February 18, 2011

The ten greatest Angels of all time

The ten greatest Angels were revealed today as part of the Orange County Register’s (OCR) 50 greatest Angels survey of various panelists including writers from the OCR, administrators from Angel fan sites like AngelsWin and Halos Heaven, Jeff Biggs (radio personality), Tim Mead (Vice President of Communications) and yours truly.

The top ten include: Troy Percival and Rod Carew (tied for 9th), Brian Downing (8), Bobby Grich (7), Chuck Finley (6), Garret Anderson (5), Vladimir Guerrero (4), Jim Fregosi (3), Tim Salmon (2), and the greatest Angel of all – Nolan Ryan.

I can’t say that I’m surprised that Ryan won out and I can certainly see how anyone would have that opinion, but in the case of this poll, Tim Salmon was robbed. Despite receiving more first place votes than any other Angel (5), Tim Salmon came up short due in large part to the voting of the OCR’s Mark Whicker and Bill Plunkett. Whicker’s votes have been all over the place and today’s top ten reveals a lot about his mind set. He voted Salmon 12th. Not only that, he left Brian Downing completely off his list. Hello? Whicker left five of the top ten off his own top ten.

I could go on and on about Whicker, but I’ll save that for another day.

Overall, I really can’t find fault with the top ten and even the top five. My own voting went like this for the top ten: Tim Salmon (1), Nolan Ryan (2), Garret Anderson (3), Chuck Finley (4), Bobby Grich (5), Jim Fregosi (6), Brian Downing (7), Troy Percival (8), Vladimir Guerrero (9) and Frank Tanana (10).

Why Tim Salmon? Ask most Angel fans who they consider “Mr. Angel” and they’ll say Tim Salmon without hesitation. During his time in Anaheim he emerged as the face of the franchise. He was drafted and developed by the Angels and spent his entire career in one uniform. He is among the all-time leaders in most offensive categories and his relationship with the fans was second to none.

In my opinion any of my top three could have been number one. Yes, even Garret Anderson because it is he who owns most of the Angels all-time offensive records. Had he finished his career as an Angel, I would have had to give him even more consideration for that top spot. The one drawback with Anderson is the relationship he had with the fans which was never what it could have been.

For whatever reason and whether you believe it to be true or just perceived, Anderson was never fully embraced. I can tell you from my own personal experience that he never seemed approachable or friendly whenever he was around fans. At spring training he would walk past fans hoping for a signature or photograph without as much as a wave. On photo days at the stadium, he would stand as far away as possible. He just never took the time to interact with fans.

Salmon was the polar opposite. He almost always made time for the fans and the media. He took less money to play for the organization that gave him his shot. He was highly involved in the community and was just an excellent all-around role model.

I feel really proud of my top ten. Two of us – myself and Jenelyn Russo, who is a contributor to the OCR’s Angel blog, had nine of the top ten on our ballots.

Some other interesting things about the list show that I voted higher for Troy Percival than anyone else (8) and my bias as a Grich fan was also evident. Russo and myself voted him 5th, higher than the rest of the panelists.

I also placed Finley higher than all but Halos Heaven’s Mat Gleason by ranking him 4th. Finley has won more games than any pitcher in Angels' history (165), is second in strike outs (2,151), has pitched more innings than any other Angel (2,675), and ranks 4th in complete games (57).

All in all, it was a fun exercise and one that I was honored to be a part of. I’d like to thank Keith Sharon of the OCR for inviting me to participate.

February 17, 2011

The 50 Greatest Angels (11-20)

Today’s Orange County Register’s (OCR) list of the 50 greatest Angels take us to a place that is reserved for a very special group; those rannked 11-20. If you make this list, you are truly special in the eyes of the panelists who put the list together.

The names are: Mike Witt (20), John Lackey (19), Francisco Rodriguez (18), Wally Joyner (17), Troy Glaus (16), Frank Tanana (15), Don Baylor (14), Gene Autry (13), Darin Erstad (12) and Mike Scioscia (11).

That’s a list that’s hard to argue with. Each made significant contributions to the Angels and/or hold a place in the Angels’ record books.

Two of the individuals listed (Autry and K-Rod) did not make my top 20 although I did rank each of them in the top 50.

Our first Angel who received some first place votes finally appears in Gene Autry. Four panelists including the Angels’ Tim Mead, Vice President of Communications believe Autry is the greatest of all.

