All Time Angels Team

Posted By on Jan 29, 2014 | 0 comments


The Angels have had many great seasons in their 53 year history. Have you ever wondered what a team would look like if we put all those great seasons together? You found the right place. I am going to look back at the best seasons in Angels history and construct a 25 man roster that would be a complete powerhouse.

I researched the best seasons in history by looking at bWAR(Baseball Reference’s formula for WAR) and fWAR(Fangraph’s version of WAR). To decided which player had a better season, I added both of those WAR totals together and rewarded the player with the higher total. Other stats I included are the traditional triple slash line(AVG/OBP/SLG) and wRC+, which measures how good offensively a player was in that given year. A league average hitter has a 100 wRC+, while a player with a 110 wRC+ is 10% better than the league average hitter.

 

 

Now, here is the starting lineup constructed of the best positional seasons in Angels history.

 

Lineup

 

1)   Mike Trout 2012, LF

AVG OBP SLG wRC+ fWAR bWAR
Trout

0.326

0.399

0.564

166 10.0

10.9

 

Mike Trout’s rookie season was a complete monster, rating as the best season in Angels history at the young age of 20. Trout ranked first with a 166 wRC+, tied with Miguel Cabrera, who won the triple crown and MVP that year. He was the best base runner according to BsR, which measures how many runs a player created on the bases. Trout was worth 12 BsR, which was more than 3 runs better than the next best player. Oh and he ranked as the 3rd best defensive outfielder behind Jason Heyward and Michael Bourn. Not a bad rookie season huh?

2)   Brian Downing 1979, C

AVG OBP SLG wRC+ fWAR bWAR
Downing 0.326 0.418 0.462 144 5.0 5.6

 

Downing had one of the most interesting careers with the Angels as he played multiple positions, including catcher and the outfield. In 1979 as a catcher, Downing absolutely mashed the baseball and was an integral part of the first division winning team in Anaheim. Downing’s .418 OBP was incredible for a catcher and that high OBP and all around offensive skillset fits perfectly behind Trout in the lineup.

 

3)   Tim Salmon 1995, RF

AVG OBP SLG wRC+ fWAR bWAR
Salmon ’95

0.33

0.429

0.594

163 5.8

6.6

 

Salmon’s 1995 season was his best year in his illustrious Angels career. Salmon slugged .594 while reaching base at a prolific .429 rate. Salmon walked 14.3% of the time while posting one of the lowest strikeout rates of his career. He posted a 163 wRC+, good for 5th best in baseball and tied with Barry Bonds. Not too shabby of a season. He’ll fit perfectly as a #3 hitter in this lineup.

 

4)   Vladimir Guerrero 2004, DH

AVG OBP SLG wRC+ fWAR bWAR
Guerrero

0.337

0.391

0.598

154 6.1

5.6

 

“Vlad” was incredible in his first year as an Angel, taking home AL MVP honors and helping lead the Angels to the first division title in 18 years. His .337 batting average ranks 2nd best in Angels history. He nearly slugged .600 while hitting in a pitcher’s park and posted a .391 on base percentage. This is a monster of a hitter to be hitting behind all your high OBP hitters.

 

5)   Trout Glaus 2000, 3B

AVG OBP SLG wRC+ fWAR bWAR
Glaus

0.284

0.404

0.604

150 8.2

7.8

 

Glaus’s 2000 season is the only season in Angels history where a player slugged .600 and got on base at a .400 rate. He also holds the record for most home runs in a season in Angels history with 47 big flies.  Glaus, along with Mo Vaughn, Garret Anderson and Tim Salmon, became the first group of 4 in AL history to hit 30 home runs each. This was a monster season for Glaus and hitting him 5th seems almost unfair.

 

6)   Darin Erstad 2000, CF

AVG OBP SLG wRC+ fWAR bWAR
Erstad

0.355

0.409

0.541

140 8.7

8.3

How about this for a 6 hole hitter? Erstad wasn’t part of the group that hit 30 home runs in 2000 but he was an integral part of the top of the order for that team. Erstad’s .355 batting average ranks as the best in Angels history and is probably a record that won’t be broken unless Mike Trout goes bonkers one year. Erstad was also the best defensive outfielder in the AL that year. This was a humongous season for “Ersty”.

