Another year, another laundry list of injuries for Maicer Izturis. That was his story in 2010, but can 2011 be any different? With a starting job at third base and an opening at leadoff hitter, the door is wide open for Izturis to become a key player for the 2011 Angels, but will his body allow him to take advantage of the opportunities?
2010 Stats: 212 AB, .250 AVG, .321 OBP, .363 SLG, 27 R, 3 HR, 27 RBI, 7 SB
2011 ZiPS Projections: 308 AB, .273 AVG, .333 OBP, .386 SLG, 45 R, 5 HR, 43 RBI, 9 SB
2011 Bill James Projections: 352 AB, .278 AVG, .347 OBP, .394 SLG, 49 R, 5 HR, 39 RBI, 10 SB
2011 Marcel Projections: 363 AB, .269 AVG, .332 OBP, .389 SLG, 49 R, 6 HR, 44 RBI, 10 SB
2011 MWaH Projections*: 350 AB, .284 AVG, .358 OBP, .390 SLG, 52 R, 5 HR, 35 RBI, 12 SB
*The MWaH projections are simply my best guess based off my own personal opinion and research
2010 in Review: Your not going to believe this, but Maicer Izturis couldn't stay healthy last season. I know, please try and contain your shock and dismay. Mike Scioscia's favorite bench weapon had one of his worst seasons as an Angel thanks to three different trips to the disabled list, limiting him to just 61 games played, the fewest of his Angel career. It is a shame too, because Mighty Maicer was needed more than ever last season, what with the problems the team had at third base, leadoff and Erick Aybar's inconsistency at shortstop. Injuries have always been a problem for Izturis, but the Angels have to be experiencing a little buyer's remorse since 2010 was the first year of a three-year contract for Izturis.
Three Lingering Questions for 2011:
- Can Maicer finally stay healthy? It is probably unrealistic to think that Maicer Izturis is ever going to turn into an ironman, but can he at least avoid the disabled list for a season? The Angels have very little bench depth this season, so they are going to need Izturis available as much as possible, whether he is a starter or a utility man. The real question is if the Halos can keep Maicer healthy by sheer luck or will they have to be extra careful about managing his playing time to prevent his nagging leg problems from popping up again?
- Should Izturis even be considered for a starting job? On paper, Maicer Izturis is the best man for the open starting spot at third base. He is an excellent fielder and the most consistent and versatile hitter out of all the Angels options, but, as always, his candidacy could be hindered by those pesky concerns over his fragility. Having Maicer play 140+ games would be great, but it is just unrealistic to think that he can handle it, even if he does deserve it. With that in mind, would the Angels be better off just anointing Maicer as their designated supersub now, since that is a role that he has thrived in and stayed (relatively) healthy in?
- Is Izturis the answer at the leadoff spot? Mike Scioscia has already stated his preference to have Izturis bat leadoff whenever Maicer is actually in the lineup. Given the alternatives, that seems like a good idea since Izturis has a decent eye and is a very good situational hitter, which is exactly why Scioscia has had such a man-crush on Maicer since they traded for him. However, is it really a good idea to have your leadoff hitter changing from day to day? Consistency is important to a strong offense and you can't have consistency if you already know that your preferred leadoff man is only going to be in the lineup for, hopefully, 300 at-bats. On the other hand, does Scioscia really have any other choice?
What to Expect in 2011: I freely admit that my projections on Izturis are made with a bit of wishful thinking in mind. It seems like his injury issues are only getting worse, but I am hoping that the Angels will enter the season with a very specific plan for how to deploy Izturis in a manner that will keep him fresh and healthy. I still think it was a much overlooked factor that Izturis was forced to play (and usually start) almost every single game between his first and second DL stint and then again between his second and third. That is just too much wear and tear on Maicer and Scioscia knows it. With Alberto Callaspo in the fold to help out with the utlity infielder role, Sosh should have enough options at his disposal to keep Izturis limited to four or so games per week, which seems to be the sweet spot for Izturis being able to stay healthy and productive. I also don't think that Scioscia was bluffing about using Izturis at leadoff whenever possible. Izturis has never been an Abreu-esque on-base guy, but Maicer has always been a bit of an offensive chameleon, adapting his game to suit the role he is being asked to fill. What I believe that will lead to is Izturis focusing on working counts and drawing walks to give the middle of the order more to work with, only he won't get his head all fouled up like Aybar did when he tried the same thing last year. He won't be the perfect leadoff man, but I think at the end of the season, everyone will realize that the lineup just seems to click whenever Maicer is given primary tablesetting responsibilities.