Angels Top 60 at 60 – Angels Franchise Top Sixty Players: 35-31by B.J. Martin March 10, 2021 1 comment
As he 2021 Angels prepare to embark on their 60th MLB season, we are celebrating this milestone by recognizing the top 60 players in franchise history. This list has been compiled based on an unbiased HaloLife formula, compiling Fangraphs and Baseball-Reference WAR ratings, awards voting, All-Star, and postseason appearances. These rankings are strictly based on the performance during every player’s Angels career. It does not reflect overall career performance and years outside their tenure with the Angels or the personal opinion of the author.
This week we countdown the 31st through 35th greatest Angels of all-time.
35. Kirk McCaskill
Growing up in a hockey family, it seemed natural the Ontario native would be destined to play the sport. Following in the footsteps of his father Ted (a professional hockey player), he accepted a baseball and hockey scholarship from the University of Vermont. The Winnipeg Jets would select him in the fourth round of the 1981 NHL draft. After one year at Vermont, the Angels drafted him in the fourth round of the 1982 MLB draft. Luckily for the Halos, he agreed to play baseball.
After only two-and-a-half years playing on the farm, the right hander joined the Angels starting rotation in 1985. He started 29 games and went 12-12 with a 4.70 earned run average his rookie season. McCaskill would break out the following year, finishing 17-10 across 33 starts. He struck out 202 hitters with a 3.36 ERA for the 1986 American League West division champions. McCaskill would start and lose both games he started in the ALCS against Boston that October. Nevertheless, he had established himself as one of the top starters in the league.
The Canadian played his first seven MLB seasons with the Angels before being dealt to the Chicago White Sox. He would finish his career with the organization 78-74, with a 3.86 ERA, 30 complete games, and 11 shutouts. He ranks among the top-10 in franchise history in wins, games started, complete games, and shutouts.
34. Kole Calhoun
The @Angels needed a hero.
Enter Kole Calhoun. pic.twitter.com/PMrUNWzYeQ
— MLB (@MLB) May 24, 2018
The eighth round selection out of Arizona State seized the opportunity to take over the right field position in Anaheim. Doing so demonstrating his gritty, all-out playing style and spectacular defense. He spent his early years battling for playing time with JB Shuck and Josh Hamilton. The Arizona native finally took over the job as the Halos’ everyday right fielder in 2014. He did not relinquish that role until leaving as a free agent following the 2019 season.
Calhoun would be a perennial finalist for the Gold Glove at the position, winning the trophy in 2015. He would rank among the top-five AL right fielders in outfield assists six consecutive seasons, 2014 through 2019. The redheaded outfielder would hit 17 or more home runs in each of his six seasons in the starting lineup, including a career-high 33 in his final season of 2019 in Anaheim.
Calhoun left as a free agent to his hometown Arizona Diamondbacks in 2020. He finished his Angels career logging 966 games, hitting .249, 167 doubles, 140 home runs, and 367 runs batted in. Calhoun will be best remembered for his diving, game-saving catches in the Angels outfield.
33. Andy Messersmith
The Angels first-round selection in the second-ever MLB draft of 1966, Messersmith arrived in Anaheim with high hopes in 1968 and did not disappoint the Angels faithful. After debuting primarily out of the bullpen his rookie season of 1968, Messersmith would finish in the rotation in 1969. He finished the season 16-11 with a 2.52 ERA and 211 strikeouts (third in the AL).
Two years later in 1971, he would enjoy his first All-Star season. He won 20 games with a 2.99 ERA and finished fifth in the American League Cy Young Award voting behind Vida Blue. Following the 1972 season, he would headline a blockbuster trade with their Freeway Series rival Dodgers. He was dealt along with Ken McMullen in exchange for future Hall of Famer Frank Robinson, Bill Singer, Bobby Valentine, and others.
The slick-fielding pitcher would finish his Angels tenure 59-47 with a 2.78 ERA, 42 complete games, 11 shutouts, and 768 strikeouts. His Halos ERA still ranks first in franchise history. While his 1.140 walks/hits per nine innings rate is second only behind Troy Percival.
32. Ervin Santana
“Smell Baseball.” That is the slogan the colorful Dominican-born right-hander Santana uses to celebrate his passion for the game. The last of a trio of Latin pitchers from the turn of the Millennium which included Francisco Rodriguez and Ramon Ortiz, he would make his MLB debut for Anaheim after 10 starts at Triple-A in 2005. He started 23 games in his rookie season with a 12-8 record and a 4.65 ERA.
Santana won 16 games in 2006 as well as in his 2008 All-Star season. He finished the 2010 campaign with a career-best 17 victories. His 214 strikeouts in 2008 trailed only A.J. Burnett in the AL that season. July 27, 2011 would become the pinnacle moment of his Angels career. That day, he struck out 10 Cleveland Indians on the way to a 3-1 victory and recording the 9th no-hitter in franchise history.
After eight seasons, the Angels traded Santana to the Kansas City Royals, ending his tenure in Anaheim with a 96-80 record, a 4.33 ERA, and 1,167 strikeouts. He ranks top-10 in franchise history in victories, innings pitched, and games started.
— Angels On This Day (@AngelsOTD) July 27, 2020
31. Jim Abbott
Born without a right hand, Abbott never viewed this as a disability. He would never let that hold him back from competing on the field. He went from starring at his high school in Flint, MI to the ace starter at the University of Michigan and would compete on the 1988 gold medal U.S. Olympic baseball team. Ultimately, he was selected by the California Angels eighth overall in the 1988 MLB draft.
Abbott signed in the summer of 1988 and reported to Spring Training with the Angels in 1989. Without having played his first professional game, he cracked the Halos’ starting rotation out of camp. He made his major league debut straight from college on April 8 against Seattle. He allowed three earned runs in a 7-0 loss. In his third start against Oakland on April 24, Abbott tossed six innings of two-run baseball, earning his first career MLB victory.
He finished his rookie season 12-12 with a 3.92 ERA, finishing fifth in AL Rookie of the Year voting. He would earn 10 victories his sophomore campaign before finishing the 1991 season 18-11, with a 2.89 ERA and 158 strikeouts. This would earn him a third-place finish in AL Cy Young voting. He finished 7-15 in 1992 and be dealt to the New York Yankees in exchange for J.T. Snow the following winter.
Abbott threw a no-hitter for the Yankees before playing one season for the White Sox. The Angels would reacquire the left-hander via trade from Chicago in 1995 at the trade deadline. Abbott would help the Angels down the stretch, compiling a 5-4 record and a 4.15 ERA in 13 starts. He pitched another season in Anaheim before ending his tenure with the club in 1997. He finished his Angels career with 54 wins, a 4.07 ERA, and 22 complete games across 161 starts.
We will next countdown the 26th through 30th greatest Angels all-time, including careers of a trio of World Series champions, a Hall of Famer, and Gold Glove infielder.