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!
Frank Robinson arrived in a November 1972 trade with the Dodgers that cost the Halos Andy Messersmith and Ken McMullen.
He rewarded the Angels with one of the best offensive seasons in club history. Even though advanced stats were not invented then, measuring his 1973 by OPS+ shows that at the time it was then the second-best offensive season in club history with an OPS+ of 151 just a little behind Don Mincher’s 156 in 1967. It currently ranks seventh best among Angels single seasons by anyone not named Mike Trout. In three other advanced stat categories (Adjusted Batting Runs, Adjusted Batting Wins and Base-Out Wins Added) Robinson’s 1973 still ranks in the top ten absent Trout, whose single season records in these offensive categories takes up slots 1-8.
He turned 38 at the end of August in 1973 as he was amassing 142 hits, 29 doubles, 30 home runs, 82 walks and an .861 OPS. In 2006, Matt Welch calculated it as the best season ever by a Angels Designated Hitter (LINK) and it came in the first season the Designated Hitter was ever used.
Robinson was hurt for part of 1974, got our manager fired, ruined the clubhouse with his grating alpha personality and as a reward was traded with two weeks left in the season to the Cleveland Indians.
In 2005 the Angels played an interleague series against the Robinson-managed Washington Nationals. Brendan Donnelly came into the game in relief and just before he threw his first pitch, Robinson came out of the dugout and insisted his glove be checked for pine tar. Lo and behold, there was a little dab of pine tar on the mitt and Donnelly was tossed for having a foreign substance. Former Angel Jose Guillen had tipped off Robinson. Mike Scioscia argued in vain that the amount was so miniscule that it was almost inevitable to be on every other glove checked. The argument was in vain but the two managers – at the time we are talking two revered baseball leaders – well they got into a heated fracas with each other. Guillen ended up driving in the game-winning run. What a punch in the gut.
The next day Robinson mocked Scioscia in the press, revealing himself to be the anti-leader sourpuss egomonster that got him traded so many times and scorned by his teammates. One of the 25 greatest payers in baseball history by almost any metric, he passed away last February at the age of 83.