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.


  1. The way I see it, the more the fan loves the Angels, the more likely that fan will vote for Tim Salmon as the #1 Angel.

    If the fan loves baseball as opposed to the Angels, Nolan Ryan wins out.

    Kingfish forever!

  2. This was a great series James! And I like your selections. What a fun way to spend time ahead of spring training.

    I think Michael's comments about people who choose Salmon for the greatest Angel vs. those who select Ryan are right on. Me? I agree. Kingfish all the way.


  3. Jenelyn RussoMarch 10, 2011

    A bit late here, but thanks for the shout out. The countdown was great fun. And I'm pleased with how my list did compared to the final one. Salmon will always be #1 Angel to me.