The Mount Rushmore of the Los Angeles Angels of Ahaheim

1982 Fleer #461 Bobby Grich - I love '82 Fleer. The photos were quite unusual, and this one is no exception, showing Grich about to enter his stride. I also love the shot of the other photographer sitting in the background

Just to be clear, this poll includes all iterations of the Angels franchise, including the Anaheim Angels, California Angels, and Los Angeles Angels dating back to 1961.

This team had a couple of long post-season droughts from 1961 to 1978 and from 1987 to 2001. In 2002 they broke through and won the World Series, part of a string of 6 playoff appearances in 8 years. Lately, though, they’ve been playing second fiddle to the other 1961 expansion team, the Texas Rangers (whom we’ll look at next.)

Before you click through, see if you can guess who the all-time team leader in WAR is…hint: it’s a pitcher.

Here are the Angels’ leaders in WAR among batters:

Rk Player WAR/pos From To
1 Jim Fregosi 43.3 1961 1971
2 Tim Salmon 37.1 1992 2006
3 Brian Downing 35.3 1978 1990
4 Bobby Grich 32.9 1977 1986
5 Darin Erstad 30.4 1996 2006
6 Garret Anderson 23.7 1994 2008
7 Chone Figgins 21.0 2002 2009
8 Vladimir Guerrero 21.0 2004 2009
9 Troy Glaus 20.7 1998 2004
10 Jim Edmonds 19.1 1993 1999
11 Doug DeCinces 17.5 1982 1987
12 Wally Joyner 17.4 1986 2001
13 Rod Carew 16.2 1979 1985
14 Adam Kennedy 16.1 2000 2006
15 Torii Hunter 15.2 2008 2012
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 5/29/2012.

Fregosi’s probably not the first guy you thought of…Tim Salmon, Darren Erstad, and Garret Anderson are really the only guys here who played most or all of their careers with the Angels. The vast majority of the rest of these leaders had a lot of success elsewhere.

Let’s take a look at pitchers:

Rk Player WAR From To
1 Chuck Finley 48.7 1986 1999
2 Nolan Ryan 37.6 1972 1979
3 Frank Tanana 32.5 1973 1980
4 Jered Weaver 25.6 2006 2012
5 Mark Langston 24.4 1990 1997
6 John Lackey 22.9 2002 2009
7 Mike Witt 19.6 1981 1990
8 Dean Chance 19.1 1961 1966
9 Jarrod Washburn 18.7 1998 2005
10 Troy Percival 16.2 1995 2004
11 Francisco Rodriguez 15.5 2002 2008
12 Andy Messersmith 13.6 1968 1972
13 Kirk McCaskill 13.3 1985 1991
14 Kelvim Escobar 13.3 2004 2009
15 Jim Abbott 12.9 1989 1996
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 5/29/2012.

There’s your franchise leader–Chuck Finley. It’s just a shame that he wasn’t around when the Angels won the championship, or else he’d get the first spot on the monument.

We’ve got to consider Mike Scioscia as well–the manager during the team’s best run. Scott Spiezio also comes to mind for his contributions to the 2002 run.

Please vote for 4:


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47 Comments on "The Mount Rushmore of the Los Angeles Angels of Ahaheim"

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Steven Page
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Jim Fergosi is one of those guys who belongs in the “Hall of Very Good”. He was a childhood favorite of mine. Ryan and Tanana were a great combo, and gave my Negamco Baseball A’s fits in the middle 70’s.

Hartvig
Guest

For me, Fergosi, Salmon & Finley are relatively easy picks- Fergosi was the teams first big star, Salmon has long been a favorite of mine and Finley’s ex- might show up so they’re in. After some internal deliberation I decided that since I didn’t vote to put Ryan in as a Met, Astro or Ranger that this was where he belonged. Apologies to the always under-appreciated Bobby Grich, fellow North Dakotan Darin Erstad and long-time Angel Garret Anderson.

Steven
Guest

Fregosi, Bill Rigney, Nolan Ryan, Dean Chance.

Paul E
Guest

Fregosi even has the highest WAR/100 PA’s amongst the top 10 batters. Er-f’in-go:

Fregosi, Finley, Ryan, and Salmon. 3 of 4 from the ur-gun-EYE-za-shun and the 4th (Ryan) became a star after a brief time in NY and, oddly enough, was acquired for the franchise’s first star, Fregosi.