 

7)   Bobby Grich 1979, 2B

AVG OBP SLG wRC+ fWAR bWAR
Grich

0.294

0.365

0.537

141

5.6

5.9

 

Grich, as well as Downing, was a big reason why the Angels won the division title in 1979. A second baseman who can slug .537 and play gold glove defense is an incredibly valuable player. He also hit .294 and got on base at a .365 clip. Grich finished as a top 15 position player in baseball that season and was the best 2nd baseman.

 

8)   Rod Carew 1982, 1B

AVG OBP SLG wRC+ fWAR bWAR
Carew

0.319

0.396

0.403

123 4.3

4.7

 

How about having a hall of famer and a career .328 hitter having 8th in your lineup? Carew may have been in his decline stage in his career with the Angels but he was still a super productive player. Carew’s .319 average in 1982 was 4th best in all of baseball and his .396 OBP was 7th. This will make do for a 8 hole hitter.

 

9)   Jim Fregosi 1964, SS

AVG OBP SLG wRC+ fWAR bWAR
Fregosi

0.277

0.369

0.463

136 7.0

7.9

 

Deciding who would play shortstop was quite easy. Fregosi’s 1964 season was the best by a SS in Angels history. He also owns the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 7th, 10th and 16th best seasons by a shortstop in Angels history. This is quietly one of the most underrated players in baseball history. Fregosi’s 42.6 WAR is still the best in Angels history and it makes you wonder why more Angels fans don’t bring up his name in discussions for the best Angels player ever.

 

A lineup needs a supporting cast on the bench too so I will try to optimize the bench with 5 players with varying skillsets

 

Bench

 

Bench Spot #1) Chilli Davis 1995, DH/1B

AVG OBP SLG wRC+ fWAR bWAR
Davis

0.318

0.429

0.514

142

3.2

3.5

 

Davis is exactly who the Angels would want in a pinch hitting situation and whenever the 1B/DH spot is open. Davis is one of the handful of Angels to ever hit .300, get on base above .400 and slug over .500. This is a perfect guy on your bench.

 

Bench Spot #2) Chone Figgins 2007, utility player

AVG OBP SLG wRC+ fWAR bWAR
Figgins

0.33

0.393

0.432

122

4

3.4

Figgins is super valuable off the bench because he can play the outfield, 3rd base and 2nd base. I didn’t choose his monster 2009 season because he played mostly 3rd base that year. Figgins was an elite base runner in 2007 posting a 10.1 BsR, 3rd best in baseball. So we have a utility player who hits 22% better than league average, plays good defense at multiple positions and runs the bases well.

Bench Spot #3) Lance Parrish 1990, C

AVG OBP SLG wRC+ fWAR bWAR
Parrish

0.268

0.338

0.451

122

4.6

4.5

 

For our backup catcher role, I wanted a good defensive catcher but I also wanted a guy who could hit league average or better. Bob Boone immediately came to mind when I looked for this spot but he was dreadful offensively so he wasn’t a fit. Parrish was perfect because he rated very well defensively throughout his career and his 1990 season was one of his best defensive seasons. He was also much better than league average offensively, posting a 122 wRC+ so this became an easy choice.

 

Bench Spot #4) Devon White, 1987, CF

AVG OBP SLG wRC+ fWAR bWAR
White

0.263

0.306

0.443

97

4.6

5.6

Our 4th bench spot gives us our first below league average hitter but it’s not by much. Devon White was only 3% worse than league average so it’s not like we have a stiff here. The reason I chose him was for his elite center field defense. White was worth 2.9 dWAR(defensive WAR) so he was an above average player on his defense alone. We can rotate him around if needed so this is a crazy valuable guy to be able to use for defensive replacements late in games.

 

Bench Spot #5) Rick Burleson 1981, SS

AVG OBP SLG wRC+ fWAR bWAR
Burleson

0.292

0.357

0.372

116

4

4.5

 

For our last bench spot, we needed someone who could be a backup SS since Figgins doesn’t have too much experience there. I looked for a well rounded player who could do a little of everything. Burleson was 16% better than league average in 1981, was a fantastic defender and held his own on the base paths.

