C.J. Cron showed up to camp slimmed down and ready to work, could this be his big break with the Angels?
With the beginning of each new season, there are players who know they need to make an impression, and quickly. Maybe they were superstars who are now in decline, perhaps they’ve got potential to be great but are looked at as injury prone, or maybe they’re a young phenom that just hasn’t quite lived up to the hype.
Still, the teams who are taking a chance on these kinds of players, whether they’re already on the big league club or were just given the chance to make the team via an invite to big league camp during spring training, patience is beginning to wear thin.
C.J. Cron of the Los Angeles Angels is another player who could be the X-factor that either takes the team to a new level or gets booted to the curb after the season. Currently, he’s slated to platoon with Albert Pujols at both first base and at the designated hitter position.
His production both in the field and at the plate is critical for the Angels, as Pujols is still recovering from offseason foot surgery and is beginning to feel the effects of his age. Cron will likely be starting at first base for the Angels come Opening Day 2016.
In the past, Cron hasn’t been a terrible player, nor has he been a great or even good one. In his two-year big-league career with the Los Angeles Angels, he’s batted .260/.296/.444 with 27 total home runs. As you can see by his on-base percentage (.296) he is not very patient at the plate and his minor-league track record suggests that his patience is not likely to increase anytime soon, if ever.
More playing time could help Cron, and this could be the year he gets it. He has played in just 192 games with the Angels and still hit 11 home runs his rookie season and 16 in 2015. So the kid does have power.
Playing daily, he has the ability to have a 25-plus homer season, which is something the Angels desperately need with the slow decline of Pujols and not much power coming from elsewhere in the lineup with the exception of the great Mike Trout.
After getting more playing time during the second half of the 2015 season, when manager Mike Scioscia stopped sitting Cron against right-handed pitchers, his production spiked. Cron hit more than twice as many home runs in the second half of the season as in the first half. He drove in 15 more runs after the all-star break than before it. This spring, Cron is confident that he’ll be able to produce offensively if given the at-bats he feels he needs.
He’ll also receive more playing time at first base, and he’ll need to show improvement there in order to remain in the Angels’ good graces. It seems though that Cron has taken his fate with the Angels into his own hands. He showed up to camp this season slimmed down but still strong, after spending the offseason hitting the gym focusing solely on 2016. About his time at the gym Cron told the media,
“I feel good, I feel comfortable, I feel quicker, I feel stronger. I think it benefited me.”
He also took it upon himself to seek out the help of Mike Gallego, the Angels’ new director of player development, for help in the field. Gallego obliged, and feels that Cron is making consistent progress defensively at first.
Of all the AL West players looked at thus far in this mini-series, Cron seems the most likely to retain his job. He trained hard in the offseason and is continuing to expand and hone his abilities this spring. Only time will tell if Cron can pick up his batting average and become a defensive first baseman, but so far things seem to be looking good for the proactive 26-year-old.