The City of Angels gave birth to the Los Angeles Angels ascending to the American League in 1961. Since then they have retained their team moniker yet have floated geographical names such as California, Anaheim, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, and settled back on Los Angeles in recent years. Gene Autry purchased the franchise and paid then Dodger owner Walter O’Malley $300,000 for the original team name Los Angeles Angels. O’Malley owned the rights to that name from a prior acquisition of a minor league team with the same name. The Angels franchise have won 1 World Series, in 2002 over the San Francisco Giants.
In the Fall of 2013 Baseball Classics will welcome the Houston Colt .45s-Astros and Los Angeles/Califonia/Anaheim Angels to the All-Time Greats set. There are many great and exciting players to choose from; here’s who makes the cut for the top 15 position players and 9 pitchers that will be added and their impact on the franchise.
Nolan Ryan – The all-time strikeout King, A.K.A. “Ryan Express” is a welcome addition to the Baseball Classics All-Time Greats! Led the AL in strikeouts 7 of his 8 seasons for the Angels. He was a dominating pitcher in his generation and considered one of the greatest pitchers in Major League Baseball history.
Hall of Fame/All-Star | ERA 3.19 | SO/9 9.5 | Strikeouts 5714
Chuck Finley – 14 seasons pitching for the Angels, accumulated 165 wins during that span. The 4-time All-Star, consistent lefty averaged 14 wins for 11 seasons with the Angels. Had the longest stint with the Angels franchise on the mound.
All-Star | ERA 3.85 | Wins/Losses 200/173 | WHIP 1.376
Frank Tanana – Began as a 100+ mph flame thrower, then after an injury became a savvy left hander with a nasty curve that dropped from the heavens over the plate to full many hitters. At one time in the same rotation with Nolan Ryan.
All-Star | ERA 3.66 | Wins 240 | WHIP 1.27
Jered Weaver – An outstanding pitcher for the Angels, has only pitched in his MLB career for this franchise. Drafted in 2004 by the Angels in the 1st round as the 12th overall pick. Does not surrender many long balls. 20 game winner in 2012.
All-Star | ERA 3.25 | Wins/Losses 102/53 | WHIP 1.145 | HR/9 1.0
Mark Langston – Pitched 8 of his 16 seasons for the Angels while compiling an impressive career in many categories including fielding his position well. Another one-time flamethrower turned crafty pitcher striking out far more while walking far less.
All-Star/Gold Glove | ERA 3.97 | Wins/Losses 179/158 | WHIP 1.354
Mike Witt – Pitched a Perfect Game in his career with over 100 wins for the franchise. Drafted by the Angels, the tall, lanky right-hander was stingy giving up Home Runs. His durability shined through with 6 consecutive seasons of 200+ innings.
All-Star | ERA 3.83 | Wins/Losses/Saves 117/116/6 | WHIP 1.1318 | HR/9 0.8
Dean Chance – A member of the original Los Angeles Angels, Dean enjoyed a remarkable 11 year career including a highly impressive season with the Angels in 1964 when we was honored with the Cy Young award. He had 20 wins, 11 shutouts, and 4 saves to boot that season to compliment his 1.65 ERA!
Cy Young/All-Star | All-Star | ERA 2.92 | Wins/Losses/Saves 128/115/23 | HR/9 0.5
Francisco Rodriguez – Relief specialist and phenomenal closer he never struck out less than a stunning 9.9/9 IP for the Angels. In 2008 he recorded 62 saves, a franchise record. Three-time league leader in saves. Could strike out batters with any one of his four pitches, including his featured hard four-seam fastball.
All-Star | ERA 2.70 | Saves 294 | WHIP 1.175 | SO/9 11.0
Troy Percival – Angels all-time saves leader, another strikeout artist for the franchise. He appeared in 579 games for the Angels, with 29 wins, a 2.99 ERA, and 316 saves. Was the stopper for 9 consecutive seasons for the Angels with 4 trips to the All-Star game over that span.
All-Star | ERA 3.17 | Saves 358 | WHIP 1.108 | SO/9 9.9
Bob Boone – Played 19 seasons in the Bigs, this hard-nosed catcher comes from a strong family line of solid Major League Baseball players. Boone was sturdy with a decent average, excellent at handling pitchers.
All-Star/Gold Glove | AVG .254 | FLG .989
Brian Downing – 20 year MLB career with over 2000 hits. Belted 222 home runs for the Angels after leaving the Chicago White Sox. Though his years as a catcher were waning fast when he joined the Angels, his offensive stats were just heating up.
All-Star | AVG .267 | OPS .796 | HITS 2099
Wally Joyner – A smooth, natural swing stoked many doubles from his at bats throughout his stellar career. He was also a slick fielder and a fan favorite during his day. In his tenure with the Angels, he hit .286 with 117 home runs and 532 RBIs.
All-Star | AVG .289 | OPS .802 | 2B 409
Jim Spencer – Began the first 6 seasons of his 15-year career with the Angels. Had an average bat, though was excellent with his fielding. He had some pop in his bat and oddly enough hit for 27 triples, though only stole 11 bases.