 

Now we can move onto the pitching. I will use ERA, FIP, K/9 and BB/9. If you’re unfamiliar with FIP, it looks at just your strikeouts, walks and home runs and grades you based on that. FIP essentially looks at what a pitcher controls and values you based off that. I will rank the pitchers based off their best seasons according to fWAR and bWAR.

 

Starting Rotation

 

1)   Nolan Ryan 1973

ERA FIP K/9 BB/9 fWAR bWAR
Ryan

2.87

2.49

10.57

4.47

9

7.7

 

No surprise here. 1973 was a record breaking season for Ryan as he broke Sandy Koufax’s record for most strikeouts in a season by punching out 383 batters. Ryan struck out 125 more batters than the next closest pitcher. His FIP of 2.49 was 2nd in baseball and his .201 batting average against was second among qualified pitchers. Ryan’s 383 strikeouts in a season will most likely never be broken so this season puts Ryan as the ace of the staff.

 

2)   Dean Chance 1964

ERA FIP K/9 BB/9 fWAR bWAR
Chance

1.65

2.39

6.69

2.78

6.9

9.3

 

Chance was absolutely phenomenal this year. It’s hard to have him 2nd on this list but fWAR and BWAR both valued Ryan higher, which is the criteria for making the list. Between 1940 and 2013, Chance’s 1.64 ERA in 1964 remains the 7th best single season and best in Angels history. That’s a crazy number to think about. Chance only allowed 7 HR in 278.1 innings, good for a 0.23 HR/9 rate that remains the best in single season Angels history. This is a pretty fantastic #2 pitcher in a rotation.

 

3)   Frank Tanana 1975

ERA FIP K/9 BB/9 fWAR bWAR
Tanana

2.62

2.49

9.41

2.55

6.8

7.4

 

Frank Tanana was an incredible pitcher when he came up. Had he not been injured so early in his career, there’s a good chance we would be saying Hall of Famer Frank Tanana. Tanana’s 1975 season was his best in his career as he posted a phenomenal 9.41 K/9 while posting a 2.55 BB/9 rate. Tanana’s 3 year peak from 1975-1977 remains one of the best in Angels history.

 

4)   Mike Witt 1986

ERA FIP K/9 BB/9 fWAR bWAR
Witt

2.84

3.14

6.96

2.44

6.5

6.2

Witt was the lead dog on the 1986 AL West winning team. Witt ranked 4th in innings pitched, 7th in ERA and 4th in WAR in baseball in 1986. There’s a good chance that the Angels don’t make the playoffs in 1986 without Witt and maybe that would have been a good thing for Angels fans. We never would have dealt with the “Donnie Moore game” for the next 16 years. Lets move on to the next pitcher so we all don’t need to feel any more miserable about that infamous time.

 

5)   Bill Singer 1973

ERA FIP K/9 BB/9 fWAR bWAR
Singer

3.22

2.98

6.87

3.71

6.6

5.9

I’ll be honest, I wasn’t expecting Bill Singer to make this rotation. I assumed Jered Weaver or John Lackey would have rounded out the rotation but wrong I was. Singer’s first season in Anaheim after a good run with the Dodgers was a huge success. Singer logged 315.2 innings, good for 3rd all time in Angels history and had a very good 3.22 ERA and 2.98 FIP. This is a pretty darn good 5th starter.

 

6 roster spots left. We’ll use these 6 spots on the bullpen, which is going to be otherworldly.

 

Bullpen

 

1)   Francisco Rodriguez 2004, Closer

ERA FIP K/9 BB/9 fWAR bWAR
Rodriguez

1.82

1.64

13.18

3.54

3.8

3.4

 

K-Rod actually didn’t close this year as Troy Percival was still around and producing so Rodriguez was playing second fiddle as the set up man. Still, He registered the best season from a reliever in Angels history and saved a few games this year and went on to save a lot of games so I feel comfortable slotting him in at closer. His 3.4 fWAR season ranks as the 13th best in baseball history by a reliever so we’re looking at an elite level closer for this team.

