The 10 Best Angels Players In Club History

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Let the debate begin. Who are the best Angels players of all time?

Here’s a compilation based on the following criteria:

Longevity: these selections honor tenure and productivity. Time in an Angels uniform is paramount.

Team Leadership: Post-season distinctions matter. Some members on this list were part of the World  Series champion 2002 team.

Thus, with apologies to Rod Carew, who distinguished himself here but went into the MLB Hall of Fame as a Minnesota Twin, here’s a Top 10.

We’ll open with a couple of honorable mentions, or wild cards.

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Wild Card Hitter: Vladimir Guerrero

How do you land on an All-Time team with only six years of service?

Major intangibles.

Guerrero was the first MLB player to go into the Hall of Fame as an Angel.

Here are some other arguments:

Vladdy won the American League MVP Award in 2004.  That launched a sizzling six-year production cycle for him here.

He hit 173 homers and drove in 616 runs as an Angel, averaging 29 homers and more than 102 RBI per season. He had four straight years with more than 100 RBI.

And look at these averages to go with it: .337, 317, .329, .324, .303 and .295. No other Angels power hitter has ever demonstrated batting average prowess like this.

The MVP Award and batting average indicate that had Guerrero spent most of his career with the Angles, he’s in the bottom end of his list.

But he’s still one of the all-time best.

Wild Card Pitcher: Frank Tanana

The all-time team leader in WHIP and third in ERA.  Contender for Cy Young Award during the peak of his Angels career running from 1972-1980.

The Angels have a wealth of great pitchers. Some on this list may be considered interchangeable.

10. Bobby Grich

Here’s a link to Angels teams that made the post-season in 1979, 1982 and 1986.

Only he and Brian Downing have that distinction.

The 1979 season was statistically his finest. He clubbed 30 homers and knocked in 101 runs, both career highs. Grich batted a stellar .294.

He was having a better season in 1981, leading the majors with 22 homers and he had knocked in 61. But the strike that wiped out a third of the season prevented what could have been his finest campaign ever.

Grich was an Angel from 1977-86.

Remains the longest-tenured second-baseman in team history.

9. Darrin Erstad

Someone who can be appreciated even more in retrospect.

He was an Angels star from 1996-2006 and was pivotal in their 2002 World Series championship.

Look at this 2000 season, primarily as a leadoff hitter: 25 homers, 100 RBI, 28 stolen bases, 121 runs scored, a whopping .355 average and 240 hits.

That’s one for the ages. 

How impressive is 240 hits? In the modern era, only Ichiro Suzuki (262 and  242) has more in one season.

In 2002, he had 10 homers and 73 RBI in helping the Angels win it all.

Erstad is fourth in the team with total hits (1505) and fifth in runs scored (818).

Blue chip.

8.  Brian Downing

Gets points for timely production.

He not only played for the Angles from 1978-90, but helped them reach the post-season in 1978, 1982  and 1986. 

In 1979, he notched a career-high .326 average en route to his only All-Star appearance. In 1982, he hit 29 homers and in 1986, he drove home a career-high 95 runs as the Angels came within an out of reaching the World  Series.

He recorded between 20 and 29 homers five years in a row.

Still among the all-time team leaders with 222 homers.

7. Chuck Finley

Longevity points for appearing with the Angels from 1986-99. 

That helped him obtain the franchise record for wins, 165. Finley reached 200 for his career.

He is the franchise leader in career innings with 2,675 and second in Nolan Ryan in strikeouts.

Enjoyed an excellent three-year stretch from 1989-91, compiling win totals of 16, 18  and 18. Best season came in 1990 with an 18-9 mark and a 2.40 ERA with 177 strikeouts.

Not an overpowering pitcher, but was a strong year-in, year-out player.

6. Mike Witt

A stalwart for the 80’s, he was with the Angels from 1981-89.

Witt’s finest campaign came in 1986. He won a career-high 18 games, struck out 208 and had an ERA of 2.84.

In the post-season, he pitched a complete-game victory against the Boston Red Sox and was one out away from pitching the team into the World  Series. But the safe Game 5 lead he left with was blown by the bullpen. The Angels lost that game and the next two, missing the World Series.

5. Jered Weaver

His 150 career wins are second on the team. So are his 2,025 innings and WHIP of 1.19.

Weaver was in the top 5 three times for the Cy Young Award.

In 2011, he was 18-6 with 198 strikeouts and an ERA of 2.41. His WHIP was 1.01.

One year later, he went 20-5 with a 2.81 ERA. His WHIP was 1.018.

Made the All-Star team in 2010-12.

4. Tim Salmon

He is right up there in all of the Angels’ lifetime categories.

His 299 home runs are second to Mike Trout. The 1016 RBI is second only to Garrett Anderson. The 1674 hits only trail Anderson,  as do his 339 doubles.

Salmon has another intangible Angel fans love. He played his entire career here, from 1992-2004.

Along the way, he had four 30 +home-run seasons and with two with more than 100 RBI.

For the World Series champion Angels in 2002, he slugged 22 homers with 88 RBI.

3. Garrett Anderson

An integral part of the only Los Angeles Angles championship. In 2002, he hit 306 with 29 homers and 123 RBI. He was a rock in the heart of the Angels lineup from  1994-2008.  He had four consecutive seasons of more than 100 RBI and was simply a machine.

Anderson holds several franchise records including single-game RBI (10 in 2007), hitting streak (28 games in 1998), postseason at-bats (147), postseason RBI (22).

His longevity mark includes leading the team in overall games played with  2013 games, 2358 hits and 1,292 RBI.

Until Mike Trout arrived, the most prolific Angels hitter ever.

2. Nolan Ryan 

You think induction into the baseball Hall of Fame puts him high on this list? Even as a Texas Ranger? We do too.

Ryan had five seasons of more than 300 strikeouts in the 1970s. He established an MLB season mark of 383 K’s in 973. Ryan’s 156 complete games are a franchise record. His 22 wins in 1974 are tied for  a franchise mark. And his 40 shutouts are far and away a team record. He completed more than 20 games five times during a six-year stretch.

Ryan had  2,416 strikeouts, tops all-time for the Angeles.

During his tenure with the Angles, he had a 3.07 ERA, second-best in team history. He also twirled four no hitters and six one-hitters here.

It seems like Ryan did everything here. Hard to believe that he actually played 14 seasons after leaving.

1. Mike Trout

The ballplayer created in central casting. Power, average, speed, clutch hitting and defensive prowess, at an elite level. He’s the best player in the game.

On his way to Cooperstown, the budding legend has amassed an enviable portfolio of seasons in 2014, 2016 and 2019, All-Star Selections every year since 2012, a two-time AlL Star Game MVP and multiple-time recipient of the Silver Slugger.

All of the Angels records may be his before he’s through. Trout already has the most lifetime home runs. He could be three or four seasons away from surpassing Garrett Anderson’s all-time RBI mark. As June dawned, he was about to go past Brian Downing’s third-place mark of 846. 

Before the year ends,  Trout will likely surpass Garrett Anderson as the all-time leader in runs scored.

With all that power, he’s also second to Chone Figgins for all-time stolen bases. That’s mind-boggling.

A once-in-a-lifetime player.

The Angels have wisely paid him his worth.