All-Star/Gold Glove | AVG .250 | RBI 599 | FLD .995
Bobby Grich – Grich was tough as nails during his 17 illustrious year MLB career, spending 10 of them with the Angels after coming over from the Orioles. Good glove man with some power, always dependable year after year. Grich could essentially do it all in every aspect of the game, really solid all-around second baseman.
All-Star/Gold Glove | AVG .266 | HITS 1833 | OPS .794
Howie Kendrick – Ever since joining the Angels his rookie season he’s been an outstanding and versatile player. Now playing in his 8th season for the only Major League Baseball franchise he’s ever known, he has never batter lowed than .279 and adapted to some new places with the glove to make himself that much more valuable.
All-Star | AVG .292 | FLD .986 | OPS .756
Chone Figgins – He may come as a surprise to some for making this team considering he left his bat in California once we signed with Seattle. However his stats for the Angels are undeniable, prior to leaving them he was a perennial weapon in the lineup. His speed was always a threat on the base paths and he found himself on base at a impressive clip. Not great in the field, but surely can play many spots.
All-Star | AVG .277 | OPS .713 | 3B 58 | SB 337
Troy Glaus – Clubbed quite a few home runs for the Angels in his day, led the league in 2000 with his career high 47. 5 times had 30 or more home runs in a season. Fair average and in the field, he featured his raw power and clutch hitting for the franchise.
All-Star | AVG .254 | HR 320 | RBI 950
Jim Fregosi – The franchise Shortstop from the beginning with a very nice productive career for the Angels. During 11 seasons with the Angels, Fregosi hit .268 with 115 home runs and 546 RBIs. However his best franchise contribution may have been prying Nolan Ryan away from the Mets in exchange for Fregosi.
All-Star/Gold Glove | AVG .265 | HITS 1726 | FLD .963
Erick Aybar – Steady at the plate and provides good leather, Aybar is the best hitting shortstop for batting average in their history. He can steal a base and get around third to score more times than not, thus always putting the pressure on the defense.
Gold Glove | AVG .279 | 3B 33 | OPS .706
Tim Salmon – Played all 14 of his MLB seasons with the Angels and considered an icon of the organization (“Mr. Angel”). Despite some all-star caliber seasons he was never elected to the All-Star team, though should have been a number of times. His keen eye at the plate, power, and ability to hit above average made for a long outstanding career.
Rookie of the Year | AVG .282 | OPS .884 | HR 299 | RBI 1016
Garret Anderson – An outstanding hitter he was a mainstay throughout most of his 17-season career here. He has a flare for piling up extra base hits, twice leading the league in doubles. An average fielder, but a clutch performer, he was as consistent as a Manager could ask for every day highlighting why he played so many years.
All-Star | AVG .292 | 2B 522 | RUNS 1084 | OPS .785
Jim Edmonds – Though just squeezed out from the St. Louis Cardinal All-Time Greats roster, there is definitely a place for him with the franchise he also had some of his best seasons with. Smooth fielding with a bat to back up his ability at the plate, Edmonds was a star. He could get on base and wasn’t shy when it came to scoring runs, let alone knocking them in with his knack for the key timed hit.
All-Star/Gold Glove | AVG .284 | HITS 1949 | HR 393 | OPS .903
Darin Erstad – Earned a Gold Glove for his play one season in centerfield and another at firstbase. His story doesn’t stop there, his focused play and determination at the plate capped a batter than average ability to hit over 14 seasons, 11 of them with the Halos. In 2000 he had his best season, knocking out 240 hits to lead the league while batting .355.
All-Star/Gold Glove | AVG .282 | HITS 1697 | OPS .743 | FLD .996
Albie Pearson – Another one of the original Los Angeles Angels, he had a .275 career batting average while playing for them. He had an All-Star season in 1964 to surpass his Rookie of the Year accolades in 1958 with Washington.
All-Star/Rookie of the Year | AVG .270 | RUNS 485 | OPS .724
Notable Franchise Names That Missed The Cut.
Devon White was inconsistent for the Angels, yet flashy before heading to have his best seasons with the Blue Jays. Maicer Izturis started and ended his career in Canada with the Expos and Blue Jays, though in between for 8 seasons was a very consistent performer during his time with the Angels as a utility infielder. Adam Kennedy had a very nice career for the Halos, just missed making this Baseball Classics All-Time Greats Angels roster. Buck Rogers was a founding member of the Angels and long standing catcher, but unfortunately had a subpar career. Andy Messersmith had a fine MLB career which began with the Angels, though didn’t stay with the franchise long enough to qualify. John Lackey had a good tenure with the Angels, but fell short of his fellow staff members that made the list.
Here’s the starting lineup I recommend generally starting for the All-Time Great Los Angeles/California/Anaheim Angels:
- 3B – Chone Figgins
- 2B – Bobby Grich
- OF – Garret Anderson
- OF – Tim Salmon
- 1B – Wally Joyner
- OF – Jim Edmonds
- SS – Erick Aybar
- C – Bob Boone
- P – Nolan Ryan
We look forward to adding them to the Baseball Classics All-Time Greats later this year. Do you agree with our top 24 selections for the All-Time Los Angeles/California/Anaheim Angels? Who do you think is the best Angels player to ever play? What’s your favorite memory of this franchise? Let us know in the comments below!