The All-Time Los Angeles/California/Anaheim/Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim Team

For my High Heat Stats debut, I’m continuing a series I started on my personal blog, Left Field, in which I’m naming an all-time team for each of the 30 current MLB franchises, and in the process, offering my opinion as to their greatest eligible player who is not in the Hall of Fame.

I’m going to pick up where I left off on my blog, going alphabetically by geographic location. Then, I’ll circle back to the beginning and revisit/update the teams I’ve previously done. Fittingly, since I’d like to show there’s no east coast bias from this writer, I’m starting out west with the franchise that currently calls itself the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.

1979 Topps #477 - Bobby Grich

1979 Topps #477 – Bobby Grich

Franchise History

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (2005- )
Anaheim Angels (1997-2004)
California Angels (1965-1996)
Los Angeles Angels (1961-1964)

 

An asterisk (*) denotes a Hall of Famer.

Statistics referenced for each player are plate appearances (for hitters), innings pitched (for pitchers), Baseball-Reference WAR and Wins Above Average (WAA), OPS+ (for hitters) and ERA+ (for pitchers).

 

Starters

C – Brian Downing (1978-1990, 6912 PA, 35.3 WAR, 15.8 WAA, 126 OPS+)
He only caught for two-plus seasons with the Angels, but I had to find a place in the starting lineup for the player who ranks third in team history in position player WAR and among the top five in numerous offensive categories (including OBP, runs, hits, total bases, home runs, RBI, and OPS+).

1B – Darin Erstad (1996-2006, 5789 PA, 30.4 WAR, 12.9 WAA, 96 OPS+)
Erstad just as easily could have been the center fielder, but I opted for him here, because I liked this team’s other center field option better than its remaining first base options.

2B – Bobby Grich (1977-1986, 4876 PA, 32.9 WAR, 19.1 WAA, 124 OPS+)
The greatest player who should be wearing an Angels cap on a Hall of Fame plaque, in my opinion, and certainly that of a lot of other folks. Grich ranks 7th among eligible non-Hall of Famers in wWAR. [He’s actually 6th–not counting Pete Rose and Joe Jackson–on the list this link directs to, but I believe he’s now 7th based on the as-yet-unpublished newest calculation of wWAR.]

SS – Jim Fregosi (1961-1971, 5945 PA, 43.3 WAR, 26.5 WAA, 116 OPS+)
Maybe somewhat surprisingly, Fregosi is the Angels’ all-time leader in position player WAR.

3B – Troy Glaus (1998-2004, 3479 PA, 20.8 WAR, 10.3 WAA, 120 OPS+)
The 2002 World Series MVP earns the nod at the hot corner.

LF – Garret Anderson (1994-2008, 8480 PA, 23.7 WAR, -1.7 WAA, 105 OPS+)
The advanced metrics don’t think as highly of the Angels’ all-time leader in numerous categories (including runs, hits, total bases and RBI) as he was regarded when he was hitting 3rd, 4th and 5th in the team’s lineup all those years, but he’s still good enough to earn a starting job.

CF – Jim Edmonds (1993-1999, 2951 PA, 19.1 WAR, 10.3 WAA, 119 OPS+)
Edmonds was better in St. Louis than Anaheim, but he still played well enough for the Angels to make the starting nine.

RF – Tim Salmon (1992-2004, 2006; 7039 PA, 37.1 WAR, 16.1 WAA, 128 OPS+)
The team’s career home runs leader is also the longest tenured career Angel on this team.

DH – Vladimir Guerrero (2004-2009, 3606 PA, 20.9 WAR, 10.0 WAA, 141 OPS+)
Since almost 80% of the team’s existence has been in the DH era, this lineup needs a DH, and the Angels’ all-time leader in OPS+ is the perfect candidate for the job.

 

Rotation

Chuck Finley (1986-1999, 2675 IP, 48.7 WAR, 27.1 WAA, 118 ERA+)
The underrated Finley is the team’s career leader in pitching WAR and wins, and earns the spot as the ace of the rotation.

Nolan Ryan* (1972-1979, 2181 IP, 37.6 WAR, 20.3 WAA, 115 ERA+)
No offense to Texas, but Ryan should be wearing an Angels cap on his Hall of Fame plaque.

