December 30, 2009

True Grich's All-Decade Team Part 2

Time for the True Grich Angels All-Decade Pitching Squad. Like the previous picks for the position players, these picks are based on the best single season of a pitcher in a given year, as opposed to a comprehensive look at who did what over the last ten years.

Occupying the #5 spot in the All-Decade rotation is a personal favorite of mine and my wife Cheryl’s in Joe Saunders. Saunders was a solid performer in 2008 when he led the team in both wins (17) and had the lowest ERA among the starters (3.41). Saunders was one of three Angel pitchers to be selected to the all-star game that year. Saunders threw his first complete game that year and managed 103 strikes outs. Saunders; who relies on his defense (by pitching to contact), really came into his own as a starter in 2008.

The #4 starter for the decade goes to the pitcher who shares my birthday (April 11) and that would be Kelvim Escobar and his 2007 season. Escobar had his finest season in the majors that year, going 18-7 with a 3.40 ERA. His strikeout to innings pitched ratio was a solid 7.4 (he struck out a total of 160 batters). Escobar also had three complete games, including a shut out. Early in the season, he was among those being discussed as a possible CY Young candidate, but never factored into the voting by season’s end.

Ervin Santana’s 2008 performance gave the Angels reason to sign him to a 4 year, $30 million (with a club option for a fifth year). That year he went 16-7 with a 3.49 ERA and 1.119 WHIP. He also had an impressive 214 strikeouts in 219 innings for an 8.8 strikeouts to innings ratio. He joined Saunders on the all-star team and finished 6th in the CY Young balloting. He threw two complete games, including a shut out. His performance earns him the #3 spot on the True Grich Angels All-Decade squad.

Interesting tidbit about “El Meneo” (Shaker) is that he seems to pitch best in even numbered years. Hopefully, 2010 will be a good one for Santana.

The #2 spot is occupied by an old friend of the Angels in Jarrod Washburn, who’s 2002 season ranks as the second best performance of the decade (in my opinion). Washburn was 18-6 with a 3.15 ERA, 1.175 WHIP, and 139 K’s. Washburn didn’t make the all-star team, but finished 4th in the CY Young voting. He was clearly the ace of the staff during the Angels championship season, even though he went 0-2 in the World Series.

The top dog on the All-Decade squad goes to a player who is now "dead to me." Yes, “you know who” had an amazing 2007 season, going 19-9 with a league leading 3.01 ERA, 179 K’s and two complete game shut outs (both against Seattle). The pitcher, forever to be now known as “Judas” made his first and only all-star performance and finished 3rd in the Cy Young voting.

If I still sound bitter, it’s because I am. Never-the-less - John Lackey (cough) gets the top spot on the True Grich Angels All-Decade Pitching staff.

Jered Weaver did not make the cut, but had a short, but fine 2006 season and a solid 2009 campaign. He just didn’t have the numbers to crack the top five (in my opinion), but could/should dominate in the next decade.

The closer of the decade is between two pitchers who will go down as two of the all-time best for the Angels; Troy Percival and Francisco Rodriguez.

Rodriguez saved an astounding 62 games in 2008. He finished 3rd in the Cy Young Voting, made his third all-star team (at the time), and even finished 6th in the MVP voting. All that being said, I believe his best season was 2006 when he lead the league with 47 saves. In 2006 his ERA was lower (1.73 to 2.24), his strike outs to innings ratio was higher (12.1 to 10.1) and even his WHIP was better (1.096 to 1.309). He also only blew 4 saves in 2006 as opposed to 7 in 2008.

“K-Rod” was known to give Angel fans a roller-coaster ride during his last couple seasons in Anaheim, but he was easily the most successful closer in Angels' history. But the question is - was his 2006 season the best of the decade?

Before we get to that, let’s look at Troy Percival.

Even though “Percy” made the all-star team four times, his best season (in my opinion) came in a year when he didn’t make the mid-summer classic; 2002. That year Percy had a career best (as a closer) 1.92 ERA. He saved 40 of 44 games and averaged nearly 11 K’s per nine innings. He also racked up seven saves in the post season, including the most important one (game 7 of the World Series) in Angels' history.

So, who was better? Who gets the nod on the All-Decade squad?

They both do. Only Percy wins the closer award and K-Rod wins as the best set-up man of the decade.