It’s really hard to argue with that sentiment. I can appreciate and understand why anyone would believe that. I really wouldn’t fault anyone for voting for Autry; after all, if it weren’t for him, the Angels may have never come into existence. What I can’t understand is why Mat Gleason of Halos Heaven didn’t vote for him at all.

It’s also clear that Mead has the highest regard for Mike Scioscia who he voted as the 4th greatest Angel of all time. Angels talk show host Jeff Biggs ranked Scioscia 3rd and the OCR’s Bill Plunkett ranked him 4th. Four other panelists ranked him 6th. I ranked him 15th.

My feeling about Scioscia is that he is easily the most important Angel within the organization today. His finger prints are all over this organization and its success or failure is mostly his responsibility. That being said, he probably doesn’t get enough credit for how good the Angels have been over the last ten years and at the same time probably receives too much of the blame when it doesn’t meet expectations.

I can’t imagine anyone else managing my favorite team, but it wasn’t enough to put him for me to put him in the top 10. Interestingly, Gleason who left Autry off his list also excluded Scioscia.

It may be interesting to some folks out there that K-Rod ranked so low on my list at 35. It’s hard to argue with his accomplishments; however, for me it was more than that. I always said that if Frankie Rodriguez wasn’t an Angel (when he was on the team), I’d hate him because of the way he carries himself. I guess you could say that feeling carried over into my voting and I was unable to separate how I felt about him from what he did as an Angel.

I also have to admit that even though I have publicly chastised John Lackey for going to the worst possible destination in Boston last year, I had to include him in my top 20.

It was great to see some old familiar names on the list in Frank Tanana, Mike Witt and Don Baylor. And who could forget Wally World (Wally Joyner). I gave Joyner high marks for his impact on the Angel fan base (ranking him 12th).

Tomorrow we get down to the nitty-gritty; the top 10.

February 16, 2011

The 50 Greatest Angels (21-30)

We are now at the point in the Orange County Register’s (OCR) 50 greatest Angels where there shouldn’t be any real surprises. Then again, when you ask any group of people to come up with a list, there are always bound to be a few.

Today’s list reveals the following: Adam Kennedy (30), David Eckstein (29), Mark Langston (28), Chone Figgins (27), Jim Edmonds (26), Arte Moreno (25), Doug Decinces (24), Reggie Jackson (23), Chili Davis (22), and Dean Chance (21).

How appropriate is it for Kennedy and Eckstein to be next to one another? I mean, they were the 6-4 combo during the Angels greatest season ever and when you think of one, you should think of the other. They ended up higher on the list than I thought, but they’re deserving never-the-less.

Before we talk about the other players on the list, I have to ask – what was the OCR’s Mark Whicker thinking? Six of the ten players on today’s list didn’t make his at all. He did not vote for Chili Davis, Doug Decinces, Arte Moreno (neither did I), Jim Edmonds, Mark Langston, or Adam Kennedy. Other than Moreno – how in the world could he be so wrong? This is the kind of stuff I’d expect from Jeff Miller. Just saying.

So… Arte Moreno sure got a lot of love today. Four panelists had him in their top ten. Wow. Seeing how the rest of the panel thought of him definitely gave me reason to pause and wonder if I should have voted for him. I definitely considered it, but at the end of the day, I chose to only vote for one owner and he has yet to appear on this list.

As I look over the list, I have to say I have one major beef. I can’t believe Chili Davis is ranked this low. I voted for him as the 11th greatest Angel of all time. Davis ranks 6th among all Angels in homeruns (156), 5th in RBI (618), 9th in hits (973), and 8th in total bases (1,620). Quite frankly, Davis was a stud.

Another interesting player to look at on this list is Jim Edmonds. Now, I’ve heard some baseball people make a case that he’s actually a viable Hall of Fame candidate. OCR’s Sam Miller thought enough of him to rank him 12th on his list. He’s right about where I thought he should be at 26 (I had him at 25).

Kudos to Keith Sharon, Chuck Richter (AngelsWin), Mat Gleason (Halos Heaven), and Sam Miller for agreeing with me that Doug Decinces belongs in the top 20. The rest of the panelists should be put on some sort of double secret probation for not agreeing with us.

So far seven of the OCR’s top 50 weren’t on my list at all. I’m feeling pretty good about my top 20. I’ll be surprised if they’re not all on the list (two of them have already made the list – Davis and Decinces).

And… If I’m doing my math correctly, I still have 18 of my top 20 Angels who have yet to make the list and that means there are two more on my list that could make the top 20. I’m guessing one of them will be Frankie (I ranked him 35th) and the other… well; let’s just say that I ranked him “appropriately” at #26.

