Twelve Hall-of-Famers who have suited up for the Halos

Watching both Albert Pujols and Mike Trout hitting the ball with authority in today’s spring training game, I was reminded that the Angels have two certain future Hall of Famers on their current roster, and that made me wonder if I could name all of the men elected into baseball’s Hall of Fame who have at some time in their career played for the Angels.

Here they are, in chronological order.

Hoyt Wilhelm, 1969

The first relief pitcher to be voted into baseball’s Hall of Fame was “Old Sarge,” a knuckleballer with a long and distinctive career. The year before the Angels acquired him, he had broken Cy Young’s record for the most games in a career for a pitcher, at age 45.

His age 46 year for the Angels was phenomenal. He pitched in 44 games for the Halos in 1969 and had a 0.96 WHIP and a .193 BAA along with a fantastic 2.94 SO/W.

He did so well, that the Atlanta Braves, who were embroiled in a pennant chase in the NL West, traded for him on Sept. 8th, sending a terrific young outfielder named Mickey Rivers to the Angels. Wilhelm pitched in eight games for the Braves to close out the season and had a 0.73 ERA with four saves, helping Atlanta finish in first, although because of his late arrival to the team, he was ineligible for the post-season, and the Braves fell to the Miracle Mets in that year’s NLCS.

Nolan Ryan, 1972-1979

The 25-year-old erratic flamethrower was acquired from the Mets in a trade that sent the Angels’ franchise player, shortstop Jim Fregosi, to New York. Once in Anaheim, pitching coach Tom Morgan worked with Ryan on his mechanics, and Ryan turned into an absolute beast.

He led the league in strikeouts in seven of his eight Angel seasons, crafting four no-hitters along the way. His finest season came in 1977 when he pitched 22 complete games, led the league in fewest HR/9 with 0.4, and had an elite 141 ERA+.

He was terrific in the first playoff game in Angel history, Game One of the 1979 ALCS against the Baltimore Orioles. He struck out the first four Oriole batters of the game and had eight total in the seven innings pitched. He gave up four hits (three singles and a double) and yielded just one earned run.

Unfortunately, this was the only action Ryan would see in this best-of-five series.

Ryan was then a free agent, and he felt like he deserved to be baseball’s first million dollar a year player, but Angel general manager Buzzie Bavasi disagreed and allowed Ryan to jump ship to the Astros. It’s too bad, because Ryan was an elite pitcher during his tenure in Houston, and had the Angels retained him throughout their first golden age, it is likely that 2002 would not have been the first championship season for the Halos.

Frank Robinson, 1973-1974

The great Frank Robinson came to the Angels via a seven-player blockbuster trade with the Dodgers in November of 1972 that also sent Bill Singer and Bobby Valentine to the Angels and Ken McMullen and Andy Messersmith to the Dodgers.

Although Robinson would be 37 and 38-years-old in his two seasons with the Angels, he was easily the best hitter on the team during both of those seasons. He hit a home run in his first plate appearance as an Angel on Opening Day in 1973 and never stopped hitting. In 1973 he had 30 home runs, 97 RBI, scored 85 runs, had a .372 OBP and a 151 OPS+.

The next season, he had a 141 OPS+ and was an All-Star.

He was traded to the Indians in September of 1974 because he was butting heads with the Angels’ manager. Robinson would become MLB’s first African-American manager with Cleveland in 1975.

Robinson returned to the Angels in 1977 as a coach after he had been let go by the Indians to help Don Baylor break out of a terrible first half slump.

Rod Carew, 1979-1985

Near the end of 1978, Minnesota Twins owner Calvin Griffiths was found making horribly racist comments during a speech at a Lion’s Club event, and even though Rod Carew had two more years left on his contract, he made it clear that he refused to work anymore on Griffith’s “plantation” and demanded a trade.

Luckily for the Angels, Carew’s friend and former Twins teammate Lyman Bostock had played for the Angels in 1978 and had told Carew that the Angels were a great team to play for, so the first baseman with seven batting titles to his name agreed to a trade with California in February of 1979.

Although he didn’t win a batting title with the Angels, Carew was great in his first five seasons with the team. He had a .324 BA during that span while averaging 73 runs scored, 23 doubles, and 15 stolen bases. He also was an above average defender at first base, two times finishing first in the league in Range Factor and in Total Zone Runs.

He hit .412 in the 1979 ALCS, and he collected the 3000th hit of his career on August 5th, 1985 off of Frank Viola in a game against the Twins at the Big A.

Reggie Jackson, 1982-1986

The great Reggie Jackson came to the Angels as a free agent signing in January of 1982 after the Yankees had lost to the Dodgers in a 1981 World Series that saw Jackson miss the first three games due to injury.

