Top 100 Angels: #69 Frank Robinson

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!

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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.

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Jeff Joiner
Editor
Legend
2 years ago

So the Angels traded away a pitcher they could have sorely used for the next 5 years to get an aging bat that didn’t get them anywhere? TrAdition!

RexFregosi
Super Member
2 years ago
Reply to  Jeff Joiner

A big difference back then was there absolutely no offense whatsoever. We seemed to have plenty of pitching. Or at least an adequate amount.

Also there were a few more pieces included like Bill Singer who was a decent pitcher and Bobby Valentine who was looking really solid as a young player till he got hurt. Valentine was like the 70s version of Kendra Morales.

HalosFanForLife
Trusted Member
2 years ago

He was the best player to ever wear an Angels uniform until #27 arrived. Pujols and Ryan close behind.

Designerguy
Super Member
2 years ago

Robinson torpedoed Bobby Winkles because he was hoping to be MLB’s first black manager. Not long after he was traded to Cleveland, he was named player/manager.

RexFregosi
Super Member
2 years ago
Reply to  Designerguy

Angels hired Dick Williams instead of Robby after Robby ran off Winkles which made sense even though some look at it as just too racial a thing in OC in the earlly 70s. Gene wanted to hire Williams sooner but couldn’t due to Charles O’Finley

The clubhouses of the A’s and Angels in the early 70s must have been dysfunctional hell

one memory i have of PS ST in the 70s is he came to one of my LL practices which was cool and i also vividly remember he was accompanied by a statuesque blonde who had the curves of Bert Blyleven pitch

As a ball player, he has my utmost respect and he’s still under rated, but yeah it was accompanied by a competitive edge that made him an asshat at times.

HalosFanForLife
Trusted Member
2 years ago
Reply to  RexFregosi

Speaking of Blyleven, he used to come pitch batting practice at my high school during rehab. He’d throw nothing but curveballs. Knowing what was coming, one time I got one pretty good and felt pretty good about myself. Then reality set in. He started really snapping them off. I knew it was coming and could do nothing. I mean nothing. It literally would drop straight down. FILTHIEST pitch ever.

Designerguy
Super Member
2 years ago

I was at the game when he got into with Scioscia. The only comment Robinson made post-game was Scioscia “disrespected me.”

John Henry Weitzel
Editor
Super Member
2 years ago

Wow. How did I not know about that?

Thanks for the history lesson!