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Billy Eppler vows to improve Angels’ OBP in 2018

By in Press Enterprise on October 3, 2017

By Jeff Fletcher

ANAHEIM — The Angels’ plan for improving in 2018 is just about as simple as it gets, so rooted in the basics of modern analytics that the words might as well have been uttered by Brad Pitt.

“Something I learned a long time ago: get that on-base percentage up,” General Manager Billy Eppler said. “Don’t make so many outs.”

One of the core changes in the game over the past 15 years has been a focus on on-base percentage instead of batting average, as espoused by A’s general manager Billy Beane and repeated on the silver screen by Pitt in the film adaptation of Moneyball.

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“The metric that has the strongest correlation to run scoring is on-base percentage,” Eppler said Monday, the first day of the Angels’ offseason. “It’s been sliced and diced every single which way under the sun.”

The Angels’ .315 on-base percentage in 2017 ranked 11th in the American League. Not surprisingly, they had the same rank in runs scored.

“I want our team on-base percentage to be .330 or higher,” Eppler said.

They were particularly deficient at first base (.294) and designated hitter (.290), which are supposed to be two of a team’s most productive offensive positions. They also lagged at catcher (.263) and second base (.274), but those are more defensive positions, and the Angels got the defense they wanted for much of the season at both spots, at the expense of offense.

As for which particular holes Eppler plans to fill with higher on-base percentage players, he was predictably noncommittal.

“I’m going to look to improve anywhere possible,” he said.

You can rule out the Angels upgrading at center field or […]    

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