So you think the Angels are the other team in Los Angeles? The little brother to the Dodgers?
That may be true when you count up pennants and World Series titles. That may even be true when you line up the legends who wore the Dodger Blue and those few who have been in the Angels halo.
But while they haven’t been to the playoffs since 2014, the Los Angeles Angels have had some success this century.
In fact, the Angels won six division titles from 2004 to 2014. As of 2022, they have the best player in baseball in their outfield — and the most stupefying talent who can pitch and also hit 450-foot home runs.
For many years, the Angels have had an identity problem. In their first four years, starting in 1961, they were known as the LA Angels. Then they were called the California Angels for more than three decades, in a move the franchise made to appeal to fans across the Golden State.
But from 1997 to 2004, the team was rebranded the Anaheim Angels, finally acknowledging that they don’t even play in Los Angeles. There were those years when the team insisted on being called “the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.” Which is sort of like your pretentious friend demanding to be called Robert instead of Bob.
Now, we’re back to LA Angels, since 2016.
That seems to mean this is a franchise that wants to directly take on the mighty Dodgers.
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Angels All-Time Roster
Brian Downing, Catcher, 1978-1990
For much of Downing’s career with the Angels, the bespectacled, muscular player was a left fielder. But in his first three seasons wearing the halo, he was behind the dish. In 1979, he had the best season ever by an Angels catcher: .326 with 12 homers and 75 RBI, and he had a .418 on-base percentage. After Downing, who was an almost perfect match physically for Superman-actor Christopher Reeve, moved to the outfield, he maintained his superhero status with Angels fans, who appreciated his power and solid fundamental play.
Honorable Mention: Buck Rodgers, Mike Napoli
Rod Carew, First Base, 1979-1985
The greatest pure hitter the Angels have ever had, Carew was one of the best batters to ever wave a bat. He won seven batting titles, all of them with Minnesota, but after he was traded to California the future Hall of Famer batted .314 in seven seasons. In 1979 ,he hit .412 in the playoffs for the Halos.
Honorable Mention: Wally Joyner, Albert Pujols
Bobby Grich, Second Base, 1977-1986
Grich is criminally underrated. His fielding numbers are some of the best in history for a second baseman. He was also a patient hitter and a middle infielder with home run power when baseball didn’t see that very often. In 1981, he shared the AL lead in home runs. In 1979, he smacked 30 homers for the Angels. He was a three-time All-Star for California (as they were known then), and received MVP votes twice while with the franchise.
Honorable Mention: Howie Kendrick
Jim Fregosi, Shortstop, 1961-1971
The first superstar position player the Angels ever had, Fregosi was a superb shortstop both ways. He was a six-time All-Star, won a Gold Glove, and received MVP votes every season from 1963 to 1970. Later, he managed the team and led the Angels to their first division title.
Honorable Mention: Erick Aybar, Andrelton Simmons
Troy Glaus, Third Base, 1998-2004
Twice, Glaus hit as many as 40 home runs for the Angels, in 2000 (with a league-high 47) and 2001. He drove in at least 100 runs three times for the Angels.
Honorable Mention: Doug DeCines, Chone Figgins
Garret Anderson, Left Field, 1994-2008
Anderson is the all-time franchise leader in hits (with more than 2,300), and also in doubles, total bases, and RBI. With his smooth left-handed swing, Anderson was fourth in MVP voting in the magical 2002 World Series season.
Honorable Mention: Darin Erstad
Mike Trout, Center Field, 2011-present
Eventually, Trout will own all or most of the records for the Angels. He’s already the leader in Wins Above Replacement, home runs, and runs. He’s as close to Willie Mays as baseball has seen since the 1960s. Trout has won two MVPs, and he’s finished in the top five eight times through 2021.
Honorable Mention: Mickey Rivers, Fred Lynn, Gary Pettis, Jim Edmonds
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Vladimir Guerrero, Right Field, 2004-2009
Vlad Sr. never met a pitch he didn’t like, and in his six seasons as an Angel that aggressive approach served him well: He averaged .319 with 29 homers and 103 RBI per year.
Honorable Mention: Reggie Jackson, Tim Salmon
Shohei Ohtani, Designated Hitter, 2018-present
In five seasons with the Angels, Ohtani has done things no player has ever done. Not Babe Ruth, not anyone. He’s the first player to win 10 games AND hit 20 home runs. He’s the only player to hit 40 homers, steal 20 bases, and strike out as many as 150 batters on the mound. He won the AL MVP Award in 2021, has also won the Rookie of the Year, and might eventually win a Cy Young Award while still slugging as a DH in between starts.
Honorable Mention: Don Baylor
Nolan Ryan, Starting Pitcher, 1972-1979
The Angels traded Fregosi to the Mets to get Ryan after the 1971 season. At the time, Ryan was more of a freakish thrower than a good pitcher. But in sunny California, Ryan blossomed. He threw four no-hitters, set the single-season strikeout record (383, which still stands), and struck out as many as 19 batters in a game. He went on to pitch three more no-hitters after he left the Angels, and his career mark for strikeouts (5,714) is nearly 900 more than the next pitcher.
Chuck Finley, Starting Pitcher, 1986-1999
The tall lefty from Louisiana is the Angels’ all-time leader in wins (165), innings, and starts. He and Ryan are the only pitchers in franchise history to strike out as many as 2,000 batters.
Jered Weaver, Starting Pitcher, 2006-2016
If you wanted a pitcher to win a game and bring the attitude, you could turn to Weaver. He won as many as 16 games for the Halos four times, and twice, in 2012 (with 20) and 2014 (18), he led the league. Weaver finished in the top five in Cy Young voting three straight years.
Frank Tanana, Starting Pitcher, 1973-1980
During his prime in the 1970s, longhaired Tanana threw the baseball nearly as hard as his teammate Nolan Ryan. From 1974 to 1977, the southpaw averaged 229 Ks. In a 1975 game, he struck out 17, setting an AL record for strikeouts in a game by a left-hander.
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Mark Langston, Starting Pitcher, 1990-1997
No other Angels pitcher earned as much hardware as Langston, a tall, talented athlete from San Diego. In his eight seasons in Anaheim, Langston was an All-Star three times and won five Gold Gloves. He averaged 15 wins for the six full seasons from 1990 to 1995.
Honorable Mention: Dean Chance, Mike Witt, John Lackey
Troy Percival, Closer, 1995-2004
When the Angels won their first pennant, Percival was on the mound to get the last out. Days later, when the team won its first and only World Series, the snarling, pumped-up Percival was on the hill again to record the final out. Percival had a nearly impossible knee-high fastball that he used to record 316 saves for the Angels, including as many as 30 eight times. He’s the LA Angels all-time leader in saves.
Honorable Mention: Donnie Moore, Bryan Harvey, Francisco Rodriguez
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Mike Scioscia, Manager, 2000-2018
For nearly two decades, the even-tempered Scioscia guided the Angels, usually keeping them in the race late into the season. The Angels won six division titles under Scioscia, who was extremely competitive despite his stolid appearance. In 2002, his team won the World Series, which is still the only time the franchise has played in or won the Fall Classic.
“I was raised on Dodger blue,” Scioscia once said. “But I sure learned to love Angel red.”
Honorable Mention: Bill Rigney, Gene Mauch