Sunday Notes: Angels GM Perry Minasian Believes in Mix and Fit (Not Magic Bullets)

The Los Angeles Angels can’t count clubhouse chemistry as the primary reason they entered Memorial Day weekend with the third most wins in the American League. Marquee players such as Mike Trout, Shohei Ohtani, and Anthony Rendon — not to mention Patrick Sandoval and Taylor Ward — bear a far larger responsibility for the club’s success. Which doesn’t mean that intangibles haven’t mattered. In the opinion of Angels GM Perry Minasian, they’ve actually mattered a lot.

Asked about his approach for building a winning team, Minasian responded with a rhetorical: “Do we have enough time for this?” The 42-year-old baseball lifer then proceeded to champion the value of non-quantifiable characteristics.

“Philosophically, we’re not only trying to get talented players,” Minasian told me when the Angels visited Fenway Park earlier this month. “We’re trying to get the right DNA, the right mix of guys from a makeup standpoint. That’s really important to me. Growing up around the game — I’ve been fortunate to spend a lot of time in big-league clubhouses — I really believe in mix and fit. It’s hard to quantify, but I think it has a huge impact. The room makes a big difference.”

So too does on-field talent. Identifying it — ditto projecting it — will always be an integral part of a general manager’s job. Minasian knows that as well as anyone.

“That’s obviously huge, too,” Minasian replied when asked about analytics. “With as much information as we have today, it’s important to really dig deep. It’s about understanding what’s important, and that includes what’s important for your situation — our situation as a club — and what fits your ballpark. That can make a difference, as well.”

Minasian has had an inside view of the game from a variety of vantage points. A bat boy, clubhouse attendant, big-league staff assistant, and scout for the Texas Rangers, he later became the director of professional scouting for the Toronto Blue Jays, and then an assistant general manager with the Atlanta Braves. Hired into his current position by the Angels in November 2020, Minasian is predictably a champion of diverse experiences.

“Certain people value certain things, and certain people might value certain things more than others,” explained Minasian. “And we’ve got a really good group of people here. Michael Lord, who leads our R&D department, and Alex Tamin, our assistant GM, are both really talented. We were able to add Derek Watson from Milwaukee and David Haynes from Toronto. It is a unique resume for each guy. That’s important to me. We have a group of people that has experienced different things, worked in different areas, and worked in different places.

“You learn,” continued Minasian. “There is no magic bullet in this game, so you’re trying to evolve every day. You might take a little bit from here, a little bit from there, and apply it to your situation. It’s about getting the right mix.”

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RANDOM HITTER-PITCHER MATCHUPS

John Mayberry went 7 for 11 against Bart Johnson.

John Mayberry Jr. went 5 for 9 against Barry Zito.

Derrell Griffith went 5 for 9 against Bob Gibson.

Sam Jethroe 7 for 19 against Mel Queen.

Granny Hamner went 4 for 4 against Cot Deal.

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Derek Hill currently ranks in the 97th percentile for sprint speed, so it should come as no surprise that he considers himself “a line-drive hitter who needs to be gap-to-gap and use my legs.” That’s how the 26-year-old Detroit Tigers outfielder described his offensive game when I spoke to him toward the tail end of spring training.

His numbers reflect that M.O. Along with three stolen bases in as many attempts, the speedy former first-round pick has 14 hits this season, and they included two doubles, three infield hits, and two bunt hits. Laying the ball down was part of the plan coming in.

“I want to use the bunt more this year,” Hill told me. ”I think it’s a great tool, especially with how hard it is to come by hits right now. They know exactly where to play you, and exactly how to pitch to you, so if they’re giving you a hit, you’d be silly not to take it. I think bunting is a little bit of a lost art, and something I can use to my advantage.”

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A quiz:

Nolan Ryan has the second-lowest single-season ERA in Angels franchise history. Which Angels pitcher has the lowest single-season ERA?

The answer can be found below.

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NEWS NOTES

The Australian Baseball League announced that the New Zealand-based Auckland Tuatara will be re-joining the league for the 2022/-2023 season after a two-year hiatus. The forthcoming ABL season is slated to get underway in November.

Anthony Alford reportedly signed with the KBO’s KT Wiz this week. The 27-year-old outfielder had been released by the Cleveland Guardians, who’d signed the former Blue Jay and Pirate to a minor-league deal earlier this month.

Bob Miller, who pitched for the Detroit Tigers from 1953-1957, and for the Cincinnati Reds and New York Mets in 1962, has died at age 86. One of four Bob Millers in MLB history, the southpaw from Berwyn, Illinois was three weeks short of his 18th birthday when he made his big-league debut, and remains the youngest pitcher to start a game for the Tigers.