 

2)   Bryan Harvey 1991, Set Up

ERA FIP K/9 BB/9 fWAR bWAR
Harvey

1.6

1.97

11.56

1.94

3

3.4

 

Harvey registered a phenomenal 1991 season, posting a miniscule 1.94 BB/9 while striking out plenty of batters. If you look at bWAR, it has his season as equal to Rodriguez’s season. His 1.60 ERA is the 2nd best by a reliever in Angels history. Harvey’s fantastic K/BB ratio and super low ERA make him a great set up man.

 

3)   Brendan Donnelly 2003, Set Up

ERA FIP K/9 BB/9 fWAR bWAR
Donnelly

1.58

2.38

9.61

2.92

2.6

3.4

 

Donnelly followed up his solid rookie season with an even better sophomore season. Going into the All Star Break in 2003, Donnelly was sporting a sub 0.5 ERA and was rewarded with his only all star appearance in his big league career. His 1.58 ERA in 2003 is the best by an reliever in Angels history and he’s rewarded with a set up role on this team.

 

4)   Troy Percival 1995, Middle Relief

ERA FIP K/9 BB/9 fWAR bWAR
Percival

1.95

2.71

11.43

3.16

2.4

3.2

 

It’s probably a surprise to most people that Percival isn’t one of the top 3 options for this bullpen but he just missed the cut for a set up role. He registered several seasons that were very good so he was more of a consistent great pitcher rather than someone like Donnelly who registered 1 elite season. His 12.8 WAR with the Angels is the best by a reliever in Angels history.

 

5)   Scott Shields 2005, Long Relief 

ERA FIP K/9 BB/9 fWAR bWAR
Shields

2.75

2.98

9.62

3.63

2.4

3.1

 

 

Shields was known as a rubber arm due to his ability to pitch multiple innings in a game or pitch day after day after day. Shields is a perfect option for long relief because he can pitch 2-3 innings on any given night and be effective. He consistently posted sub 3 ERA’s and good K/BB rations and he delivered big time in 2005 with 91.2 innings of 2.75 ERA baseball.

 

6)   Darren Oliver 2008, LOOGY

ERA FIP K/9 BB/9 fWAR bWAR
Oliver

2.88

3.53

6

2

1

1.8

 

The last player to make the roster is our lefty specialist, otherwise known as a LOOGY, Darren Oliver. Oliver allowed a .223/.277/.376 line against lefties in 2008 and posted a 25/6 strikeout to walk ratio. I selected Oliver over other candidates because he was also effective against righties. Thus allows Oliver to stay in the game longer rather than just pitch to lefties and helps conserve the bullpen.

 

Conclusion

 

This team is phenomenal as a whole unit. I’m sure if you practiced this exercise with every team, you would find similarly talented teams but this was a very fun article to write. The starting lineup had averages that ranged from .277 to .355, on base percentages from .369 to .425, and slugging percentages from .403 to .605. The worst player in the lineup posted a 123 wRC+ and 4.7 WAR, while the best player posted a 166 wRC+ and 10.9 WAR.

 

The bench featured a .944 OPS slugger, a good all around catcher, a super utility player who could steal bases, a defensive wizard in the outfield and a solid all around shortstop who could play well up the middle.

 

The starting staff featured 4 righties and 1 lefty. The ace was a flame throwing, strikeout generating beast who posted a sub 3 ERA and FIP. The #2 guy posted a sub 2 ERA while posting an otherworldly HR/9. The #3 was a lefty who helped keep balance in the rotation and delivered sub 2.5 ERAs and FIPs. The #4 starter posted good all around numbers, while posting a 6.2 fWAR. The #5 rounded out the rotation by posting a sub 3 FIP and low 3’s ERA.

 

The bullpen featured huge power arms with humongous strikeout abilities. The top 4 bullpen guys had K/9 over 9.5 while walking very few batters. The long reliever had a sub 3 ERA and FIP while throwing nearly 100 innings. The LOOGY was fantastic against lefties but was above average against righties so he wasn’t a complete specialist on the mound.

 

The Angels have had a great history of very good seasons and you see what kind of damage an all time Angels team could do. I hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed writing and researching this.

 

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