Frank Tanana (1973-1980, 1615 IP, 32.5 WAR, 19.7 WAA, 118 ERA+)
I had Frank Tanana’s autograph as a kid, but that didn’t influence my decision. He seriously deserves to be here.

Jered Weaver (2006- , 1292 IP, 27.2 WAR, 16.5 WAA, 128 ERA+)
The only active Angel among the starters on this team is under contract until 2016, so if he keeps it up, we could eventually see him at or near the top of this rotation.

Mark Langston (1990-1997, 1445 IP, 24.4 WAR, 12.6 WAA, 109 ERA+)
Langston still carries around the dubious distinction of being the key piece the Expos got in return when they traded a young Randy Johnson, but he had a nice career otherwise.

 

Closer

Francisco Rodriguez (2002-2008, 452 IP, 15.5 WAR, 8.9 WAA, 189 ERA+)
I’ll wonder aloud if Percival would be the popular pick among Angels fans, but I can’t help but favor K-Rod’s 189 to 157 ERA+ advantage as the deciding factor, considering the two are virtually equal based on the value metrics.

 

Reserves

C – Bob Boone (1982-1988, 3391 PA, 10.8 WAR, 1.2 WAA, 71 OPS+)
1B – Rod Carew* (1979-1985, 3570 PA, 16.2 WAR, 6.2 WAA, 119 OPS+)
IF/OF – Chone Figgins (2002-2009, 4075 PA, 20.8 WAR, 8.5 WAA, 99 OPS+)
3B – Doug DeCinces (1982-1987, 3268 PA, 17.5 WAR, 8.5 WAA, 117 OPS+)
OF – Torii Hunter (2008- , 2913 PA, 18.7 WAR, 9.8 WAA, 121 OPS+)

I’m sure there are some who would have Boone and Carew as starters. But, I prefer Downing’s offense to Boone’s defense, and Carew provides a good example of my all-time team philosophy of not letting a player’s entire career overshadow his performance with the team in question. Figgins’ inclusion might seem a bit surprising at first, but his Angels years were quite good and his versatility was invaluable.

 

Bullpen

John Lackey (2002-2009, 1501 IP, 22.9 WAR, 10.5 WAA, 116 ERA+)
Troy Percival (1995-2004, 587 IP, 16.2 WAR, 8.2 WAA, 157 ERA+)
Dean Chance (1961-1966, 1237 IP, 19.1 WAR, 10.3 WAA, 122 ERA+)
Jarrod Washburn (1998-2005, 1153 IP, 18.7 WAR, 9.2 WAA, 114 ERA+)
Scot Shields (2001-2010, 697 IP, 11.4 WAR, 5.5 WAA, 139 ERA+)

I should explain my philosophy with bullpens here. They generally will only consist of one or two actual relief pitchers, in addition to the closer. Most of the time–and this is especially true with the older franchises–a team’s sixth, seventh, and even eighth best starting pitcher had a career more worthy of celebration than their third, fourth of fifth best relief pitcher.

 

Manager

Mike Scioscia (2000- , 1143-943 W-L, 1 WS)
Scioscia’s teams haven’t had much postseason success, other than winning the 2002 World Series, but he could be building himself a nice Hall of Fame case.

 

So, there you have it. My all-time team for the American League’s 10th oldest franchise.

Let me know what you think in the comments. Who would you add? Who would you subtract? Would you not change a thing? Or, tell me who would make up your all-time Los Angeles/California/Anaheim/Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim team.

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Steven Page
Steven Page
9 years ago

Welcome aboard! I like the format you are using for your lists. I’m looking forward to reading your take on other teams.

I’m not a regular follower of the Angels, but I like a lot of your selections from the 70’s, when I did keep up with them more closely. Bobby Grich is a great choice, as is Jim Fregosi, and Frank Tanana was all too often lost in the shadow of Nolan Ryan.

James Smyth
9 years ago
Reply to  Steven Page

Grich certainly is a good choice…as far as HOF goes, he’s deserving but unfortunately in the same boat as Lou Whitaker. Both were superb-fielding, high-on base second basemen who are major HOF snubs after falling off the ballot after one year with less than three percent of the vote.

