From exceptional pitchers to extraordinary hitters, there’s no shortage of MLB talent that has graced the Angels over the years. But a few stand out: those who’ve really left their mark on the team and our hearts. This article analyses the top five greats of Los Angeles Angels.
Often hailed as the best player in contemporary baseball, Mike Trout’s journey with the Los Angeles Angels has been nothing short of spectacular. With three MVP titles to his name and a record of finishing in the top five voting since his first full season in 2012, there’s no denying Trout’s influence and dominance in the game. He’s not only approaching several career offensive milestones in the Angels’ record book but also redefining them.
As of the end of 2020, he had boasted an impressive career total of a .304 average, 302 home runs (a team record), 798 RBI, and 944 runs, not to mention 201 steals. But Trout isn’t just about the offense. His .994 fielding percentage in 1,094 games in center field places him eighth all-time since 1901. With a contract set to run for another decade, we can only imagine the records Trout will shatter and the Los Angeles Angels odds he’ll continue to improve.
The Angels’ history wouldn’t be complete without a mention of Nolan Ryan, a true superstar who painted masterpieces from the mound during his eight-year tenure in California. Known for his powerful pitches, Ryan hurled four no-hitters and six one-hitters, creating a legacy that’s hard to rival. He led the AL in strikeouts in seven of those eight seasons, peaking with a staggering 383 in 1973 – the highest for any pitcher since 1886! His knack for strikeouts is legendary, holding the top five single-season strikeout records in Angels’ history.
Ryan’s record with the Angels is awe-inspiring, to say the least. He boasted 138 wins and 121 losses, with an ERA of 3.07 – the second-best in team history. Not to be overlooked are his 156 complete games, a franchise record that still stands, including a spell of seven straight in 1973. He clinched 22 wins in 1974, tying for the franchise record, and won 19 games or more four times. Ryan’s illustrious career was honored with a Hall of Fame induction in 1999 and his No. 30 jersey retirement in 1992. A true Angels legend, Nolan Ryan’s legacy continues to inspire.
The Angels’ legacy was shaped early on by the reliable and ultra-talented Jim Fregosi. A slick shortstop who donned the Angels’ uniform for 11 seasons, Fregosi was the team’s first real star. Despite being a distant 17th pick in the 1960 Expansion Draft, he surprised everyone with a .268 batting average in 1,429 games, coupled with 115 home runs, 546 RBI, and 691 runs. His record of 70 triples is still unbeaten, underscoring his incredible athleticism.
Fregosi’s dependability on the field was remarkable, playing in at least 147 games each season from 1963 to ’70. He made history twice by hitting for the cycle in 1964 and 1968, becoming the only player in the franchise to achieve this feat twice! Fregosi’s brilliant career with the Angels culminated in a trade to the Mets in 1971, a deal which brought Nolan Ryan to the Angels – a noteworthy contribution to the team’s future success.
The Angels honored Fregosi’s commendable service in 1998 by retiring his No. 11 jersey. The stellar shortstop later returned as the team’s manager in 1979, leading the Angels to their first postseason berth. Fregosi’s enduring influence on the Angels is a testament to his exceptional talent and dedication to the team.
Garret Anderson, a stalwart of the Los Angeles Angels from 1994 to 2008, etched his name in the annals of the franchise’s history with his stellar career. He carved out a reputation for dependability and consistency, with his statistics attesting to his relentless performance.
Throughout his career with the Angels, Anderson solidified his place among baseball’s top players, ranking second with 489 doubles, third with 2,363 hits, and eighth with 1,291 RBI. His impeccable run in the 2002 season was instrumental in leading the Angels to their only World Series championship, as he led the AL with 56 doubles, a .306 average, 29 home runs, and 123 RBI, securing a fourth-place finish in the MVP voting. The following season, Anderson topped the league in doubles yet again, making history as the tenth player in team history to hit three home runs in a game.
Chuck Finley, an integral part of the Angels from 1986 to 1999, was a powerful force on the mound. As the fourth overall pick in the 1985 draft, Finley ascended the ranks rapidly, making his Major League debut in May 1986. He remained a consistent presence throughout the late ’80s and ’90s, amassing an impressive 165 wins and 2,151 strikeouts across 14 seasons with the Angels.
During his peak years from 1989 to ‘91, Finley showcased his extraordinary prowess as a pitcher, boasting a 52–27 win-loss record, a remarkable 2.93 ERA, and 504 strikeouts. The 1990 season stands out as his best, with an 18–9 record, a 2.40 ERA, and 177 strikeouts. His contributions didn’t wane even in the postseason, as seen in his performance during the 1986 ALCS, where he allowed just one hit over two innings in three games.
Finley’s enduring legacy is affirmed by his status as the franchise leader in career innings (2,675), wins (165), and losses (140). In fact, only the legendary Nolan Ryan surpasses him in strikeouts. His reliable performances and persistent drive make Chuck Finley a true luminary in the Angels’ roster through the years.