Jo Adell on His Hot Start for the Angels and What Has Changed

Jo Adell has started 2024 off on the right foot and talks about what he has changed at the plate to help him find success.

Jo Adell #7 of the Los Angeles Angels hits a home run against the Kansas City Royals in the fifth inning at Angel Stadium.
ANAHEIM, CALIFORNIA - MAY 10: Jo Adell #7 of the Los Angeles Angels hits a home run against the Kansas City Royals in the fifth inning at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on May 10, 2024 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

ANAHEIM — For all of the things that have gone wrong for the Los Angeles Angels in 2024, Jo Adell’s development at the plate has been a true silver lining among the clouds that have hovered over Anaheim.

Sure, Mike Trout and Anthony Rendon highlight an injury list that is head-shakingly long, and the Angels have felt the effects of those injuries as the Halos have struggled to a 15-27 mark heading into Tuesday night’s game against the St. Louis Cardinals at the Big A.

However, if you’re looking for a positive, Adell finally answering the question of whether there was truly a place for him in Anaheim is certainly that.

Adell’s roster status and if he would be able to cement his place in Anaheim was one of the biggest questions for the Angels in spring training, but the franchise held firm in its collective faith that he could produce at the Major League level.

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So far in 2024, Adell has rewarded that faith with a .255/.312/.520 slash line with seven homers and 18 RBI through his first 109 plate appearances of the season. Among the Angels, his OPS+ of 131 is only behind Trout and Luis Rengifo, both of whom are currently unavailable because of injuries.

Considering that Adell’s career slash line stands at .220/.267/.388 and career OPS+ is 80, it’s easy to see that the former first-round draft pick is finding his way in 2024. Adell told me on Tuesday that part of the evolution in his swing comes from understanding exactly who he is as a hitter.

“I think ultimately, I recognize what I am as a hitter and understand that I do hit for power and, at times, there is going to be swing and miss and that me putting off my best swing is what’s important for the team to be able to be successful,” Adell said.

“So I think, as opposed to going from worrying about swinging and missing to trying to make just contact, I’m somewhere in between where I understand there are points in the game that call for me to put the ball in play and try to make something happen and, also at the same time, my capability to drive the ball and put runs up quickly. I have that ability, so I think it’s a little bit of me understanding who I am and knowing that that doesn’t change, but also evolving the process of my approach and playing that chess match with the guy who is on the mound.”

That approach evolved early in the season, with Adell batting .387 (12-for-31) with an OPS of 1.231 between April 19-30. However, Adell went back into his funk from previous seasons at the plate from April 30-May 7, going 2-for-24 with seven strikeouts. Faced with the prospect of slipping back into some old chase habits that haunted him in years past, Adell recentered and produced hits in five of his next six games.

“It’s a wave. You go and you have an approach that you try to execute. Sometimes you get out there and it looks a little different than what you anticipated,” Adell explained. “But, for me, I try to remember what I do well and what pitches I hit the best and just try to look for stuff that resembles that, day in and day out.

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“You know, that’s kind of the toughest thing to do. I think it’s what we’re all trying to do, just trying to get pitches that we know we can handle and remember what it looks like when we get them. So I honed into that zone and good things happen. And that’s what we preach here.”

What is being preached by the Angels is settling into Adell’s batting repertoire. His hard-hit percentage of 47.2 percent is way above not only his career line (38.1) but that of the average MLB hitter (38.9) as well. Additionally, his line drive percentage of 31.5 is also setting new marks.

Angels manager Ron Washington, in his first season overseeing things in Anaheim, said that he has seen a focused approach from Adell ever since the duo met in spring training.

“I didn’t know much about Jo until I got here. I’ve talked with Jo and he explained to me the trials and tribulations that he went through when he first got to the big leagues and where his mind was when it didn’t go the way he thought it should have,” Washington said.

“Well, this spring, he settled in and he opened himself up to not trying to do what Jo thinks Jo could do. Just trying to listen to people that have expertise in that field on what he is capable of doing and how he can do it. He bought in in spring training and, since he bought in in spring training, you’ve just seen him grow. And he’s got a lot of growth left. You know, he’s just finally starting to play baseball the way maybe people that knew him when he was a young kid envisioned that he’s capable of doing.

“He’s still got a long ways to go, but he’s getting there. I’m very pleased with his growth. I’m very pleased with the work my coaches have been doing with him, trying to educate him about running the bases better. You know, they already got him educated on how to play defense because he’s been playing some great defense for us and he’s starting to show that strong arm he has.

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“He’s starting to have much better at-bats. When you don’t have good at-bats, you go to work to try to figure out why his at-bats weren’t good and try to make that adjustment. And we’re trying to get him to understand that adjustment is going to be ongoing as long as there are games to be played. It never stops. Even if you do something well, don’t think you haven’t figured it out because you haven’t. That’s what baseball does to you. It will humble you.”

Adell has indeed been humbled over the course of his stop-and-start five-year career, but he also believes he has turned the corner and is approaching his at-bats the right way in 2024.

“You go back and look at what I’ve done damage on the most and what I’ve hit well, I’ve just kind of balanced that out with what I was swinging at,” Adell said.

“I understand that some of these pitches are pitches that I don’t really hit very well. So even if they are called strikes, I have to allow myself the opportunity to get something that’s a little closer to what I can handle. So I think going in and looking at that, it’s going to help me create an approach for laying off pitches to try to get something that’s better.”

The approach has worked well for Adell in 2024, and it’s one the franchise hopes continues well into the future.