Two guys in my top 50 who looks like they’ll be left out include Ervin Santana (ranked him 48th) and Devon White (ranked him 43rd).

It doesn't look like Ervin Santana (ranked him 48th) or Devon White (ranked him 43rd) will make the list.

Until tomorrow…

February 15, 2011

The 50 Greatest Angels (31-40)

Today’s list in the Orange County Register (OCR) of the greatest Angels (31-40) is very revealing. As I said yesterday, my list isn’t perfect and today’s list reveals some holes in my selections.

From the Register: Fred Lynn (40), Jered Weaver (39), Clyde Wright (38), Bryan Harvey (37), Scot Shields (36), Bob Boone (35), Bobby Knoop (34), Jim Abbott (33), Bengie Molina (32), and Torii Hunter (31).

You might be asking yourself how in the world did James leave Torii Hunter off his list? That’s a good question. How did I? When I was developing my list a couple months back, I had a reason for leaving him off the list; however, I can’t remember why now for the life of me. This is easily the biggest regret I have with my 50 greatest.

Hunter is easily my favorite current baseball player on the planet. It’s not even close. I goofed. What else can I say? At least I wasn’t alone. The OC Register’s Jeff Miller also left Hunter off my list. Then again, I’m not a fan of Miller’s at all, and being of the same mind set in this case is more than a little disturbing to me. Just saying.

Two others who didn’t make my list include Bryan Harvey and Fred Lynn. Both are probably deserving.

Enough about me… let me focus on the “blunders” of others!

Scot Shields was recognized as the set up man of the decade (2000-2009) and yet the OC Register’s Earl Bloom, Bill Plunkett and Mark Whicker left him off their list. So did AngelsWin’s Chuck Richter and Ellen Bell. Shame on all of you!

Then again, I should talk right? Hey, well it’s not about me. Let’s continue….

Keith Sharon of the OC Register left Jim Abbott off his list. Wow. Come on Keith, Jim Abbott? I’m trying to imagine Keith telling Jeff Miller (who ranked Abbott 11th) why he left Abbott off his list. I think we should be launching a full scale investigation into this (anything that will take the focus off my leaving Hunter off my list). By the way he’s #21 on my list.

Then there’s the case of Bengie Molina. Keith and Sam Miller (also of the OC Register) left Molina off their lists. Molina is one of my all-time favorites (yes, I have many) and I can’t imagine leaving him off this list. He might be the greatest catcher in Angels’ history (just a tick ahead of Bob Boone). The OCR’s Dan Woike ranked him 18th.

Speaking of Boone; Bloom and the OCR’s Dan Woike managed to leave him off their lists.

Highest ranked player on the list by our panelists? Jered Weaver was ranked 13th by Sam Miller. I’m betting Miller has a sabermetrics argument that will knock our socks off to justify this high ranking. Perhaps he should share it with Jenelyn Russo, Bill Plunkett and Jeff Miller all of whom left him off their lists. Go get ‘em Sam!

Kudos to Tim Mead and Randy Youngman who managed to have all of today’s players on their lists.

I’m afraid one of my 50 isn’t going to make the cut and that would be Joe Saunders. I admit he was a sentimental choice on my part (ranked him #49). If he’s not on the list by now, I doubt he’ll be on it at all. I am curious about Rudy May, who I ranked 47th. He has yet to appear and I would be surprised if he cracked the top 30. May is 9th all time in career strike outs by an Angels pitcher, among the top ten in complete games, and 7th in shut outs. It will be a shame if he’s not on the list.

Until tomorrow…

February 14, 2011

The 50 greatest Angels (41-50)

Here we go… the Orange County Register has begun revealing the 50 greatest Angels of all time as voted upon by a group of panelist including myself. The last ten (41-40) was released today and each day this week, the next ten will be published.

This should be somewhat of an interesting process. I’ll admit right now that my list isn’t perfect and that if I had to do it all over again, I’d probably make some changes, additions and deletions. That being said – I really like the top of my list; it’s the bottom half that gets a little tricky.

The Register’s list includes Dick Enberg and Bartolo Colon tied for 49th; followed by Kirk McCaskill (48), Gary DiSarsina (47), Andy Messersmith (46), Dick Schofield (45), Leon Wagner (44), Jarrod Washburn (43), Scott Spiezio (42), and Albie Pearson (41).