Reggie was eager to leave the headache that playing in New York gave him, and he responded to his new location by having a spectacular season. He led the AL in home runs with 39, had 101 RBI, a .375 OBP, and a 147 OPS+. He was part of stacked Angel lineup that took the Angels’ second AL West title.

In the ALCS against the Brewers that year, Jackson hit a disappointing .111, but in Game Two, he hit an important home run off of Pete Vuckovich (that season’s Cy Young Award winner) that gave the Angels a 3-0 lead in a game they would win 4-2.

Jackson had one more great season for the Angels, and that came three years later in 1985 when the Angels finished in second place, just one game behind the Royals when Reggie had 27 home runs and 85 RBI, got on base 36% of the time, and had a terrific 130 OPS+.

Don Sutton, 1985-1987

On September 10th, 1985, the Angels were embroiled in a treacherous pennant battle with their heated nemesis, the Kansas City Royals, and they made a trade with the A’s for the 40-year-old starting pitcher, who was having a mediocre year for Oakland.

The Angels only won two of the five starts Sutton made for them (although he had a 1.11 WHIP and a 114 ERA+ in those games), and the Angels missed out on the playoffs.

Sutton had a solid 1986 season, starting 34 games, posting a 110 ERA+, and finishing fourth in the league with his 1.16 WHIP (and collecting the 300th win of his career along the way), all of which helped the Angels win the AL West for the third time.

He proved to be a helpful pitcher in the ALCS that year against the Red Sox, posting a 1.86 ERA in the 9.2 innings he pitched. He was the starter in Game Four and gave up just one run in 6.1 innings in a game the Angels would win 4-3 in eleven innings. He also pitched three solid innings in relief of John Candelaria in Game Seven, but by the time Sutton took the mound in the fourth inning, the Angels were already losing 7-0.

Bert Blyleven, 1989-1992

The “Frying Dutchman” had the last great season of his Hall of Fame career as an Angel in 1989. The right-hander and his legendary curveball had a 17-5 record for the Halos in his initial season with the team, a 140 ERA+ and a 1.12 WHIP. He also led the league with five shutouts and finished fourth in Cy Young Award voting. With Blyleven, Chuck Finley, Kirk McCaskill, Bryan Harvey, and Greg Minton, the Angels had a great pitching staff that season, but even though they won 91 games, the club had to settle for a third place finish.

Unfortunately, Blyleven tore a muscle in his shoulder in 1990, had to have surgery, and struggled when he came back in 1992 for his final MLB season. He ended his career with 287 wins.

Dave Winfield, 1990-1991

The multi-talented outfielder came to the Angels in a trade with the Yankees on May 11, 1990, sending pitcher Mike Witt to New York. Winfield had missed all of the 1989 season due to back surgery, and he was off to a slow start for the 1990 campaign.

After this early season trade, Winfield thrived in his new surroundings and earned The Sporting News‘ Comeback Player of the Year Award thanks to the resurgent 19 home runs, 72 RBI, and .348 OBP he put up with the Halos.

The following year, with a full season dedicated to the Angels, Winfield led the team with 28 home runs, had 86 RBI, and finished with a 120 OPS+.

After the Angels granted Winfield free agency at the end of the 1991 season, he signed with the Blue Jays and proceeded to win a Silver Slugger Award and help the Jays beat the Braves in the 1992 World Series.

Lee Smith, 1995

Coming into the 1995 season, the Angels had a lineup filled with young players lauded for their potential, they had veterans Chuck Finley and Mark Langston locked into the rotation, but they lacked a presence in the bullpen. General Manager Bill Bavasi solved that problem by signing free agent Lee Smith, who had just led the league in saves in 1994 with the Orioles.

Smith did not disappoint. He was an All-Star and finished the year second in saves with 37. The Angels were 41-11 in the 52 games Lee Smith appeared in, helping the team to a tie for first with the Mariners that forced a game 163.

Eddie Murray, 1997

When longtime DH Chili Davis left the club at the end of the 1996 season, the Angels turned to veteran slugger Eddie Murray to fill the void. He came to the club with 501 career home runs and one final season left in him. Unfortunately for everyone involved, it wasn’t a very good season. After 46 games, Murray was released, having hit only three home runs and putting up a measly .273 OBP.

Rickey Henderson, 1997

Which leads us to the time baseball’s all-time stolen base and runs scored leader played with the Angels.

He was acquired in a trade with the San Diego Padres on August 13th to fill Murray’s shoes. In the 32 games Henderson played in Anaheim, he had a horrible .183 BA, but he walked a lot to bump his OBP up to .343, and with all that time on base, he stole 16 bases and scored 21 runs.

Vladimir Guerrero, 2004-2009

After spending eight years in Montreal without the team ever making the playoffs, the superstar decided he wanted a change of scenery and came to the Angels as a free agent in January of 2004.