Gordie Windhorn, an outfielder who saw action for four teams from 1959-1962, died earlier this month at age 86. Windhorn appeared in 95 MLB games, then went on to play in Japan with the Hankyu Braves from 1964-1969.

The St. Louis Cardinals announced on Friday that Matt Holliday, Julian Javier, and Charles Comiskey will be inducted into the team’s Hall of Fame on August 27. Comiskey played for, and managed, the St. Louis Browns in the 1880s and 1890s before the franchise was renamed Cardinals in 1900.

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The answer to the quiz is Dean Chance, who had a 1.65 ERA for the Angels in his 1964 Cy Young Award season. Chance’s 200 ERA+ that season is also a single-season franchise best.

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A good number of quotes were left on the cutting-room floor when I wrote about Luis Arraez earlier this month. Seven people weighed in on the sweet-swinging Minnesota Twins infielder, and there simply wasn’t room to include everything that was said. Among the unused material were words from Rocco Baldelli.

“He can pick up a soccer ball and start juggling it,” said the Twins manager. “He can do things with his body; he knows where his body is in space, very, very well. And the swing-and-miss is exceptional. The way he uses the whole field is exceptional.

“You would take him at the plate with runners on base ahead of almost anyone in the game,” continued Baldelli. “He’s not going to come out with the numbers of a Mike Trout, obviously, but when you’re talking about putting a good swing on the ball, or getting on base, we want him up there all the time.”

Arraez — a player I suggested could one day win a batting title — is slashing .359/.455/.420 with a 165 wRC+. He’d fanned 13 times and drawn 21 walks.

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FOREIGN AFFAIRS

Kosuke Fukudome is the oldest player in NPB history to hit a double, the 45-year-old Chunichi Dragons outfielder having achieved that distinction on Thursday. Fukudome has 520 career doubles, 409 in NPB and 111 in MLB.

Takuya Kai leads all NPB players with 17 sacrifice hits. The 29-year-old SoftBank Hawks catcher has 23 base hits and a .192 batting average.

Taisuke Yamaoka is 3-1 with a 1.08 ERA over 50 innings with NPB’s Orix Buffaloes. The 26-year-old right-hander has allowed 37 hits, issued six walks, and logged 48 strikeouts.

Socrates Brito is slashing .323/.357/.533 with five home runs in 207 plate appearances for the KBO’s Kia Tigers. The 29-year-old former Arizona Diamondbacks and Toronto Blue Jays outfielder spent last season with the New York Yankees’ Triple-A affiliate.

Keon Broxton is slashing .408/.511/.632 with four home runs in 92 plate appearances for the Mexican League’s Acereros de Monclova. Mike Fiers is 3-0 with a 2.68 ERA in 37 innings for the Mexican League’s Leones de Yucatan.

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Which pitcher has Zach DeLoach faced in pro ball that has struck him as being particularly nasty? I asked the 23-year-old Seattle Mariners outfield prospect that question during the Arizona Fall League season.

“It would be a guy I faced this year in Double-A — I’ve also faced him here in the AFL — who is in the Minnesota Twins organization,” replied DeLoach, who was featured here at FanGraphs earlier this month. “His name is Evan Sisk. He’s a sidearm lefty, and very deceptive. He kind of steps at left-handed hitters and hides the ball really well. It’s a funky delivery. He’s also got a lot of movement on his fastball, as well as a good cutter/slider. He’s a tough at bat.”

Sisk, a 16th-round pick by the Cardinals in 2018 out of the College of Charleston, has allowed 11 hits and two runs in 19-and-two-thirds relief innings this season with the Double-A Wichita Wind Surge. Same-sided batters have three hits, all singles, in 32 at bats against the 25-year-old southpaw. Minnesota acquired Sisk from St. Louis at last year’s trade deadline as part of the J.A. Happ deal.

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FARM REPORT

Adam Macko has a 3.99 ERA to go with 60 strikeouts in 38-and-a-third innings for the High-A Everett AquaSox. No. 10 on our Seattle Mariners Top Prospects list, the 21-year-old left-hander from Bratislava, Slovakia — via Vauxhall, Alberta — was featured here at FanGraphs a year ago this month.

Edgar Sanchez has a 58.9% ground-ball rate and a 16.8% fly-ball rate for the Low-A Jupiter Hammerheads. The 21-year-old, Santo Domingo-born right-hander in the Miami Marlins system has a 3.53 ERA to go with 38 strikeouts in 35-and-two-thirds innings.

Hao Yu Lee is slashing .293/.393/.476 with six home runs and a 149 wRC+ in 173 plate appearances for the Low-A Clearwater Threshers. The 19-year-old infielder from New Taipei, Taiwan is No. 12 on our Philadelphia Phillies Top Prospects list.