With apologies to Scot Shields, K-Rod’s 2004 season cemented him as one of the game’s elite relievers. That year he had 12 saves to go along with 27 holds. He averaged an incredible 13.2 K’s per nine innings. Shields has never hit double digits in that category.

K-Rod had a 1.82 ERA which better than any season by Shields and only gave up two homeruns (oh for the good ol’ days) the entire season. He is the True Grich Angels All-Decade Set-up Man.

If you want to make a case for Rodriguez as the Angels’ best closer of the decade, you won’t get much of an argument from me; however, I am picking Troy Percival as the closer and Francisco Rodriguez as the top set up man (remember this is based on a single season performance).

As we close this decade and the all-decade selections, you may have noticed (like my friend and 514 fanatic, Jeffrey did) that I neglected to pick a top DH. For the most part, that role has been a revolving one Mike Scioscia has used to give some of his players rest. I chose not to include it for that reason. Brad Fullmer was purely a DH, but he was average, at best.

My pick of Darin Erstad as the best player of the decade (based on a single season performance) doesn’t really provide us with a true picture of who the best Angel player of the decade was. I chose to do that on purpose, believing my criteria made for a more interesting list.

Had I gone the route of who was best based on statistics alone, the award would have come down to two players. One, who made my all-decade team (Vladimir Guerrero) and one who ironically did not (Garret Anderson).

It probably won’t surprise you to learn that both players drove in more than 100 runs four times during the decade, but it probably will surprise you to know Anderson actually drove in more. He drove in 479 in those four seasons (2000-2003) to Guerrero’s 475 in his four (2004-2007). Anderson was a machine for the first four years of this decade and vastly under-rated. Guerrero was everything that was advertised and highly celebrated.

Who was better? An argument could be made either way. Anderson’s impact was over a much longer period of time (9 seasons) and included a World Series title. Vlad’s six years were very impressive and included an MVP title. If you pushed me to pick one, I’d give the edge to Anderson, simply because of his longevity.

The irony of all this shouldn’t be lost. I guess in some ways it’s a reflection of GA’s career and the perception that surrounded him. Anderson was very much under-appreciated as a member of the Angels, but holds almost every statistical record for the franchise. Some even thought Anderson to be “lazy,” while my friend and fellow 514 Fanatic, Bo simply called him “Mr. Smooth.”

Also ironic (probably only to me) is that I was never a huge Erstad fan and yet he ended up as my Angel of the Decade (again based on specific criteria). In any case, I hope you enjoyed this exercise as much as I enjoyed bringing it to you.


  1. So, I agree with your starting five. Although I too find it challenging to leave Weaver and his 11-2 record off this list. But I also agree that he should find his was onto this decades list. All that being said, I WANT MORE!!!! I think you should finish your bull-pen, and I will start you off with a few suggestions (not in rank order):

    2008 - Jose Arredondo
    10 - 2; 1.62 ERA, 52 games, 61 innings, 55K

    2005 - Brendan Donnelly
    9 - 3; 3.72 ERA, 66 games, 65.1 innings, 53K

    2005 - Scott Shields
    10 - 11; 2.75 ERA, 78 games, 91.2 innings, 98K

    2004 - Scott Shields
    8 - 2; 3.33 ERA, 60 games, 105.1 innings, 109K

    2002 - Ben Webber
    7 - 2. 2.54 ERA, 63 games, 78 innings, 43K

    2001 - Alan Levine
    8 - 10, 2.38 ERA, 64 games, 75.2 innings, 40K

    2000 - Shigetoshi Hassagawa
    10 - 6, 3.57 ERA, 66 games, 95.2 ERA, 59K

    What sayath you?????


  2. James, Thank you for giving it to My my man GA, "Mr. Smooth" he was an awesome Angel. But my pick for a DH clutch hit of the decade it has to go to "Big Daddy" for the hit against Pimplebutt in the ALDS in the final game at Fenway, that made me very, very, happy.

  3. Thank you my fellow fanatics Bo and Jeffrey for your comments. Jeffrey - your bull pen list looks pretty good. I don't think I'll be ranking the rest of the bull pen or doing a 25 man roster though. Bo - I figured you would appreciate the GA mention. Thanks again to both of you.