LOS ANGELES - Here's a surprising factoid: Collin Cowgill has a higher Wins Above Replacement score than Albert Pujols. The backup outfielder has a WAR of 2.0, per FanGraph.com's system; the superstar first baseman has a WAR of 1.9.
Yes, it tends to point out a flaw in WAR, which puts a lot of weight on defensive metrics that still have holes. But it's also a testament to how important Cowgill is to the Angels.
"He's one of those players you don't really notice what he does until he's not there," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said of Cowgill, who was activated off the disabled list for Monday's Freeway Series opener.
Cowgill had been out since suffering a broken nose and right thumb during a hit by pitch on July 12. The nose hadn't been an issue for quite some time. The thumb, which didn't require surgery, felt good during a three-game rehab assignment for Triple-A Salt Lake in which he went 4-for-12 with a couple of doubles.
"Catching was the biggest concern, because when I first started getting into baseball activities I couldn't even put my hand in my glove," Cowgill said. "I caught a pretty hard line drive last night, no problem. I needed that, just to make sure [the right thumb] was comfortable."
Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Gonzo and "The Show", and follow him on Twitter @Alden_Gonzalez. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.