The Los Angeles/California/Anaheim Angels have played almost 60 seasons of baseball. As the baseball world is suspended due to circumstances outside its control, it is time to look back at the history of this organization. There have been many talented players to put on the uniform, and we at Crashing the Pearly Gates wish to highlight the best who have ever represented the Angels. Without further ado, here we go!
#98 – Shohei Ohtani SP/DH
Despite playing in so few games, Ohtani makes the list for a number of reasons. Being the first player in a long, long time to pitch and hit so well is chief among them. In 2018 he had a 10/10/10 season, with ten starts, ten home runs, and ten stolen bases. Even Babe Ruth never accomplished that in a single season!
Ohtani also won the ROTY award in 2018. His 2018 OPS+ of 151 is the 15th-best in Angels history and by far the best individual non-Mike Trout season in the past decade. In fact, only 8 players total have put up a 150 ops+ or better in Angels history. Ohtani’s .925 OPS in 2018 is also the 23rd-best in Angels history. Ohtani slugged .564 in 2018, the same as Mike Trout did in 2012. Both 11th-best in Angels history.
2019 wasn’t nearly as productive for him, seeing a decrease in offense and no pitching at all, but considering how he had Tommy John surgery and still hit above-average, that’s impressive. A 123 OPS+ is still solid and he hit 18 home runs with 12 stolen bases. Not many Angels reach 40 career home runs and even if he only hit a few in 2020 he would still break the top-50 list for the franchise. The one historic accomplishment he achieved in 2019 that was historic, he hit for the cycle, becoming the first Japanese player to do so in the MLB.
However, a major reason why he is on this list is because of the fame as the biggest international free agent signing in Angels history. He instantly became another reason to watch the Angels (other than Mike Trout). That the aforementioned Trout is a big reason why he came here instantly garnered him tons of fans. In the flip side, Ohtani wanting to be in Anaheim is potentially a reason why Trout stayed. The bromance that the two instantly have is amazing as is his historic accomplishments.
All of a sudden, fans across baseball cared to watch Angels games. In Japan, he was instantly headline news. Angel games were on TV in another country; it added prestige and legitimacy for the team. (And it all came out of nowhere at the expense of the Mariners.) The next time we run this list, who knows where Ohtani will be, but as of now, may Ohtani Sundays live on!