Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
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- Tony Reagins
All-Time Team – Angels
First Base – Wally Joyner
Although he never again experienced the same kind of success he had his first two years with the Angels, Wally Joyner performed well for the team over the course of his first six major-league seasons. Joyner burst upon the scene in 1986, hitting 22 home runs, driving in 100 runs, and batting .290, en route to becoming the first rookie to start an All-Star Game. The left-handed hitting Joyner improved upon those numbers the following year, hitting 34 homers, knocking in 117 runs, scoring 100 others, and batting .285, becoming in the process just the ninth player in baseball history to record 100 RBIs in each of his first two seasons. Joyner remained in California four more years, failing to register such lofty numbers again, but continuing to provide the Angels with a consistent bat in the middle of their lineup. He spent his last season with the team in 1991, compiling 21 homers and 96 runs batted in, while also batting .301, before signing with Kansas City as a free agent during the off-season.
Second Base – Bobby Grich
After beginning his career in Baltimore, Bobby Grich signed with the Angels as a free agent prior to the start of the 1977 season. The slick-fielding Grich held down the starting second base job for the Angels the next 10 years, establishing himself during that time as arguably the American League’s best player at the position. Grich earned All-Star honors three times as a member of the team, surpassing 20 homers twice, driving in more than 100 runs once, and batting over .290 on three separate occasions. He had his two best years for the Angels in 1979 and 1981, establishing career highs with 30 home runs and 101 RBIs in the first of those campaigns, while also batting .294. Grich batted a career-best .304 during the strike-shortened 1981 season, while leading the league with 22 home runs and a .543 slugging percentage.
Third Base – Troy Glaus
Although injuries severely limited the playing time and offensive production of Troy Glaus his last two seasons in California, the right-handed hitting slugger accomplished enough the previous four years to edge out Doug DeCinces and the versatile Chone Figgins for the starting third base job on our All-Time Team. Glaus averaged 37 home runs, 100 runs batted in, and 101 runs scored for the Angels from 1999 to 2002, earning in the process two All-Star nominations and two Silver Sluggers. He had his best year for the team in 2000, when he led the American League with 47 home runs, knocked in 102 runs, scored 120 others, and batted .284. Glaus followed that up by hitting another 41 homers in 2001, driving in 108 runs, and crossing the plate 100 times himself.
Shortstop – Jim Fregosi
A member of the Angels in their inaugural season of 1961, Jim Fregosi earned the team’s starting shortstop job two years later and held on to it for nine seasons, until the club decided to include him in a trade with the New York Mets that netted them Nolan Ryan. Fregosi established himself for a period of time with the Angels as the American League’s top shortstop, earning All-Star honors six times, one Gold Glove, and one top-10 finish in the league MVP voting. Serving as Angels captain his last several years with the team, Fregosi hit more than 15 home runs three times, batted over .280 twice, and led all league shortstops in putouts and assists one time each. He had his two most productive offensive seasons in 1964 and 1970, hitting 18 home runs, driving in 72 runs, scoring 86 others, and batting .277 in the first of those years. Fregosi established career highs with 22 homers, 82 runs batted in, and 95 runs scored in 1970, while also batting .278.
Left Field – Garrett Anderson
A member of the Angels’ starting outfield for 14 seasons, Garrett Anderson established himself during that time as the franchise’s all-time leader in hits (2,368), runs batted in (1,292), and doubles (489). A model of consistency from 1996 to 2003, Anderson appeared in at least 150 games each of those years and hit between 28 and 35 home runs, knocked in more than 116 runs, and batted over .300 four times each. He performed particularly well from 2000 to 2003, averaging 30 homers and 120 RBIs during that stretch, while compiling batting averages of .286, .289, .306, and .315. Anderson appeared in three All-Star Games for the Angels and earned a fourth-place finish in the league MVP voting in 2002, when he led the American League with 56 doubles. He topped the circuit in two-baggers again the following year with a total of 49, while also accumulating a career-high 201 hits.
Center Field – Darin Erstad
Jim Edmonds was a better player than Darin Erstad, and he had four truly outstanding seasons for the Angels. Edmonds averaged 28 homers for the team from 1995 to 1998, while also driving in more than 100 runs once, scoring more than 100 runs twice, and batting over .290 all four years. He also won two Gold Gloves. But those four years were the only full seasons Edmonds spent with the Angels, and he actually performed better during his time in St. Louis. Meanwhile, Erstad remained in California for 11 years, seven of which he spent as a regular member of the Angels’ starting lineup. Furthermore, he had an absolutely phenomenal season in 2000, hitting 25 home runs, knocking in 100 runs, batting .355, scoring 121 runs, stealing 28 bases, and amassing a league-leading 240 hits, en route to earning an eighth-place finish in the A.L. MVP voting. Erstad also batted over .290 for the club three other times, scored 99 runs on two separate occasions, stole more than 20 bases four other times, and won three Gold Gloves for his outstanding play in the outfield.
Right Field – Vladimir Guerrero
Before injuries began to take their toll on him in 2009, Vladimir Guerrero averaged 32 home runs, 113 runs batted in, and 97 runs scored over the course of his first five seasons with the Angels, while also posting a batting average in excess of .300 all five years. Guerrero captured A.L. MVP honors his first year in California, leading the Angels to the Western Division title in 2004 by hitting 39 homers, driving in 126 runs, scoring a league-leading 124 times, accumulating 206 hits, batting .337, and topping the circuit with 366 total bases. He followed that up with two more 30-homer campaigns, three more seasons with more than 100 RBIs, and five more years with a batting average of at least .295, before leaving the Angels via free agency at the conclusion of the 2009 campaign.
