State, the 26-year-old right-handed pitcher has repeated Triple-A over the past two seasons. The former Dirtbag has a 4.65 ERA in six minor league seasons. Over his 631.1 profesional innings pitched, he's struck out 7.1-per-nine innings and walked 3.6-per-nine.
In a brief report from a scout, via text, Gagnon has a low-to-mid 90's fastball that he commands well. In short stints, it has reached 95 miles per hour. His curveball has a short break, and will need to tighten up to become more than an average offering. Using a deceptive delivery, his changeup has drastically improved from his amateur years to become his best pitch. If he's used as a starter, he could be as a swingman or innings-eater in the back of a rotation.
After being a starter in his first four years in the minors, Gagnon was moved to the bullpen in 2015, and has been used as a swingman since in the Brewers' system. It has not been noted whether he'll be used as a starter or reliever with the Angels, but if his role is destined for the rotation, he'll be fighting for the fifth day spot along with eight other pitchers.
Many have suggested that this trade opens the door for another move to be made, but the organization has not noted one way or another in this direction. With the free agent market being weak in catchers, it seems that Martin Maldonado will split time with Carlos Perez at the catcher position.
In a standard two-catcher system, Angels' manager, Mike Scioscia, has consistently noted that match ups, pitcher preference, and the hot bat will serve the nightly purpose of catching duties. No catcher in the Angels organization has started over 100 games since Chris Iannetta in 2013 (102 GS).null