I wonder what percentage of fans in the ’60’s even realized how much of a star Fregosi really was. In 1964, 3rd greatest season ever by a 22 year old SS, as measured by WAR, behind only A-Rod and Ripken

e pluribus munu
Guest

What! No Bo Belinsky? Sic transit. . . .

I agree with Hartvig: this is the place for Ryan. But during his California days, I felt his pitching was all heat and no light (I’m sure I would have changed my worldview to accommodate it if he’d stayed a Met). What I did like was the team he made with Tanana – really dynamite in those days – so I picked them together. Fregosi and Salmon were my others. Regrets to Grich.

Jim Abbott should have his own mountain.

Yippeeyappee
Guest

Dead on with my picks. However, if Bo Belinsky’s wife would show up via time machine from the ’60s, he’d have a strong case.

Matthew Glidden
Guest

Good to see Fregosi at the top of the heap. Does he get an assist for helping deliver Nolan Ryan in trade?

MikeD
Guest

Ryan, Salmon and Fregosi, who gets votes for being an excellent player and bringing Ryan back in the trade with the Mets.

Ed
Guest

It’s odd that a franchise that’s been around as long as the Angels doesn’t have a readily identifiable superstar associated with them. The Mets have Seaver, the Royals have Brett, the Padres have Gwynn, the Brewers have Yount. The Angels have no one to compare to those guys. As far as I know, they’ve always had plenty of money to retain their own free agents. And being in LA ought to give them an advantage as well. But for some reason, they’ve never had “that guy”.

MikeD
Guest

I had a similar thought. It’s a team that has resources and have used it to buy talent over the years, going back to Baylor, Reggie, Bostock up to today with players like Hunter, Wilson and of course Pujols. I kept expecting to find their Seaver or Brett.

Nolan Ryan comes the closest. I still associate him with the Angels more than any other team.

From what I’ve seen so far, maybe Mike Trout will be that player if we have this poll again in fifteen years hence.

Ed
Guest

Good thoughts everyone. I agree that Ryan is probably the best fit. But it seems like he became a better pitcher after he left the Angels. Plus, he was only there for 8 years.

I actually think Jered Weaver could become that guy but we’ll have to see how he bounces back from his current injury.

Doug
Guest

Good point, Ed.

It seems the Angels have always suffered from “the grass is always greener somewhere else” syndrome, preferring to acquire other team’s free agents (usually when they’re past their prime), rather than retaining their own talent. So, they acquire top flight stars in mid-career (e.g. Grich, Carew, Lynn, Jackson, Guerrero, Pujols, etc.), but hang on to almost none of their own talent past the age of 30 (Salmon, Anderson, anyone else?).

nightfly
Guest
Well, even if he wasn’t a star on the same level as Seaver or Brett or Gwynn, Tim Salmon did spend his entire career with the Halos, so he’s got that going for him… which is nice. I don’t think of Erstad anywhere else, either. But you have a point, it’s not like Geoff Zahn is threatening to join this group. A lot of their guys had strong years with the Angels, and a similarly-strong stint elsewhere. I think of Carew as a Twin as much as an Angel, for example. I think of Frank Tanana as a Tiger. They’re… Read more »
CursedClevelander
Guest

I went with Scioscia, Grich, Finley and Salmon, though I could have easily been persuaded to drop any of them for Fregosi, Ryan, or Tanana.

I have a feeling if we do this again in 10 years, Jered Weaver will supplant Chuck Finley.

Phil
Guest

Outside of my hometown Jays, this the hardest one yet for me (and for the opposite reason, cited by Ed in comment #8 above). Ryan, I guess, even though I’ve already picked him for the Astros (should have held off). Salmon and Downing for longevity + good play. I should go with Fregosi under the first-career-star rule, but I’ll take Finley instead.