Duke Ellis is slashing .338/.415/.469 with four home runs and a 143 wRC+ in 147 plate appearances for the High-A Winston-Salem Dash. A 24-year-old, left-handed-hitting outfielder in the Chicago White Sox system, Ellis was signed as a non-drafted free agent out of the University of Texas in 2020.

Emmanuel Rodriguez is slashing .239/.461/.444 with five home runs and a 169 wRC+ in 167 plate appearances for the Low-A Fort Myers Mighty Mussels. The 19-year-old, left-handed-hitting outfielder in the Minnesota Twins system has a 26.9% walk rate, the highest in the minors.

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Perusing a team’s Game Notes recently, I observed that three scoring changes had been announced, and to little surprise, all were in favor of hitters. One of the changes resulted in a batter’s being credited with a sacrifice bunt, while two others turned errors into base hits.

With the caveat that I don’t have actual numbers to back this up, the vast majority of times that an official scorer’s call is changed — this is typically done by the MLB office — an error is taken away and a hit awarded. The benefit of the doubt almost always goes to the hitter.

What constitutes “ordinary effort” is obviously inherently subjective. That said, it is widely accepted that defensive ability has never been better. Players should be expected to make plays. Official scorers in press boxes tend to feel that way, but the final arbiters often have other ideas. For whatever reason.

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LINKS YOU’LL LIKE

San Francisco Giants manager Gabe Kapler addressed the tragedy in Uvalde, Texas — and the meaning of “the land of the free and the home of the brave” — on his Kaplifestyle blog.

MiLB.com’s Josh Jackson wrote about Portland Sea Dogs development coach — and former FanGraphs Audio guest — Katie Krall.

At the Red Bluff (CA) Daily News, Joe Guzzardi remembered “Harvard Eddie” Grant, the first of eight MLB players to have lost his life in WWI.

At The Seattle Times, Marc Armour and Daniel Levitt teamed up to address cheating in baseball, which has been going on since the game was invented.

Our Esquina’s José de Jesus Ortiz wrote about how Mauricio Dubón is Houston’s latest Honduran sports star.

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RANDOM FACTS AND STATS

Andre Pallante has a 0.82 ERA this season, the lowest among MLB rookies with at least 20 innings pitched. Spencer Strider has a 1.46 FIP, the lowest among MLB rookies with as many innings..

Brendan Donovan has a .394 wOBA and a 158 wRC+. He leads all MLB rookies with at least 75 plate appearances in both categories. Jeremy Peña has a .365 wOBA and a 146 wRC+. He leads all MLB rookies with at least 100 plate appearances in both categories.

Alex Cobb has a .411 BABIP, the highest among MLB pitchers with at least 20 innings. J.P. Feyereisen has a .106 BABIP, the lowest among pitchers with at least 20 innings.

Ian Happ is slashing .333/.436/.786 with 15 home runs in 149 career plate appearances at Cincinnati’s Great American Ballpark.

In 2015, the roster of the Low-A Greenville Drive included 14 players who have gone on to play in the big leagues. Of them, only Rafael Devers, remains in the Red Sox organization. (Per The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier.)

On today’s date in 2001, Erubiel Durazo doubled home Steve Finley in the top of the 18th inning to lift the Arizona Diamondbacks to a 1-0 win over the San Francisco Giants. Each team left 15 runners on base.

On today’s date in 1976, Joe Niekro was the winning pitcher, and Phil Niekro the losing pitcher, as the Houston Astros edged the Atlanta Braves 4-3. Joe hit his only career home run in the seventh inning, a solo shot off his older sibling.

Players born on today’s date include Art Reinhart, who made his big-league debut with the St. Louis Cardinals in April 1919 and plunked the only batter he faced — Cincinnati’s Heinie Groh — with a pitch. Banished to the minors after that lone outing, Reinhart returned to MLB six years later and proceeded to go 30-18 with a 3.60 ERA for the Cardinals from 1925-1928. Handy with the bat, the left-hander from Ackley, Iowa put up a .301 average over 199 career plate appearances.

Also born on today’s date was Jim Missouri, a Bishopville, South Carolina native who pitched for the Negro National League’s Philadelphia Stars from 1937-1940. Missouri was a southpaw.





David Laurila grew up in Michigan's Upper Peninsula and now writes about baseball from his home in Cambridge, Mass. He authored the Prospectus Q&A series at Baseball Prospectus from December 2006-May 2011 before being claimed off waivers by FanGraphs. He can be followed on Twitter @DavidLaurilaQA.

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MikeSmember
6 months ago

In general, winning creates good clubhouse chemistry. Not the other way around.

Dmjn53
6 months ago
Reply to  MikeS

Funny how that works

sadtrombonemember
6 months ago
Reply to  MikeS

I’m sure there are outlier cases where it goes the other way–Ruben Rivera, for example. But in general? This is probably right.