Three “Angels” on today’s list didn’t make my list at all; they’re Dick Enberg, Albie Pearson, and Bartolo Colon.

Pearson has to be a sentimental choice among some of those voting. I couldn’t justify putting him on my list because he didn’t impress me from a statistical point of view. Pearson had one all-star season (1963) but was pretty underwhelming the rest of his career in my opinion. I will admit he’s a name that comes up quite a bit when talking about the Angels’ history and might have deserved more consideration from me for that reason alone. At least I wasn’t alone; four panelists left him off their ballot.

As for Colon – he was only really healthy for two of his four years. Granted he did win a Cy Young Award (2005) along the way, but I just couldn’t put him on my list. How the OC Register’s Early Bloom could rank him 13th is beyond me. Ten panelists left him off their ballots.

Then there’s Dick Enberg. Hmm. I could have easily put him on my list. I have very fond memories of Enberg calling Angel games when I was growing up. Let’s just say that if I did it over again, I might include Enberg. I found it interesting the OC Register’s Earl Bloom ranked Enberg #19 and the Angels’ Vice President of Communications - Tim Mead ranked him 20th; especially when you consider that eleven of the fifteen panelists left him completely off their list.

As for the rest of the list…

Leon Wagner didn’t get as much love as I thought he should. I ranked him 37th. While Wagner only had three seasons in Anaheim, they were monster seasons just the same. For his three years from 1961-1963 he averaged 30 homeruns and made two all-star appearances.

Looks like I ranked Kirk McCaskill higher on my list (30) than the rest of the panelists. Let me trumpet McCaskill’s case just a bit… McCaskill ranks 8th all time on the win list for Angels pitchers, 8th in career shut-outs (11), and 12th in strike-outs (714). Not bad huh? I’m surprised Tim Mead left him off his list all-together.

I’m wondering if Jack Howell, who I ranked 46th on my list will make the top 50. We’ll see as this will all continue through Friday.

February 9, 2011

The 50 Greatest Angels....

2011 marks the Angels’ 50th anniversary. It should be quite a year of celebrations, reflections, retrospectives and more. And of course, no anniversary of this nature would be complete without an obligatory list or two.

Yes, lists. We are going to see things like the 50 greatest moments in Angels’ history, the 50 greatest Angel players, etc., etc. I’m sure a great many people will be making up lists of their own. In fact, it’s already begun…

The Orange County Register’s Keith Sharon asked me to be a part of a panel that submitted their list of the 50 greatest Angels of all time. This list is not limited to players alone, but can include coaches, managers, owners, and more. Rally Monkey anyone?

Coming up with the 50 names wasn’t too difficult for me (especially since Sharon provided most of the names), but ranking them in order was an entirely different matter. It was a difficult; albeit, a fun task. The list will be revealed next week; starting on Valentine’s Day – February 14, 2011. Each day ten names will be revealed, starting with 50-41 with the final ten being published on Friday – February 18, 2011.

Check out today’s teaser “50 Greatest Angels to be revealed” from the OC Register’s web site.

In the mean time, let’s talk about that list of the 50 greatest Angels of all time.

First of all, the word “great” means different things to different people. Just like the phrase “most valuable,” greatness is pretty subjective. Wikipedia says “Greatness is a concept of a state of superiority affecting a person, object or place. The concept carries the implication that the particular person or object, when compared to others of a similar type, has clear and perceivable advantage. As a descriptive term it is most often applied to a person or their work, and may be qualified or unqualified.” it shoudl be noted that I can't believe I just quoted Wikipedia...

In any case, that leaves it pretty wide open, doesn’t it?

As I compiled my list, I thought of several things. If they were a player – I thought about where they ranked statistically, what they meant to the organization, and how they represented themselves. I gave careful consideration to the fan’s perception. For example – Wally Joyner fans created “Wally World” in right field and in my mind that was very significant.

Another example would be how Jim Abbott brought national attention to the Angels (for obvious reasons).

Some guys made the list because of the number of years they played in Anaheim. Longevity almost guaranteed a spot on my list, but not necessarily a high spot on my list. I mean if a player was/is just plain terrible - he didn't make the list. In other words, you won't find Jeff Mathis on my list at all. Just saying.

By the way, players had to have played in Anaheim for at least three years to qualify for the list (per Keith Sharon).

I won’t reveal my picks until the Register publishes the compiled list. So bear with me and check back next week. It should be an interesting discussion. Who’s your all time greatest Angel?