The Angels informed reporters that first baseman Jared Walsh underwent surgery to correct thoracic outlet syndrome yesterday (via Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register). The club still anticipates he’ll be ready for Spring Training 2023.
It’s an unsurprising development, as the Halos announced last week that Walsh would be shut down for the year with TOS. It wasn’t clear whether that’d necessitate surgical repair, but he unfortunately had to go under the knife. Thoracic outlet syndrome, a condition in which nerves or blood vessels compress in the rib area, has become a more common injury around the league in recent seasons. It’s more frequently an issue for pitchers, but Walsh joins Rays catcher Mike Zunino as notable position players who’ve undergone TOS surgery in 2022.
The diagnosis perhaps comes as some explanation for Walsh’s dismal season. A breakout performer late in 2020, the lefty-swinging Walsh doubled down with a 29-homer campaign last year. He earned an All-Star nod amidst a .277/.340/.509 showing, looking as if he’d join Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani (and potentially Anthony Rendon, when healthy) as fixtures in the middle of the lineup.
Walsh remained an everyday player this season, but his results plummeted. He finished the year with a .215/.269/.374 line through 454 trips to the plate. His strikeout rate spiked to an unacceptable 30.4% clip, while his walks dipped to a meager 5.9% rate. Walsh’s average exit velocity and hard contact rate didn’t much change relative to last year, but his rate of homers per fly ball and general power production fell off.
Assuming he’s indeed healthy by the start of next season, Walsh figures to get another opportunity to cement himself as the primary first baseman. Since he went down, the club has leaned on journeyman Mike Ford at the position. Ford is off to a nice start through seven games, but it’s unlikely he’d leapfrog Walsh on the depth chart barring an otherworldly showing in September. Walsh will reach arbitration for the first time this offseason; he’s controllable through 2025.
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