Michael Sullivan
Guest
I’m surprised to see Anderson getting a lot more votes than Erstad. I associate both of them, along with Salmon as the stars/core of the team that won the Series. Erstad played for the Angels for 11 years and put up 30.4 WAR, significantly above average, with a number of all-star level years. Anderson played for them 15 years and put up 23.7 WAR. That’s a great long career, but it’s a long career as basically a borderline everyday player on average. I debated hard between Darin Erstad, Bobby Grich and Nolan Ryan for the fourth spot after Finley, Salmon… Read more »
birtelcom
Guest
M Sullivan @16: Regarding your point about Erstad and Anderson compared to average level instead of compared to replacement level, I note that b-ref now includes a Wins Above Average (WAA) number in the player pages in addition to Wins Above Replacement (WAR). WAA numbers are not yet searchable in the Play Index, so far as I can tell, but one can check them player by player. In the case of Anderson and Erstad, the WAA numbers fully confirm your observation, Michael: Anderson ends up with a slightly net negative WAA for his Angels career as a whole, while Erstad… Read more »
Steven
Guest

And a tip of the Halo to Bo Belinsky, Leon Wagner, Ed Kirkpatrick and Bob Rodgers.

brp
Guest

Granted that I’m too young to remember Ryan as pitching for anyone but Texas, but I associated him much more strongly with both Houston and Texas than with the Angels. He’s FROM Texas after all, and now he runs the team… it’s hard for me to shake that, I guess.

I’m willing to acquiesce to your guys’ knowledge on the Halos, though; never did stay up late enough to care about what their team did.

MikeD
Guest

I can certainly understand the Texas connection. He also did become a better pitcher in his later years, but the reputation of who and what we think of when we think of the Ryan Express comes from his days with the Angels. It’s where he established himself as the see-fastball, hit-fastball gunslinger, who set the MLB single-season strikeout record, as well as at the time the single-game record, and actually did throw a baseball at 108.1 mph. He pitched more games and innings for the Angels than any one team.

Mike L
Guest

I think a lot of people always thought of Ryan as a freak talent-they only other contemporary player I can compare to him would be Randy Johnson, who also was able to harness things as he got older. He averaged 6.1 BB/9 for the Mets, and 5.4 BB/9 for the Angels-through the first 13 seasons of his career. And honestly-he was a freak talent. His career ERA+ was 112, he had only three seasons above 140 (two of which were less than 200 innings) which isn’t exceptional, yet he had all those strikeouts, no hitters, etc.

e pluribus munu
Guest

Yes, but to me, Ryan’s talent seemed coupled with self-indulgence: for so many years he didn’t seem to have an interest in moving beyond his one-dimensional talent. Extraordinary as that was for the record book totals, it did not translate into added wins for his team. I remember years ago, perhaps during his Houston days, totaling up Ryan/team W-L percentages and finding that nothing seemed added in terms of his actual decisions. (Of course, with the more detailed records about ND starts, etc., and technology beyond pencil, yellow pad, and long division, those old calculations could be proved wrong.)

MikeD
Guest
I’ve gone back and forth on Ryan over the years. I used to take the side he wasn’t as great as he was made out to be (he wasn’t because his press clipping exceeded his results), but then when it became more common among some to question if he was delivering any value (yeah, there were people like that), then I found myself on the other end of the discussions. The thing is, we want Ryan to be greater than his final won-loss record indicates because he was one of more supremely and uniquely talented pitchers to ever play the… Read more »
Mike L
Guest
What makes Ryan so fascinating is that his record appears to be a hybrid of certain aspects of the most dominating pitchers coupled with aspects of others who had very long careers but didn’t necessarily achieve the same level of dominance. He had all those K’s and no hitters, and that incredibly low h/9 inning ratio, but then, when you compare his overall ERA+ and his seasonal highs for ERA+ he doesn’t look like a dominant pitcher, just a good one with great longevity. He’s tied for 270th in lifetime ERA+. On a seasonal level, he’s not better than more… Read more »
Weak Sauce
Guest

Where’s the only MVP the Angels have had?

No Don Baylor? #Fail

Also, you should probably put Pujols as a consideration.

Lawrence Azrin
Guest

Vladimir Guerrero won the MVP in 2004 with the Angels.

Baylor’s 1979 MVP was one of the weaker selections in recent memory. Still, Baylor would be a decent addition to the choices.

Phil Jacobson
Guest

1. Surprised not to see Gene Autry for consideration.

2. Tim Salmon won’t be regarded as one of the greats but he’s a ridiculous class act. Being an Angels fan, I’m intimately versed on how fair-weather the fans can be here. And in Salmon’s first interview after winning the series, he thanked the fans. The same fans who barely pulled 2 million in attendance during his career. The same fans who would later go on to boo Scot Shields.

Jason Z
Guest

Nolan Ryan became Nolan Ryan with the Angels, he is obvious.

The other three are Jim Fregosi, Tim Salmon and Chuck Finley.

