As the 2021 Angels prepare for their sixtieth Opening Day, we’re beginning the season celebrating the top sixty players in franchise history.
This list has been compiled based on an unbiased HaloLife custom formula. Factoring Fangraphs & Baseball Reference WAR ratings, awards voting, All-Star, and post-season appearances, among other variables. These rankings are strictly based on their performance during every player’s Angels’ career. It does not reflect overall career performance and years outside their tenure in Anaheim or Los Angeles.
This week we countdown the 21st through 25th greatest Angels all-time.
25. Wally Joyner
Some might struggle to fill the shoes of a future Hall of Fame first basemen like Rod Carew. Not 24-year-old left-handed-hitting Joyner. Instead, he had one of the most impressive first halves in club history. Just down the street from Disneyland, he converted the Big A into Wally World the summer of 1986. Joyner would enter the All-Star break hitting .313 with 20 home runs and 72 runs batted in. Becoming the first American League rookie voted to the All-Star team as a result of his hot start. He would not disappoint Midsummer Classic fans in Houston, capturing that season’s Home Run Derby crown.
Joyner would finish his rookie campaign with 22 home runs and 100 runs batted in. Finishing second in AL Rookie of the Year voting to Jose Canseco. Even though Joyner would have 74 MVP vote points to the Canseco’s 3 points in the voting. The BYU product would hit a career-best 34 home runs and 117 runs batted in the following year. He was a consistent provider of gap power and run production over his 7 seasons with the Halos.
In 2001, the Georgia native would finish his 16-year playing career back in Anaheim for a swan song season. Joyner would complete his Angels career hitting .286, 175 doubles, 117 home runs, and 532 runs batted. Joyner has spent much of his post-playing career as a hitting coach for several MLB ballclubs.
Making his MLB debut on September 18, 2002, K-Rod quickly became the Angels’ most valuable secret weapon. Two weeks later he would be mowing down New York Yankees out of the Angels bullpen in the ALDS. The 20-year-old Venezuelan moved on to strike out 7 of the 17 Minnesota Twins batters he would face in the ALCS. In the Fall Classic, he would strike out 13 San Francisco Giants in 8 2/3 innings. Proving to be an essential contributor to the franchise’s first championship.
He would serve as the set-up man for Angels’ closer Troy Percival the next two seasons. As the two led the most dangerous bullpen in baseball before assuming the role as closer himself in 2005. A devastating fastball combined with one of the nastiest sliders in the game would baffle opposing hitters. Leading him to strikeout an unfathomable 123 batters out of the bullpen in 2004. Rodriguez would save 40 or more games all four years he served as the Halos closer. Reaching a pinnacle in 2008, when K-Rod set a major league record converting 62 saves for the Angels.
After seven seasons in Anaheim, K-Rod would leave as a free agent to play in the Big Apple. Joining the New York Mets but leaving a legacy of greatness during his tenure with the Angels. Rodriguez would be named to three of his six career All-Star appearances pitching in Anaheim. He currently ranks fourth all-time with 437 career saves behind Hall of Famers Mariano Rivera, Trevor Hoffman, and Lee Smith. As an Angel, he’d compile 23-17 win-loss, 208 saves, a 2.35 ERA with 587 strikeouts in 451 2/3 innings pitched.
23. Doug DeCinces
A veteran of nine MLB seasons with the Baltimore Orioles, DeCinces was acquired in exchange for Dan Ford in January 1982. The 30-year-old would have a career year hitting .301 with 42 doubles, 30 home runs, and 97 runs batted in. That was enough for the third baseman to finish third in AL MVP voting that season. He would hit a pair of three-home run games within a five-day span in August of 1982. He’d earn a Silver Slugger his first season with the Halos. The following summer, he was named to his first career All-Star team. Receiving accolades for his stellar defense and middle-of-the-order power for the Halos.
The right-handed hitter infielder would average 20 home runs and 80 runs batted in during his six seasons in Anaheim. The Burbank native provided clutch hitting in the 1982 ALCS hitting .316 for the five-game series. Four years later, hitting .281, a home run, and 3 runs batted in during the 1986 championship series. He finished 11th in AL MVP voting, slugging 26 homers and 96 runs batted in during the 1986 regular season.
The 36-year-old DeCinces would be released by the Angels towards the end of the 1987 season. The result of the emergence of the young Jack Howell who was ready to assume the everyday responsibilities at third. The veteran completed his Angels career having hit .265, 130 home runs, and 481 runs batted in with the organization.
22. Torii Hunter
The 32-year-old, seven-time Gold Glove center fielder was signed as a free agent prior to the 2008 season. A year after the less than impressive performance of Gary Matthews Jr. Was brought into play center field. He earned his eighth career Gold Glove in his debut season with the Halos. Hitting .278 with 37 doubles, 21 home runs, and 19 stolen bases in 2008.
The always smiling outfielder would be named an All-Star the next two seasons in Anaheim. Earning another Gold Glove and Silver Slugger in the process. He would patrol center field with authority for three of his five seasons with the team. The emergence of youngsters Peter Bourjos and Mike Trout forced him to move to right field. Just as dangerous in the corner outfield position, he became an invaluable mentor to the still-developing center fielder Trout.
The Angels would let a 37-year-old Hunter depart as a free agent following the 2012 season. Not before he amassed five great seasons of .286/.352/.462 hitting line for the Halos. The outfielder averaging almost 30 doubles and over 20 home runs per season in Anaheim. Hunter appeared on the National Baseball Hall of Fame ballot for the first time last year. One of the greatest outfielders of his generation, he will remain an intriguing candidate for Cooperstown for years to come.
21. Jim Edmonds
Along with Hunter, Edmonds was known first for his highlight plays in center field. Plays that led to multiple Gold Glove awards during his seven years wearing a Halo. The Diamond Bar High School product rose quietly through the farm system in the early Nineties. Playing in the shadow of more highly regarded outfield prospects, Tim Salmon and Garret Anderson. He would establish himself as an everyday center fielder midway through the 1994 season. Edmonds would finish eighth in Rookie of the Year voting that year.
He would break out in 1995, hitting .290 with 33 doubles, 30 home runs, and 107 runs batted in. Giving spark to an Angels’ lineup that would end the season one game shy of a playoff berth. He would be named an All-Star and finish 14th in AL MVP voting following the season. The left-handed-hitting slugger would hit 25 or more home runs the next three seasons. He’d suffer an injury that limited his 1999 season to 55 games. With free agency looming, and a crowded outfield, he would ultimately be traded to St. Louis following the season.
During his seven Angels seasons, Edmonds would hit .290/.359/.498 with 161 doubles and 121 home runs. The depth of outfield talent in Darin Erstad, Salmon, and Anderson ultimately made Edmonds expendable in Anaheim. He would go on to amass 393 home runs, 8 Gold Gloves, and 4 All-Star appearances during his 17-year career.
We will next countdown the 16th through 20th greatest Angels all-time featuring five Angels that arrived as youngsters. Each making their mark and paving their place in Angels franchise history.