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!
After a half-decade of superb production in Pittsburgh, Ray came to Anaheim late in the 1987 season. Ray produced in his one month with the Angels that year (112 OPS+) and then followed it up with an All-Star 1988 campaign. In 153 games, Ray hit .306/.345/.429 and was a 2.5-win player. Ray flashed elite bat-to-ball skills in 1988, finishing with the ninth-lowest strikeout percentage (5.8%) in baseball. While Ray produced at the plate (117 wRC+), his poor defense (minus 13 Total Zone Runs) sapped some of his overall value.
Ray took a step back in 1989 but still produced as a decent regular (1.4 fWAR and 95 wRC+). The following year, however, would be his last in the majors. His wRC+ fell to 90 and he was worth 0.5 fWAR, the lowest WAR total in his career. Across 422 games and parts of four seasons with the Angels, Ray posted a .296/.331/.393 with a 104 OPS+.
Those were great baseball cards. My youth right there.
I’ll verify this memory after I write it. When I was 15, I went to opening day. I believe the Angels were playing the Mariners and Ray hit the first HR for the Angels of the season. I think Blyleven was pitching. Ray was a number of switch hitters who were in the organization during those years, along with Pettis (who was a little earlier), Devon White, Chili Davis, etc. As I was learning about platoons at the time, I was impressed by the Angels switch hitters.
I’m happy to report that I remembered correctly. Ray hit a HR in the top of the 1st. I had forgotten that Ken Griffey Jr (who wasn’t the Ken Griffey Jr we remember yet) also hit a 3-run shot that game.
I can remember our radio announcers emphatically declaring, every single time he did something positive with the bat, that he was a “professional hitter. ” I am sure I never knew what that meant at 14 or 15 years of age, but it sounded good.