Finley makes it largely due to the presence of Tawny Kitaen
in the locker room after games in the early 90’s.

If you don’t know who I am talking about watch Bachelor Party.

Gary Bateman
Guest

I think it is interesting that Ryan played four all four of the initial expansion franchises–and no one else. With the exception of the Mets, he has a case to be on each of their Mt Rushmores.

nightfly
Guest

Now that would be an awesome Mt. Rushmore – Mt. Ryanmore, with Nolan in the four caps of the teams he played for.

Kirk
Guest

Got to go with the first face of the franchise and the long time hero Fregosi and Salmon. Then I like Downing just because he was the first lead off hitter I remember who was put there to get on base and not just because he was fast. Lastly of course is Sam Axe.

MikeD
Guest
I know Carew is one of the choices, but to me he’s a Twin. He won all seven of his batting titles and his MVP as a Twin. Looking at his record, one thing jumped out at me that I think must be rare. He won a batting title in 1972 by hitting “only” .318 that year. That’s lower than his career batting average, which got me to wondering. How many players in the history of the game have won a batting title with an average lower than their final career average? Cobb did it and so did Gwynn. Anyone… Read more »
nightfly
Guest

Excellent question. Looks like Cobb actually did it twice, which is insane.

As far as I can see so far, you’ve got Ted Williams, 1947 (.343) and 1958 (.328) both below his .344 career average; and Edd Roush, .321 in 1919 below his .323 career average.

Lawrence Azrin
Guest

Lifetime BA higher than league-leading BA:
– Billy Hamilton; 1891 – .340, lifetime – .344
– Dan Brouthers; 1892 – .335, lifetime – .342
– Elmer Flick; 1905 – .308, lifetime – .313

Carew, Cobb, Gwynn, Roush and Gwynn already mentioned.

If we’re talking OBA, Ted Williams did it four times; SLG, Babe Ruth did it three times and Williams twice.

Tmckelv
Guest

Ryan – since this is the only team I would include him for
Salmon
Finley
and Percival over Tanana.

Special nod to Dean Chance for early franchise success.

Lawrence Azrin
Guest

I am surprised that Mike Scioscia has not gotten more votes. In the twelve years since he became the Angels manager in 2000, he has:

– 6 playoff appearances
– 3 ALDS appearances
– World Series win (2002)
– .547 W/L%
– two ‘Manager of the Year’ Awards (2002, 2009)

He’s been the manager during their most successfulperiod ever, that sounds like “face of the franchise” to me.

Voomo Zanzibar
Guest

Fregosi, Finley, Ryan, and Dean Chance.

I wrote-in Chance on the poll, but it looks like the write-in option doesn’t exactly work. I think the vote just comes up as “other.”

Chance was an original Angel, and his era+ in 1964 has only been bettered 15 times since then.

He had back-to-back 2 hitters, and a string of three shutouts in a row.
He also followed up a 15 strikeout 2-hitter with a 14 inning shutout ND performance.

http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/gl.cgi?id=chancde01&t=p&year=1964

One odd thing – his player page lists the year as being 200 era+.
But the all-time era+ leaders have the year at a 198.

http://www.baseball-reference.com/leaders/earned_run_avg_plus_season.shtml

Doug
Guest

Like Cobb and williams, Gwynn also twice won batting titles with averages below his career mark.

Todd
Guest
I am biased in that I became a baseball fan in 1980 so my frame of reference is biased towards the last 32 years. My top 4 in no particular order are Grich, Downing, Fregosi and Finley. Grich defined everything cool about the California Angels, they brought in veterans that knew how to play the game the right way even when the team didn’t have the best results on the scoreboard. Downing was one of the forerunners of the modern infatuation with OBP as a stat. Looking back at his history, Fregosi is arguably the greatest Angel ever as defined… Read more »
Alan
Guest
Just shocked that Carew is not getting more love on this list. As a long-time SoCal resident, I remember the days when he was the ONLY bright spot in watching an Angels game – we could usually cheer about Rod getting a hit if nothing else. He played over 800 games and hit .314 over that span. Salmon deserves to be there. No doubt about his contributions. Weaver, as good as he is and probably will be, need not be considered so highly just yet. And he gets ranked higher than Glaus? Injustice. Ryan is Ryan, and pretty much ranks… Read more »
Brian Powell
Guest

Mike Trout is already the top Angels position player of all time. It is really too bad that they can’t get him more help.

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