As the 2021 Angels celebrate their 60th anniversary, we’re beginning the year celebrating the top sixty players in franchise history. This list has been compiled based on an unbiased HaloLife formula taking into account Fangraphs & Baseball-Reference WAR ratings, awards voting, All-Star and postseason appearances, among other factors. These rankings are strictly based on their performance during every player’s Angels’ career and do not reflect overall career performance and years outside their tenure in Anaheim or Los Angeles or the personal opinion of the author.
The list as revealed so far:
This week we countdown the 51st through 55th greatest Angels of all-time.
Reichardt’s legacy was one of high expectations and hopes that many felt were never fulfilled. He was a fullback at Wisconsin who appeared in two Rose Bowl games before the Los Angeles Angels signed him in 1964 to a ground-breaking $205,000 player contract. This signing would lead to sweeping changes to the signing process for amateur players and establish their first-ever MLB draft the following year; forever changing the selection process for American-born ballplayers.
After playing only 57 games at the minor league level, the 21-year-old Reichardt made his Angels debut September 4th against the New York Yankees. He wouldn’t establish himself on the Angels roster until 1966 when he became the Angels starting left fielder. Reichardt became the first player to hit a home run in the newly opened Anaheim Stadium. The rookie hit .288, 16 home runs, and had eight stolen bases before a kidney ailment and extraction would end his season prematurely.
Over the portions of seven seasons with the Los Angeles / California Angels, Reichardt slashed .261/.328/.406 with 68 home runs, 261 runs batted in, receiving four votes for the 1966 American League MVP award. Injuries would continue to plague the once top prospect before his career ultimately ended after 11 big league seasons. The first Angels phenom in franchise history never lived up to the last big ‘bonus baby’ signing but his all-around performance at the plate, on the bases, and in the field rank him among the 60 best in Halo’s history.
A 29-year-old Brunet bounced around across four organizations in the majors before the Angels acquired him from Houston prior to August 1964. Brunet would impress manager Bill Rigney down the stretch finishing the year 2-2 with a 3.61 ERA across ten games that featured seven starts. Brunet would find himself a staple in the California Angels rotation averaging 33 starts from 1965 through 1968 finishing every campaign with a 3.31 or less ERA. He was never an All-Star but reached double-digits in victories three straight years. His 1965 season of a 2.65 ERA and 4.1 WAR were fourth-best among American League pitchers.
Brunet’s Angels’ career would end in 1969 upon being purchased by the expansion Seattle Pilots. He finished his six seasons with the organization with 54 victories, a 3.13 ERA, and 14 shutouts in 194 games. Brunet would finish his MLB career in 1971 after playing in portions of 15 MLB seasons but that was only the beginning of his legacy. He would go on to pitch in the Mexican League until 1984 at the ripe age of 49. As a result of Brunet’s 30-plus years of playing, he is said to hold the minor league record for most career strikeouts and is a member of the Mexican Baseball Hall of Fame.
This imposing 6-foot, 3-inch, 200-pound hurler arrived on the scene in 1987 and soon established himself as the Angels’ first high-profile closer. Prior to Harvey’s arrival, only Donnie Moore (31 in 1985) and Dave LaRoche (25 in 1978) had recorded 25 or more saves in a single season through the first three decades of the organization’s history. The North Carolinian stopper would record more than that milestone four of his six seasons as closer including a league-leading 46 saves in his All-Star 1991 campaign.
Aided by a mid-90’s fastball and deceptive forkball, Harvey’s Angels career would conclude after only 25 games in 1992 with an elbow injury. Unsure of Harvey’s ability to recover from the injury, he was left unprotected and drafted by the Florida Marlins in the expansion draft prior to the next season. Harvey was healthy enough for the Marlins to record 45 saves in his All-Star inaugural Florida season. He would finish his Halos tenure with a then franchise-record 126 saves in 250 games with 2.49 ERA and 365 strikeouts across 307 innings. Today, his 46 saves in 1991 are the fourth-best single-season mark while only Troy Percival and Francisco Rodriguez have saved more games as an Angel than Harvey.
Wright was a sixth-round selection by the Halos in the first-ever June MLB draft in 1965 and would quickly find his way to Angels staff making his debut in 1966. The crafty left-hander would spend his first four seasons with the Angels acting as a swingman before establishing himself in the starting rotation in 1970. He would rack up a career-best 22 victories, 2.83 ERA, and 128 ERA+ during that season earning his only All-Star appearance. Finishing top five in the American League in those previous categories, Wright would finish 6th in Cy Young voting and also receive MVP consideration. The highlight of that season coming July 3rd against the Oakland Athletics when Wright tossed the second no-hitter in franchise history and the first-ever at Anaheim Stadium.
The Tennessee southpaw would accumulate 16 and 18 wins in each of the subsequent seasons. He completed his eight-season tenure the winningest pitcher in the early franchise history with an 87-85 record at the end of the 1973 season. Wright would spend two more seasons pitching in Milwaukee and Texas before retiring and has been an Angels ambassador in the community since his playing career concluded.
The outfielder affectionately known as “The Groove” arrived in California prior to the 1977 season after spending his first six years in Baltimore. Baylor would come into his own playing at the Big A, hitting a career-high 25 home runs in his first left coast season before hitting another 34 in 1978 and 36 in 1979. The right-handed slugger would be the first in the organization’s history to be voted American League Most Valuable Player. In 1979, he led the Angels to their first-ever division title. He hit .296 with a league-leading 120 runs, 139 runs batted in, and 162 games in addition to his 36 longballs.
Baylor would find himself a regular designated hitter for the bulk of his career after arriving in Anaheim. He would leave the Halos as a free agent following the Angels’ 1982 division-winning season after hitting .263 with 25 home runs and 93 runs batted in. Baylor will forever be remembered for his ability to “take one for the team,” being Hit by Pitch 66 times as an Angel and 267 times throughout 19 MLB seasons. Fifth most by anyone wearing a Halos uniform and fourth-most in baseball history. One of the most feared hitters in club history would go on to appear in three World Series following his time in Anaheim including a championship with the 1987 Twins.
Next time we’ll be counting down 46th through 50th all-time Angels featuring a group of players that all contributed in Angels’ postseasons past in addition to some memorable All-Star moments.
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