Ranking the Top 5 Los Angeles Angels Players in Franchise History
The Los Angeles Angels franchise has enjoyed plenty of success since being established back in 1961. While the Angels have a relatively short franchise history in comparison to some MLB teams, there has been no shortage of both team and player achievements. The Angels have seen multiple MVP, Cy Young and Rookie of Year Award winners, as well as a World Series Championship in their franchise’s history.
With players like Nolan Ryan, Tim Salmon and Mike Trout documented throughout franchise record books, determining the top-five players in Angels franchise history is no easy task. However, a careful analysis of statistics and player value may help give perspective to this never-ending debate.
This list will count down the five best players in Angels franchise history.
The criteria for this list is fairly straightforward:
The most important piece of this analysis is the player's recorded statistics during his time with the franchise and where he ranks in the Angels' statistical record book.
Years wearing an Angels uniform will also play a critical role in this assessment.
Next on the list is the player's accomplishments during his tenure with the Angels. This may include player awards or team achievements.
The impact the player had on the Angels' fanbase will be a factor.
Finally, wins above replace (WAR) will be accounted for.
In no particular order, here are the Angels who were snubbed from this list:
The Angels selected Weaver 12th overall in the 2004 amateur draft. Two years later, in 2006, he would make his debut and never look back. Weaver has been the ace of the Angels pitching staff throughout recent history. His 131 career wins rank third all-time in franchise history, and his ERA of 3.27 ranks fifth all-time among players who have made 150-or-more starts in an Angels uniform. He still should have plenty of years left in an Angels uniform and may very well go down as the best pitcher in Angels history by the time his career is over.
After playing 12 seasons with the Minnesota Twins, Carew finished his career as a member of the Angels. During this time, he was named to six All-Star teams, recorded 968 hits and maintained a batting average of .314. However, it would be unfair to rank Carew in the top-five Angels of all-time due to him being remembered primarily as a Twin.
After eight seasons with the now-extinct Montreal Expos, Guerrero spent the majority of the latter part of his career with the Angels. As a member of the Angels, Vlad won his only MVP Award, was elected to four All-Star teams and recorded 173 home runs, which ranks fifth all-time in franchise history. Though Guerrero, if elected, likely will join the Hall of Fame as a member of the Angels, he spent too many years playing for other teams to be included in the top five.
The Angels all-time leader in triples and position player with the highest WAR in franchise history, Fregosi spent 11 strong years with the franchise. He ranks fifth in franchise history in both hits and runs scored. He was elected to six All-Star teams and won a Gold Glove during the 1960s. However, his career .268 batting average with the Angels and nine years spent with other franchises pushes him out of top-five consideration.
5. Mike Trout
Some may argue that three-plus years of service in the MLB is not enough time to justify a spot on this list, but Trout is special.
In just over three years with the Angels, Trout has won Rookie of the Year, been elected to three All-Star games, won two Silver Slugger Awards and led the MLB in WAR. His career WAR of 28 already ranks 10th in franchise history.
Trout has also led the league in runs scored in three consecutive seasons, led the league in walks in 2013 and led the league in stolen bases in 2012. He also finished runner-up to Miguel Cabrera for the MVP Award in both 2012 and 2013.
He almost certainly will win his first Gold Glove, third Silver Slugger and be the unanimous choice for American League MVP this season. He is largely responsible for the Angels making it back to the postseason this year and, barring injury, may go down as the best player in franchise history, if not one of the best all-around players in MLB history.
4. Chuck Finley
Finley may not be the best pitcher in Angels franchise history, but he is certainly the name most commonly seen in their record books.
Finley spent 14 seasons with the Angels, compiling a WAR of 52, which currently is the benchmark total in franchise history. His 165 wins also rank first in franchise history, while his 2,152 strikeouts rank second. He also was elected to four All-Star teams as a member of the Angels.
He ranks ahead of Trout due to the amount of years he had success with the Angels. However, he only ranks fourth on this list due to a relatively high 3.72 ERA as a member of the Angels and subpar postseason pitching statistics.
3. Tim Salmon
Salmon would be nearly impossible to exclude from this list given the provided criteria.
Not only was he a fan favorite in Los Angeles, but Salmon was one of the most prolific hitters in team history. He ranks first in franchise history in home runs with 299, second in RBI with 1,016, second in hits with 1,674 and second in runs scored with 986.
Salmon was Rookie of the Year in 1993 and also won a Silver Slugger in 1995. His most important accomplishment, however, was helping the Angels win their first and only World Series in 2002. During the seven-game series, Salmon hit .346 with two home runs and five RBI.
He spent his entire 14-year as a member of the Angels, becoming one of the most productive hitters in franchise history. His career accomplishments and role in the Angels World Series Championship bump him ahead of Finley.
2. Nolan Ryan
Ryan ranks first in franchise history with 2,416 strikeouts, first in complete games with 156, first in shutouts with 40, second in wins with 138 and his ERA of 3.07 ranks second among pitchers who started at least 150 games for the Angels.
Ryan was elected to five All-Star teams as a member of the Angels. He also led the MLB in strikeouts in every season except one while pitching in California. While he only spent eight of his 27 MLB seasons with the franchise, Ryan was a generational talent with the statistics and legacy to prove it.
In comparison to Finley, Ryan was simply more dominant during his time with the Angels. A case could be made for Salmon here, but giving the nod to the player in the Hall of Fame seems like the right decision.
1. Garret Anderson
The Angels sure do have a history of successful outfielders.
Anderson spent 15 seasons with the Angels, compiling many totals no other player in franchise history can match. He is the franchise leader with 2,368 hits, 1,024 runs scored, 489 doubles, 8,480 plate appearances and 1,292 RBI. He also ranks second only to Salmon with 272 home runs.
Anderson was a three-time All-Star and a two-time Silver Slugger Award winner. He also led the MLB in doubles in both 2002 and 2003. Also, Anderson, like Salmon, was a member of the Angels 2002 World Series Championship team.
He played more seasons in an Angels uniform than any other player in franchise history, was partially responsible for the franchise's lone championship and is a statistical juggernaut in the record books, giving Anderson the slight edge over Ryan and Salmon.
Anderson's WAR of 28 is only tied for 10th in franchise history, but he ranks at the top, or close to it, in the hearts of Angels fans, which makes him far more memorable.