Welcome Dan, and great post!

bstar
bstar
9 years ago
Reply to  Steven Page

I really liked the format as well. The bold, larger type separating the different parts of the team is easy on the eyes. Thorough examination, well done!

Luis Gomez
Luis Gomez
9 years ago

I think I wouldn´t change anything, you got it right on the money. Also, I like the fact that you used a 1970´s baseball card. Great post.

Andy
Admin
9 years ago

I think a pretty decent argument could be made for Wally Joyner as the reserve at 1B: 17.4 WAR, 6.6 WAA, 121 OPS+ over 3774 PAs. Better numbers in more plate appearances than Rod Carew.

Nick Pain
Nick Pain
9 years ago

I would put Wally Joyner on the bench over Carew. They’re pretty similar in OPS+ and WAR, with Joyner having the slight edge in both. It’s more that I remember when Joyner’s rookie cards were a big deal.

As a Vermont homer, I’d also put in UVM’s own Kirk McCaskill, over whom I’m not sure, probably Shields.

Also, Mike Trout is already in the top 25 in position WAR for the Angels. I would say the kid can play.

Andy
Admin
9 years ago
Reply to  Nick Pain

Nick, you and I were on the same page there, posting about Joyner at the same time.

Never mind the fact that I used to call him “Wally Groiner”.

Nick Pain
Nick Pain
9 years ago
Reply to  Andy

Heh heh, groin.

Andy
Andy
9 years ago
Reply to  Dan McCloskey

When I do rankings like this, I often find that I need to use a subjective element. However it seems that subjective element is often required for something sort of like cognitive dissonance to explain something that doesn’t seem to make sense from the numbers. And so I often think that the subjective element is a crutch or an excuse for why I think the way I do, rather than going back and reevaluating my thinking once I have looked at the actual numbers.

Nick Pain
Nick Pain
9 years ago
Reply to  Dan McCloskey

Dan, a lot of times when creating a list like this players will be so close one will have to use some subjectivity. If strict numbers were used, there would be no room for discussion, and where’s the fun in that.

Adam Darowski
Admin
9 years ago
Reply to  Dan McCloskey

I, obviously, love my wWAR framework. That said, I do keep tweaking it to make it better. So, there’s that aspect.

When building lists like this, I think it is important to look at the limitations of your framework. For wWAR, that includes things like time lost to war, because of the color line, misuse, etc.

Adam Darowski
Admin
9 years ago
Reply to  Adam Darowski

Right. There are some things about the latest wWAR results that bug me, even though overall I feel it is the best version ever. But in many cases, I know WHY the results are the way they are. I know why Roy Campanella no longer rates as a Hall of Famer. I know why Sandy Koufax appears right on the borderline. I also know that if my borderline is 100, it doesn’t mean that all guys above 100 belong and that all guys below 100 don’t. It really just means that something like 90–110 or 95–105 represents the borderline. Anyone… Read more »

bstar
bstar
9 years ago
Reply to  Dan McCloskey

Dan, I think Tango’s statement, and Joe Poz’ subsequent article, were more about choosing rWAR over fWAR, or the reverse, or a combination of the two, whatever. But make that choice, and be consistent with it. Don’t quote your favorite player’s fWAR because it’s higher than his rWAR, then use rWAR for another player you like. I don’t think adding subjectivity really violates this.

JDV
JDV
9 years ago
Reply to  Nick Pain

Ouch! Joyner probably should be the back-up 1st Baseman…to Carew! Erstad and Edmonds can be the CF combo.

Adam Darowski
Admin
9 years ago

I have loved this series and recommending reading the rest over at Dan’s Left Field blog. Great stuff.

I love the format used here, too.

In particular, I love that rotation. Talk about a bunch of underrated arms. I mean, how many people really realize how good Chuck Finley, Frank Tanana, and Mark Langston were? My framework has Finley as a deserving Hall of Famer with Tanana and Langston right below the borderline. There are several Hall of Fame pitchers below them.

Andy
Admin
9 years ago
Reply to  Adam Darowski

NO. NOBODY MAY CLICK AWAY FROM HIGH HEAT STATS.

