The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim have gotten off to quite a bad start. The team that many people predicted would win the American League West currently finds itself in last place in the division, a full nine games back of the Texas Rangers. While the team has had some problems with relievers, the main issue is batting, or rather the lack thereof.

According to FanGraphs, only the Oakland Athletics have put a worse offensive contribution among American League teams. In terms of batting runs above average, collectively, the Angels lineup has been slightly worse than that of the San Diego Padres and Seattle Mariners. Most notable among the struggling players on the team is the newly acquired Albert Pujols who will be making the gross domestic product of a small island nation over an amount of time that’s likely to last longer than most small island nations’ existence.

Pujols has been the worst position player on the team, judged to have cost the Angels five runs below what an average player would have/should have produced given the same number of opportunities.

Let’s compare some of his rate stats in the early going to what his career numbers are.

  • Walk rate: 6.4% in 2012 to 13% over his career;
  • Strike out rate: 13.8% in 2012 to 9.5% over his career;
  • Isolated power: .080 in 2012 to .285 over his career;
  • On base percentage: 26.6% in 2012 to 41.9% over his career;
  • Slugging percentage: .295 in 2012 to .612 over his career; and
  • Weighted on base average: .242 in 2012 to .428 over his career.

In less scientific terms, he is scuffling. And for every day that he continues the scuffling routine, it’s another day in which people will want to lay blame for scuffling. And for every day that people want to lay blame for scuffling, it becomes increasingly likely that blame will be laid. It doesn’t matter if the blame being laid is done so accurately, just so much as it is laid on someone or something that satisfies an increasingly upset fan base that includes a lot of new season ticket owners.

In situations such as the one that the Angels and Pujols in particular find themselves, the batting coach is often a convenient scape goat. As such, it would most likely be in the best interest of a hitting coach to align himself with the best player that’s struggling and do whatever he can to facilitate a return to more productive numbers.

In the specific case of Angels hitting coach Mickey Hatcher, it seems as though he’s adopted a different strategy altogether. He’s spoken with the media and told them things that Pujols has said behind closed doors as a means of rallying the team, which is merely the stuff of which you’d imagine a professional baseball player saying to motivate his teammates, stuff about having been there before and intentions to not be there any longer.

When he learned of what Hatcher had shared with the media, Pujols was unimpressed.

Mickey should have never told you guys that. That stuff needs to be private. He should have never told the media. What we talked about at the meeting, not disrespecting Mickey, but that stuff should stay behind closed doors.

Now, such stories probably wouldn’t even be worth a mention unless the team was collectively scuffling at the plate, but along with Pujols and the rest of the lineup, outside of maybe Torii Hunter, it’s likely a frustrating situation for a hitting coach.

His impact, for good or bad, is likely at best minimal, as he facilitates the handing out of scouting reports and organizes schedules for additional time in a batting cage. And yet, his job security depends on the performance of those on whom he has such a minimal impact.

It’s a tough situation, but one in which you’d think a hitting coach would go out of his way to endear himself, not share with others what was said, no matter how benign, in confidence by the team’s best hitter. It’s bad timing and a bad idea that ultimately should have been avoided.

Of course, the real issue with the Angels having trouble at the plate has far less to do with poor instruction or improper preparation, and a whole lot more to do with the fact that luck can be a jerk and that the performances during the first 24 games of the season, much like the last 24 games of the season, fall under a magnifying glass that is unlike any other 24 game stretch in between these two bookends.

In other words, a bad start appears much worse than it really is.

And The Rest

It’s the latest DJF Podcast, focusing solely on the Toronto Blue Jays and all the wonderful story lines that are developing around that team. [DJF]

Ryan Braun hit three home runs and a triple for the Milwaukee Brewers against the San Diego Padres last night. For mortals that would be a pretty good night. For Braun, it’s Monday. [Brew Crew Ball]

Major League Baseball is considering getting rid of Interleague rivalry match ups. I suppose an all or nothing approach is best in this case because the Yankees/Mets rivalry is pretty much the same as the Blue Jays/Nationals. Note: It’s not. [ESPN]

Justin Morneau left last night’s Twins/Angels game early due to a wrist injury. []

There’s a good chance that Victor Martinez could be back in the Detroit Tigers lineup by September. [Twitter]

How could Aaron Cook fit in with the Boston Red Sox starting rotation? [Over The Monster]

In case you were wondering, Bobby Valentine has been a train wreck. [Comcast Sportsnet]

Andy Pettitte struggled in his last conditioning start, which should make him feel right at home with the rest of the Yankees rotation. Am I right? [River Avenue Blues]

Grant Brisbee brings us the first four plate appearances of Bryce Harper’s career. [Baseball Nation]

Jeff Sullivan’s The Week In Worst. [Baseball Nation]

Cincinnati Reds prospect Billy Hamilton is incredibly fast. [Baseball Prospectus]

United States tax dollars at work. [Legal Times]

Finally, it’s the latest edition of The Getting Blanked Show for your viewing pleasure. In this incarnation, we come to the conclusion that Clay Buchholz was never really all that good and Bryce Harper is a punk. [Getting Blanked]