An Angels versus Red Sox division series matchup is becoming a rite of October -- so much so that MLB may have it guaranteed in its next playoff TV contract, regardless of whether either team qualifies for the postseason. The Angels came out on the short end the past two times they faced the Red Sox, but they bring a different roster with new strengths and weaknesses to this week's tilt.
When the Angels are up
1. The Angels' offense walks more often than previous versions
The addition of Bobby Abreu and sudden (walk-year) improvement of Chone Figgins have given the Angels a very patient lineup compared to the swing-early-and-often approach they had before 2009. That puts the onus on Red Sox pitchers to throw strikes and challenge these guys on the inner half, as Figgins has limited power and Abreu has lost quite a bit. If Boston wants to give free passes to these hitters, they will be all too happy to take them.
2. They're going to run. A lot. Seriously, a lot
I would, too, because both of Boston's catchers are armed with popguns, and the Angels have several guys who can run and read pitchers well. Look for hit-and-runs as well as straight steals. Boston has two options here: hold runners better or keep guys off base. It might have more luck with option No. 2.
To read more of Keith Law's analysis of this 2009 ALDS series -- including his prediction on whether the Angels can buck their trend of losing to the Red Sox, plus notes from Baseball Prospectus, Inside Edge and ESPN Stats & Information -- you must be an ESPN Insider.