Angels GM: Better on-base percentage will take time
Among Angels General Manager Jerry Dipoto's priorities this winter is an effort to infuse more on-base percentage, a concept that has seemed foreign to the free-swinging team at times, into the offense. It will not be an overnight process.
"In talking to the Angels people, it was never not a part of the philosophy, it was just something that was never aggressively taught," said Dipoto, who is attending his first GM meetings this week in Milwaukee.
"There are different schools of thought on whether it can be taught or whether it's a skill you're born with. I tend to gravitate toward the latter."
The Angels ranked 11th in the American League with a .313 on-base percentage in 2011. Dipoto plans to target OBP as he looks to upgrade the offense, but much of the work will be done at the grass-roots level, identifying, drafting and developing players who understand plate discipline.
"Do they track the ball. Are they patient? Do they swing at strikes?" Dipoto said. "That's something you try to identify when players are young. And there's a good chance that the guys who are doing that in the big leagues always had that trait."
Veteran outfielder Bobby Abreu had some success mentoring young players such as Erick Aybar and Maicer Izturis in 2010, but Dipoto said he isn't convinced that patience can be taught at the major-league level.
"I don't think you can take a player ... and immediately change the way he approaches an at-bat, because it's a mindset, a physical reaction, and it's a reactionary game," Dipoto said. “Some do it like Albert Pujols, some like Prince Fielder, some like Mark Trumbo and some like Abreu. Each player is going to be different."
-- Mike DiGiovanna in Milwaukee
Photo: Jerry Dipoto. Credit: Ross D. Franklin / Associated Press