Catcher - Bob Boone
After serving as the Philadelphia Phillies’ primary receiver for nine years, Bob Boone took over the starting catching duties for the California Angels in 1982. He held on to the position for seven years, earning one All-Star nomination and four Gold Gloves, while helping the Angels with two A.L. West titles. Although Boone posted a batting average higher than .256 only once as a member of the Angels, he did an outstanding job of handling the team’s pitching staff, while also topping all A.L. receivers in assists on five separate occasions.
Designated Hitter - Tim Salmon
I could have gone with Don Baylor here instead, since he was more of a traditional DH than Tim Salmon. Baylor also won the A.L. MVP Award as a member of the Angels in 1979. However, Salmon spent his entire career in California, posting numbers far superior to the figures compiled by Baylor during the latter’s relatively brief stay with the team. In 14 years with the Angels, Salmon established himself as the team’s all-time leader in home runs, with 299 to his credit. He also knocked in a total of 1,016 runs, scored 986 others, and compiled a lifetime batting average of .282. Salmon surpassed 30 homers five times, 100 runs batted in twice, 100 runs scored twice, and batted over .300 on two separate occasions. He had his two best seasons in 1995 and 1997, hitting 34 home runs, knocking in 105 runs, scoring 111 others, and batting .330 in the first of those years. Salmon hit 33 homers and drove in 129 runs in 1997, while also scoring 95 times and batting .296.
Starting Pitcher – Chuck Finley
After spending his first two seasons working out of the Angels’ bullpen, Chuck Finley earned a spot in the team’s starting rotation in 1988. He remained a key member of the Angels’ starting staff the next 12 years, posting an overall record during that time of
165-140, along with an ERA of 3.72. The tall left-hander won at least 15 games for the team a total of six times, posting as many as 18 victories on two separate occasions. Finley had his best year in 1990, when he finished 18-9, with a 2.40 ERA. His 165 victories give him the most wins in franchise history.
Starting Pitcher – Nolan Ryan
Unquestionably the most dominant pitcher in franchise history, Nolan Ryan spent eight years in California, leading all American League pitchers in strikeouts in seven of those seasons. Ryan struck out more than 300 batters five times for the Angels, fanning an A.L. record 383 men in 1973. He also posted consecutive 20-win campaigns for the Halos, winning 19 games another two times. Ryan threw more than 300 innings twice, completed at least 20 games five times, and compiled an ERA below 3.00 on four separate occasions. Ryan left the Angels at the conclusion of the 1979 season having posted an overall record for the team of 138-121, along with a 3.07 ERA and 2,416 strikeouts in 2,181 innings of work.
Starting Pitcher – Frank Tanana
Although he later evolved into much more of a breaking-ball pitcher after he lost the velocity on his fastball, Frank Tanana threw as hard as just about anyone in the game when he first arrived in California in 1973. The left-hander joined fellow flame-thrower Nolan Ryan in the Angels’ starting rotation the following year, giving the team arguably baseball’s most imposing mound duo. Tanana put together four consecutive outstanding seasons for the Angels before a sore arm ended his period of dominance. After finishing the 1975 campaign with a record of 16-9 and a league-leading 269 strikeouts, he posted a record of 19-10 the following year, along with a 2.43 ERA, 261 strikeouts, and 23 complete games. Tanana excelled in each of the next two seasons as well, posting victory totals of 15 and 18, respectively, and leading all A.L. hurlers with a 2.54 ERA and seven shutouts in 1977. Tanana ended his eight years in California with an overall record of 102-78, along with a 3.08 ERA. He earned three All-Star nominations as a member of the team.
Starting Pitcher – Dean Chance
Dean Chance spent only five full seasons with the Angels, posting a winning record in only three of those. Yet, his 1964 campaign still ranks as arguably the finest ever turned in by any Angels pitcher. The right-hander finished 20-9, struck out 207 batters, and led the league with a 1.65 ERA, 15 complete games, 11 shutouts, and 278 innings pitched, en route to winning the Cy Young Award and a fifth-place finish in the league MVP voting. Chance had two other very solid years for the Angels, completing his five-year stint with the team in 1966 with an overall record of 74-66 and a 2.83 ERA. But it was primarily Chance’s brilliant performance in 1964 that earned him a spot in the team’s All-Time starting rotation.
Starting Pitcher – John Lackey
A regular member of the Angels’ starting staff from 2002 to 2009, John Lackey posted an overall record for the club of 102-71, along with a very respectable 3.81 ERA. He had his best year in 2007, when he finished 19-9, with a league-leading 3.01 ERA and two shutouts. He led A.L. pitchers in shutouts two other times.
Closer – Troy Percival
This was a tough call between Francisco Rodriguez and Troy Percival. Rodriguez had some tremendous years for the Angels, including a 2008 campaign in which he saved a major-league record 62 games. He saved a total of 208 games in his six full seasons with the team. Percival wasn’t quite as dominant as Rodriguez, but he spent more time in California, serving as the team’s closer for nine years. During that time, he saved a total of 316 games. I chose to give Percival the nod for his greater longevity, even though it wouldn’t take much to sway me to Rodriguez’s side. Percival saved more than 30 games for the Angels eight times, compiling more than 40 saves on two separate occasions. He had arguably his best year in 2002, when he finished 4-1, with a 1.92 ERA and 40 saves. Percival also struck out 68 batters in only 56 innings of work, while allowing the opposition only 38 hits.
Manager – Mike Scioscia
Generally considered to be one of baseball’s best and most innovative managers, Mike Scioscia has led the Angels to five A.L. West titles, one pennant, and one world championship in his 11 years at the helm. He has won two A.L. Manager of the Year Awards while piloting the team to an overall record of 980-802, for a .550 winning percentage.
- Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
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