As Angels fans, we have more time on our hands than usual with no baseball for the foreseeable future. Why not take a trip down memory lane and reflect on all of the postseason appearances in Angels franchise history?
Today marks the sixth part in a 10-part series documenting every Angels playoff appearance. I’ll go chronologically, going from the first playoff appearance all the way to their most recent appearance. Next up on the list is the 2005 team that was one agonizing and infamous call away from possibly having a different playoff outcome.
PART 1: The 1979 Season
PART 2: The 1982 Season
PART 3: The 1986 Season
PART 4: The 2002 Season
PART 5: The 2004 Season
The Angels won 95 games in 2005, winning 90+ games in consecutive seasons for just the second time in franchise history (1985-1986). After winning the World Series in 2002 and winning back-to-back division titles in 2004 and 2005, the Angels established themselves as one of the baseball elites. For the second straight season, the Angels rode strong pitching to a playoff appearance. After defeating the Yankees in the ALDS, the Angels were perhaps one call away from having a different fate in the ALCS vs the White Sox.
The 2005 position player crop was not a particularly special group. By fWAR (19.6), the Angels were a roughly average team and finished 22nd in franchise history. Offensively, they finished 7th in the American League in runs scored (761) and 9th in wRC+ (96). Just like in 2004, the Angels’ small-ball baserunning was prevalent as they led baseball with 161 stolen bases. But with those stolen bases came the second-most runners caught stealing (157) and the least amount of bases taken (107). The Angels were very good, however, in the field where they ranked 8th in Total Zone Runs (25).
Once again, Vladimir Guerrero led the way for the Angels offense with his 5.3 WAR and 148 wRC+. Newcomer Orlando Cabrera immediately stepped in as a defensive force (19.6 UZR), finishing with the second-best WAR (3.5) among position players. Adam Kennedy churned out his last quality season with the Angels, posting 3.2 WAR in 129 games. Chone Figgins, now fully entrusted in a super-utility role, posted 2.7 WAR in 158 games while playing 6 different positions. Those were the only four position players to produce at above-average rates.
The 2005 pitching staff not only carried the Angels to the playoffs but was arguably the best group in franchise history. By fWAR (21.4), this was the best pitching staff in Angels’ history and the third-best unit in the majors. By ERA- (86), they ranked third in franchise history while their FIP- (92) was tied for the second-best. Perhaps most impressive is just how good both the rotation and bullpen was. The rotation was a top-5 unit in baseball by fWAR (16.8), ERA- (88), and FIP- (92). The bullpen was just as impressive, finishing tied for second in fWAR (4.6) and top-6 in ERA- (83) and FIP- (91).
The rotation’s superb year was a collective effort from every starter. John Lackey emerged as one of the best starters in baseball, posting 5.3 WAR and an 81 ERA- in 209 innings. After a disappointing debut year in Anaheim, Bartolo Colon posted an 82 ERA- in 222.2 innings and took home the first Cy Young award by an Angel since Dean Chance in 1964. Newcomer Paul Byrd was immediately effective, tossing 204.1 innings with a 88 ERA-. In his last year with the Angels, Jarrod Washburn had a superb 75 ERA- in 177.1 innings of work. Rounding out the rotation was rookie Ervin Santana, who was a perfectly acceptable #5 starter (109 ERA- in 133.2 IP).
Firmly established as an elite unit, the Angels bullpen rolled out a two-headed monster in the late innings. Now the full-time closer, Francisco Rodriguez was once again masterful, posting a 63 ERA- and 73 FIP-. Scot Shields was legitimately one of baseball’s best relievers, running a 64 ERA in 91.2 innings. Brendan Donnelly (87 ERA-), Joel Peralta (91 ERA-), Esteban Yan (108 ERA-), and Kevin Gregg (118 ERA-) supplied depth behind the dominant duo.
ALDS vs New York
For the second time in four seasons, the Angels had a first-round matchup against the Yankees. And for the second time in four seasons, the Angels knocked the Yankees out of the playoffs. As the late Rory Markas claimed at the end of the series, “The $200 million (Yankees) team falls a couple of bucks short”. This was a super competitive series that saw 4 of the 5 games decided by two runs or less. The teams split each of the two-game sets in Anaheim and New York, setting up a do-or-die Game 5 in Anaheim. In front of the home faithful, the Angels once again clinched a playoff series victory against the Yankees. Bengie Molina, in the midst of a career offensive season, homered in each of the first 3 games. Garret Anderson homered twice, including hitting a pivotal home run in Game 5.
ALCS vs Chicago
The infamous A.J. Pierzynski series still haunts Angels fans to this day. After taking a close Game 1 in Chicago, the Angels were one blown call away in Game 2 from perhaps heading back to Anaheim with a 2-0 series lead. After losing in that brutal fashion in Game 2, the series headed to Anaheim where the White Sox made quick work of the Angels. Cumulatively, Chicago outscored the Angels 23-11 in the five-game series. The White Sox superb rotation stifled the Angels bats (.466 OPS), who then proceeded to stifle the Houston Astros in a four-game sweep in the World Series. The disdain for this series, Pierzynski and umpire Doug Eddings still exist to this day.
still wearing my 2004-2005 Back-to-Back AL West Camps shirt
we were the only team to beat the CWS that post-season – they only lost one game
i still recall where i was for that ALCS Game 2- D&B’s in the Irvine mall (we were camping at San Clemente SB and on the way home from a day in Disneyland and also heading to G3 in Anaheim). Crazy. It also reminded me of the 1993 Stanley Cup Final – same situation – LA was oh so close to heading back home with a 2-0 lead in the series but then the refs/umps intervened.
Good memories for the most part – Ryan was robbed of a Cy Young by Palmer in the 70s so i make no apology for Bart’s!
9/10 times in the postseason ended in losses. But 2005 wasn’t anywhere near the top of the list. Sure that gMe sucks but it isn’t like the Angels played well in the rest of the series.
Besides, many people famously forget the White Sox even won in 2005. So… Yeah