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!
He will always be known as Barry’s dad but Bobby Bonds was a great baseball player in his own right and put in one injury-marred good year and then one great season for the Angels.
The Angels traded Mickey Rivers and Ed Figueroa after the 1975 season to get Bobby. He became the marquee offensive player on our pitching-rich, offense-starved 1976 and ’77 clubs. He put up 7.1 WAR in two seasons – 2.1 came in 98 games in 1976 when hand injury cost him the final two months after various aches and pains hadn’t helped. But then he compiled 5.0 WAR in his fantastic 1977 season, hitting 37 homeruns to tie the then-franchise mark set by Leon Wagner in 1962 (still ranked ninth). Only Vlad, Trout, Albert Pujols, Troy Glaus and Reggie Jackson have hit more in one season in an Angel uniform. His 115 RBI that year set a club record then, back when ribbies were gold standard in all of baseball. Despite Mike Trout’s whopping Power/Speed # of 37.2 in 2012, the single season leader remains Bonds with a 38.9 that year when he became the first Angel to have a 30/30 season – Trout joined him there in 2012.
When it comes to Angels lore, Bobby stands at a great crossroads. He was traded to the White Sox for two mediocre pitchers (Dave Forst and Chris Knapp) and one young player who would become a cornerstone of the franchise, Brian Downing. A bittersweet addenda, though, is that the Bonds trade led to signing free agent Lyman Bostock before the 1978 season. Bostock would sadly be murdered by a crazed a gunman just before the ’78 season ended. Lotta “What If’s” in angels lore and extending Barry’s dad’s stay in Anaheim will always be one of them.
TOTALLY SHOCKED he is this low. Just from my perception as a kid. I am sure there is data behind it but I would have guessed without seeing the numbers that he would have been in the top 25. Loved him as a kid.
Up to the time he played for the team, Bobby Bonds was to me the third best hitter the Angels ever had, behind only Jimmy Fregosi and Frank Robinson. Even more than 40 years later, his 1977 season still ranks among the best the team has produced and his previous season could be argued to have led the team as well. Of course those seasons it was Tannana and Ryan and a whole lotta crying. I can’t argue with trading him for Brian Downing, but I wish I’d gotten to see more of Bonds in an Angels uniform.
Great piece. Not only did he play a big role on the field but also in the direction of the franchise.