The superstar slugger was rewarded plentifully for his decision as the Angels made it to the post-season in five of the six seasons he was an Angel. Guerrero spearheaded the team’s success as he was an All-Star his first four seasons with the Angels, was a four-time Silver Slugger, was a top-three finisher in MVP voting three times, and won the award in 2004 when he put the lagging Angel offense on his back at the end of the season and willed the team into the playoffs.

For my money, he was the best pure hitter I’ve ever seen. There were no holes in his swing. Heck, you couldn’t even throw a 98 MPH fastball shoulder high away or bounce the ball in front of home plate without him making you pay for it.

In the 29 playoff games Guerrero participated in during this time, he had a .365 OBP and 20 RBI, including the Game-Winning RBI of Game One of the 2005 ALCS against the White Sox and the Game-Winning RBI of Game Three of the 2009 ALDS that eliminated the Red Sox from the post season.

Bonus Round

Although these next three interesting mentions were never Hall of Famers, there were two Angel players whose fathers were Hall of Famers and one Angel player whose son became a Hall of Famer.

The first one is Earl Averill, Jr. who was a key player in the success of the first two years of the Angel franchise. His father was elected to the Hall by virtue of his defense, his .318 career BA, and the 238 home runs he hit over 13 seasons, most notably for the Cleveland Indians of the 1930s. Averill, Jr. had a seven year MLB career and played catcher and left field for the 1961/62 Angels. He had a fantastic .377 OBP during that time, with 21 home runs belted in ’61 (he was one of five Angel batters to have at least 20 bombs that year).

Then there is Eduardo Perez, son of Cincinnati Red RBI-machine Tony Perez. Eduardo was a first round draft pick of the Angels back in 1991 and was obviously highly regarded, but Eduardo played in just 119 total games and hit only .221 for the Angels from 1993 through 1995. Although he went on to have a 13-year career, he played in at least 100 games only twice.

As for the Angel whose son went on to become a Hall of Famer, that would be second baseman Sandy Alomar who replaced Bobby Knoop as the Angels’ starting second baseman when the two were traded for one another in 1969. Alomar manned the keystone for the next five and a half years for the Angels and averaged 27 stolen bases in his first five seasons with the club. His son, of course was Hall of Fame second baseman Roberto Alomar.

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GrandpaBaseball
Super Member
1 year ago

This was fun, and yes I took the test before opening up the answers. Remembered 8 this early in the A.M. as l missed Blyleven, Lee Smith, Eddie Murray a SoCal Local, and Rickey. I scrolled down slowly for the answers and did a smh on Bert. Also only got one of the 3 relative one with Alomar. Again this was fun and thank you. P.S. I think we may have two additional HOF’ers playing now. I may see Albert be inducted but l may miss Trouty get in as he may play another 12 years and then wait 5 and that summer l would be 85 and l got one foot out of the End Zone now. lol.

Rahul Setty
Admin
Trusted Member
1 year ago

That’s awesome that you remembered that many! Vlad was the only one I actually saw play.

GrandpaBaseball
Super Member
1 year ago
Reply to  Rahul Setty

I probably saw all play but l do not remember Averall Jr. I do remember all the Hall of Famers though. And l recall when Alomar was our best player. No one will ever forget how Vlad played the outfield. Here is a true story about Reggie. Reggie was a free agent and he did not care for George at that time any more and had been told that Autry really wanted him because #26 truly wanted a World Series Champion. So Jackson meets with Gene and tells Gene how much he wants. Autry says he can’t afford that and Reggie says how much can you pay and Autry says X amount, Reggie mulls that figure around for about 20 seconds and asks Autry what was your attendance last season. Well Autry fumbles though some paper work and says it was 1.3 million. Reggie says l’ll take what you offer plus .50 a seat sold above that attendance number and Reggie made some Bank on a handshake deal. Reggie and the team were competitive and the fans came all season long to watch a great player and a greater team. Sadly though the 80’s were unkind to us in post season play.

rspencer
Trusted Member
1 year ago

Sandy Alomar came to the Angels just as my fanhood for the team gelled (before that I followed both the Dodgers and Angels without prejudice), and he was my first Favorite Angel.

And, as with DG, I saw all these guys play. I had forgotten just how good Wilhelm was for the Angels.

A very enjoyable post!

Designerguy
Super Member
1 year ago

I saw all of these guys play for the Angels.

Rahul Setty
Admin
Trusted Member
1 year ago
Reply to  Designerguy

I’ll be off your lawn shortly.

Designerguy
Super Member
1 year ago
Reply to  Rahul Setty

And you shall do so post haste!

Simba
Member
1 year ago
Reply to  Designerguy

Damn, you saw Hoyt Wilhelm? Your picture is representative …..

Designerguy
Super Member
1 year ago
Reply to  Simba

comment image

Blackgoat
Trusted Member
1 year ago

This was fun, thanks!

Simba
Member
1 year ago

Thanks for the look-back. That was fun.