Angels Top 60 at 60 – Angels Franchise Top Sixty Players: 36-40by B.J. Martin March 4, 2021 0 comments
As the 2021 Los Angeles Angels embark on their 60th season, we’re 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. It does not reflect a player’s overall career performance or the personal opinion of the author.
This week we countdown the 36th through 40th greatest Angels all-time.
40. Bobby Knoop
Knoop made up one-half of arguably the greatest double-play combo in Angels franchise history. Jim Fregosi and he would provide stellar defense behind Halos pitchers during most of the organization’s first decade of existence. Knoop would earn three Gold Glove awards during his six seasons for Bill Rigney’s expansion club. He also had his lone All-Star appearance in 1966’s midsummer classic.
Like many middle infielders of his era, Knoop’s value came with his glove. Despite his reputation as an exceptional defender, he still led the American League with 11 triples in 1966. That same season he would also hit a career-best 17 home runs and 72 runs batted in. He’d lead the American League with 7 sacrifice flies to cap off that All-Star campaign. Knoop ranked top two among AL second baseman in Range Factor all six seasons with California. He’s later be traded to the White Sox for a younger second baseman in Sandy Alomar following the 1969 season.
His playing career would end for the Kansas City Royals in 1972. However, that would only be the beginning of his contributions to the game. Knoop would have a long-term coaching career for the Angels between 1979-1996. He’d later return as an advisor for the front office 2013-2018. He served as first or third base coach for the first three Angels playoff teams of 1979, 1982, and 1986. The first for a team manager by his old roommate and lifelong friend Jim Fregosi.
39. Gary Pettis
In the wake of the stolen base revolution sweeping baseball in the 1980s, came an exceptionally speedy centerfielder. The Angels were firmly secure in their outfield with veterans Reggie Jackson, Fred Lynn, and Brian Downing in the early-mid Eighties. Still, Pettis was wreaking havoc on minor league pitchers and catchers. Between 1980 and 1983, the switch-hitting outfielder would swipe, 43, 55, 53, and 52 bases between Single-A and Triple-A.
In 1984, Pettis would force All-Star center fielder Fred Lynn to move to right field and waste no time making highlight-reel plays in center. He completed his rookie year with a .332 on-base percentage and 48 stolen bases. Garnering the attention of opposing hitters and coaches alike, Pettis would earn Gold Glove awards the next two seasons. On the base paths, he finished runner-up for the American League lead with 56 and 50 stolen bases. Trailing only future Hall of Fame steals king Rickey Henderson.
The 1986 division-winning season would be his finest as an Angel. Hitting .258 average, 23 doubles, 5 home runs, 58 runs batted in and compiling a 5.1 fWAR. He would hit .348 with a home run and 4 runs batted in during ALCS against the Boston Red Sox that October. The Angels would trade him to Detroit following the 1987 season for pitcher Dan Petry. Finishing his time with Halos hitting .252 with a franchise-best 186 stolen bases at the time. His stolen base total now ranks third-best behind only Chone Figgins and Mike Trout.
38. Kelvim Escobar
Rarely do free agent signings provide a team better results than how they performed prior to their signing. The Angels were fortunate enough to experience those career-best results following the November 2003 signing of pitcher Kelvim Escobar. The 27-year-old right-hander had pitched seven seasons for Toronto splitting time between starter and reliever. Compiling a 4.58 earned run average across 301 appearances with 101 being starts with the Blue Jays.
Escobar would insert himself into the Halos starting rotation with authority. Winning 11 games, posting a 3.93 ERA while striking out 191 hitters in 208 innings in 2004. Unfortunately, he would suffer an injury that limited him to only 59 innings in 2005. The Venezuelan would bounce back to make 30 starts in each of the next two seasons. The 2007 season would be his best season, compiling an 18-7 win-loss and 3.40 ERA for the playoff-bound Angels.
His playoff performance was outstanding across four October postseason series. He appeared in eight games while striking out 24 hitters in 19 2/3 innings and posting a 3.66 earned run average. During Spring Training 2008, Escobar would suffer a shoulder injury that required season-ending surgery. He would only make one more major league start for the Angels in 2009.
37. Devon White
Like Gary Pettis before him, Devon White could run like a gazelle in the outfield but also provide an offensive punch. In many ways, the younger outfielder provided a more well-rounded ballplayer than his fellow switch-hitting teammate. White would emerge as a full-time player to Pettis left side in right field for his 1987 rookie season. “Devo” would hit .264, 33 doubles, 24 home runs, 87 runs batted in, and 32 stolen bases as a freshman. He’d finish fifth in the Rookie of the Year balloting despite his 5.6 fWAR being best among rookies.
Prior to his sophomore campaign, the team dealt away Pettis, giving White center field to roam. Over the next three seasons, he’d earn two Gold Glove awards and be named an All-Star in 1989. He would rank top two among centerfield zone ratings prior to being dealt to the Toronto Blue Jays in December 1990. White would go on to start in center field for 11 more MLB seasons, winning three World Series championships between Toronto and Florida.
White’s career with the Angels would end with him producing a .247/.295/.389 hitting triple slash. He hit 91 doubles, 24 triples, 59 home runs, and 123 stolen bases during parts of six seasons in Anaheim. White, along with his predecessor Pettis, still ranks among the greatest defensive center fielders all-time among many baseball historians.
36. Bob Boone
The son of former MLB third basemen Ray Boone joined the 1982 Angels after 10 years with the Phillies. Coming to Anaheim with two Gold Gloves, three All-Star games, and a World Series title on his resume. In turn, he provided the Angels with the greatest defensive catcher in franchise history across the next during his seven seasons. His presence would be felt immediately handling the playoff bound pitching staff and earning his third career Gold Glove. He’d finish 16th in MVP voting for the AL Western Division champion Halos.
Boone’s outstanding 1982 season would help earn him All-Star honors again for the Angels in 1983. His defensive ratings at the catcher position were the best in the game. No one would argue that fact, even as his playing career advanced into his forties. He would earn a total of four Gold Glove awards during his tenure with the Angels.
Generally, an average hitting catcher at the plate, he had a knack for coming through in the clutch. Boone hit .250 with a home run and four runs batted in during the 1982 Championship Series against Milwaukee. Four years later, at 38-years-old, he would rake .455/.500/.591 while catching all seven games of the 1986 ALCS. Boone would go on to manage after his playing career ended. Two of his sons, Aaron and Bret, would go on to have All-Star MLB careers of their own.
We will next countdown the 31st through 35th greatest Angels all-time featuring a quartet of starting pitchers and a Gold Glove outfielder that left it all on the field every night.