EstebanNotYan
EstebanNotYan
9 years ago
Reply to  Andy

Um, yes sir. By the way, is the HHS RSS feed dead? I was wondering why, despite the injection of several new writers, there were no new articles being posted. Looks like the RSS feed got stuck a few days ago.

Andy
Admin
9 years ago
Reply to  EstebanNotYan
birtelcom
Editor
9 years ago

As you mention, Troy Glaus was the 2002 World Series MVP. But he also put up amazing numbers in the Angels’ 2002 Division Series, in the 2002 ALCS and then again in the Angels’ 2004 Division Series. A total of 348 men have accumulated at least 50 career PAs in post-season games for American League teams. The top career OPS numbers for those guys in those games:
1. Troy Glaus 1.246
2. Babe Ruth 1.211
3. Lou Gehrig 1.208

Jim Bouldin
Jim Bouldin
9 years ago

Thanks for the nice article Dan. Now let’s fight 🙂

Surely you’re not putting Darin Erstad above Rod Carew as your all-time Angels first sacker are you? Just because Carew was off the charts as a Twin doesn’t mean he wasn’t great as an Angel also. In 7 years–and the last of his career– he averaged a .314 BA, nearly .400 OBP and a 119 OPS+. I mean, the guy was an instant HOF pick for a reason.

Jim Bouldin
Jim Bouldin
9 years ago
Reply to  Dan McCloskey

The mention of the HOF was just an afterthought. I’m not sure what numbers you’re looking at, but what I see, for an Angels tenure, for Erstad and Carew are: BA OBP SLG OPS OPS+ .286 .341 .416 .756 96 .314 .393 .392 .784 119 And Carew was doing that at the *end* of his career, while Erstad was doing it in the prime of his. The fact that Erstad won a single gold glove at 1B hardly compensates for this difference in my view. One of those two guys was one of the greatest hitters MLB has ever seen,… Read more »

Alex Putterman
Alex Putterman
9 years ago
Reply to  Dan McCloskey

Might the solution be that WAR isn’t the answer in cases like this one? The positional differences render WAR ineffective in making the comparison, so it seems necessary to me to look instead at the components that comprise WAR. Jim pointed out above that Carew had the better offensive numbers, and by a wide enough margin that I don’t think any baserunning or fielding advantage Erstad may have had makes up for the difference. Maybe the plate appearance difference would have, though I’m not sure. It’s awfully hard to accumulate WAR as a first baseman with a sub-100 OPS+. It… Read more »

Jim Bouldin
Jim Bouldin
9 years ago
Reply to  Dan McCloskey

But more fundamentally, WAR is a cumulative statistic. You have to normalize it somehow, either by games played or plate apprearances.

no statistician but
no statistician but
9 years ago

I’m neither an Angels fan nor a follower of the team—or not until this year when Pujols and Trout grabbed my attention for differing reasons—but I do have an opinion on one player, Dean Chance. He was the first true pitching star of any magnitude whose career developed exclusively on an expansion team, the first to win a major award, and his stats are fairly interchangeable with those of Langston, considering his somewhat shorter career with the Angels. I’d swap the two.

Ed
Ed
9 years ago

Speaking of Dean Chance…he has the lowest career batting average of anyone with 300+ PAs. His slash line is truly something to behold: .066/.113/.069. Only 44 hits in 759 PA (662 ABs) and only two of his hits were for extra bases (both doubles). His career OPS+ is -46 and his career batting WAR is -4.9.

Insert Name Here
Insert Name Here
9 years ago

I did a similar all-time teams series over at the quiz site Sporcle. My version for the Angels is here:

http://www.sporcle.com/games/redsoxfan24/all-time-orange-county-ballclub-team

My teams were assembled using a method centered on WAR. I made this awhile go, so WAR has been considerably updated by then, and I don’t quite remember how I did it, so it can’t be updated. However, what results is a team quite similar to Dan’s.

I have versions for all 30 teams, all of which (among other quizzes) can be found between these 2 pages, which are for my two user accounts at Sporcle:

http://www.sporcle.com/user/redsoxfan34/contributed

http://www.sporcle.com/user/redsoxfan24/contributed

Lee Mazzola
9 years ago

Nicely done, mate. My “All-Time Best Prog Rock Lineups” series will be starting soon as well.