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.
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).
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counting Pete Rose and Joe Jackson–on the list this link directs to, but I believe he’s now 7th based on the as-yet-unpublished newest calculation of wWAR.]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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.